Tohill Scores Perfect Podium at Europe’s Biggest Rallycross in Sweden

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Round 5, Sweden, Höljesbanan, Höljes, 2nd July – July 4th 2010

With 26,850 spectators, the organizing club Finnskoga MK, set another Swedish record regarding the number of spectators for its European Rallycross round at Höljesbanan in North Finnskoga, Sweden.  The Swedish round of the 2010 FIA European Rallycross Championship completed the first half of the season.  A total of 84 drivers were allowed to take part in the event after they passed administrative checking and technical scrutineering.  The circuit in Holjes is the Holy Grail for Rallycross fans; it has high speed banking Velodrome, some big jumps, high speed down hill sections etc.  The circuit does not even have a main straight so the driver has no opportunity for a moments rest! 

Division 2 at Höljes was a Scandinavian invasion in the Championship with nine drivers alone from Norway. The event started strongly for Irishman Derek Tohill with a 4th fastest qualification time in Heat 1.  The Rallycross Rebels team were content with 4th place on Saturday night but would have preferred to have featured in the top 3 leading positions.  The team consulted Swedish engineer Ingvar Gunnarsson that night about changing the set up of the car.  He persuaded the team to leave the Duratec powered Fiesta unchanged.  He guaranteed the team that Sunday would be a brighter day as we got to grips with this “Special” circuit

The opening heat on Sunday morning immediately proved to be brighter in terms of results.  But, not in the manner the team expected.  Saturday night and Sunday morning saw some heavy rain showers.  This meant the first heat on Sunday morning was very wet.  This would be the Irishman’s first experience of racing a RWD car in the rain!  Tohill did not disappoint and posted 2nd fastest time overall.  This was an important result as it would ensure Tohill directly qualified to the main A Final.

The 3rd and final qualification heat on Sunday afternoon saw Tohill go head to head with local ace Ole Håbjørg (Norway) driving a BMW.  Tohill got a great start and led Håbjørg for the entire race.  On the final lap the Irishman took his mandatory pass of the Joker lap.  As the Irishman exited the Joker lap he arrived side by side with Håbjørg.  The drivers clashed and both went off the circuit and lost time.  Tohill lost more time off circuit than Håbjørg and ended up finishing the heat in 2nd place and 6th fastest overall.

The qualifying heats left the Irishman on the second row of the grid in position 4.  The Irishman got a little bit too much wheel spin off the line but still managed to move up to second place again behind Håbjørg.  Young Norwegian driver Lars Øivind Enerberg took his mandatory pass through the joker section on lap 1.  Tohill ran in second place until the last lap when Enerberg just passed both himself and Håbjørg on the exit of the Joker lap to take the win.  This left Enerberg with victory with Håbjørg and Tohill completing the podium.  The top 3 positions were covered by only 1.5 seconds, the rest of the field struggling to match the pace of the top 3 drivers.

Tohill commented “This is a good result for our championship; it was very difficult for me as a driver this weekend.  The car ran well but it was a very difficult competing in the back yard of so many drivers.  It’s a circuit which rewards experience but we got there come Sunday afternoon and the gap was so small in the end.  We are happy with a podium place in this very special place.  It is every Rallycross drivers dream to score a podium position in Holjes, Sweden.  It felt very nice to see the Irish flag being raised at this special venue. The fans are so passionate, the event is extremely well organised and all of the drivers want to compete here.  Our team stayed focused all weekend and we got the job dome in the end, it was a great effort from everybody.  Finland this weekend should present a nice opportunity for us as it’s a circuit new to the calendar and new to all drivers. This will leave things at a level playing field.  The car has been re-prepared in Sweden by the guys in Gunnarsson so we are well prepared.  Let’s wait and see…  

A Final Results
1. Lars Øivind Enerberg (N)
2. Ole Håbjørg (N)
3. Derek Tohill (IRL)
4. Per Magne Røyrås (N)
5. Olav Fredriksen (N)
6. Ole Kristian Nøttveit (N)

All rounds of the European Rallycross Championship are being covered by Motors TV and will air in the week after each race.  Click on the link below for TV schedule details:
http://www.motorstv.com/car/rally/fia-european-rallycross-championship