Mads Østberg starts BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia (6 – 8 July) knowing that time is running out in his bid for FIA European Rally Championship title glory.
Counting the Karlstad, Sweden-based event as his ‘home’ round of the ERC, Norwegian Østberg was sensational when selected stages being used this week once formed part of the WRC-counting Rally Sweden route.
He hopes to transfer that form – and his podium pace on the previous ERC event in Latvia – into the inaugural BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia, which uses fast-paced gravel stages and marks the start of part two of the eight-round 2023 ERC season.
“I expect the stages will be very good,” said the 35-year-old Østberg, who drives a Citroën C3 Rally2 for the MRF Tyres Dealer Team. “I don’t have experience of these roads in the summer, I am only used to snowbanks and ice, but it’s a place I have many great memories.”
Østberg, who is co-driven by Swede Patrik Barth, is third in the provisional ERC standings after four rounds, 44 points behind leader Hayden Paddon, who drives a Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally2 for BRC Racing Team.
“We still have work to do but there were positives [in Latvia] and now we need to find some more [speed] because we have to if we want to fight for the top in Sweden,” Østberg added.
While Østberg will be aiming for his first victory of 2023 in Sweden, Latvian Marti?š Sesks (Team MRF Tyres Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) is in contention for a hat-trick of triumphs following standout wins in Poland and on home soil on last month’s Tet Rally Liepaja. Paddon, meanwhile, can extend his title advantage with a second first-place finish of the season.
Swedish star Solberg raises the stakes in ERC
Oliver Solberg, the 2020 Rally2-based FIA Junior ERC champion, won WRC2 on Rally Sweden in February. He’s one of 25 drivers competing in the top-level ERC1 category on BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia and a firm favourite aboard his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
The event will be a family affair for Solberg with his father Petter, mother Pernilla and uncle Henning taking part in the Rally Legends demonstration event.
“The Swedish roads in summer are fantastic, the entry list is proper, plus the whole family is getting involved in the Rally Legends section,” the 21-year-old said.
New ERC event means Colin’s Crest returns
The return of international rallying to Sweden’s Värmland region means the iconic Colin’s Crest jump is back, a fact not lost on FIA Junior ERC star Max McRae.
Scotland-born McRae is the 19-year-old nephew of the late FIA World Rally Championship legend Colin McRae, after whom the giant leap is named. “Using Colin’s Crest will be really cool, we’ll put our head high for that one,” said McRae, whose father Alister will be in action in the Rally Legends event.
Colin’s Crest forms part of the 9.01-kilometre Colins stage, a reworked and renamed version of the famous Vargåsen test. It traditionally attracted thousands of fans when it was used in the WRC. Eyvind Brynildsen’s 45-metre jump in a Ford Fiesta R5 achieved in 2016 remains the Colin’s Crest record.
BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia features 16 stages over a competitive distance of 182.60 kilometres. It’s the first time since the South Swedish Rally in 2003 that Sweden has hosted a round of the ERC.