Seven-straight years of action sport medals for Olsbergs MSE
Austin, Texas (June 6, 2015) - Olsbergs MSE rookie Sebastian Eriksson put in an amazing performance to score X Games bronze in his Red Bull/Bluebeam Ford Fiesta ST this weekend, even after driving most of Saturday's rallycross competition with a flat tire.
Eriksson got a great start in the Final and led the race for the first four laps until his left-rear tire went flat. For six more laps, he put in a smart drive to keep the pack at bay and remain in medal contention.
"I was just thinking I just had to keep it tight and not let everyone past," said Eriksson at the finish. "It was close. I almost spun in that last right-hander."
I was knocked off line and was just guessing where the jump was,
It was a strong weekend for the 22-year-old Swede, who joins OMSE as a Supercars driver in the United States for the first time this season. He was never far from the top of the leader board in practice, qualified fifth, and won his heat race to advance directly to the Final.
And even though he said he was thrilled to come away from the dusty, high-stakes weekend with a medal, the competitive rookie admitted he couldn't help but wish it were a different color. "It feels more like the gold medal I lost instead of the bronze medal that I won," said Eriksson.
It was the 23rd X Games medal for Olsbergs MSE. There has not been an X Games rally podium without an OMSE car on it since the team started competing at the action sport contest in 2009.
Eriksson's teammate Joni Wiman was not as fortunate this weekend in Austin. The defending Red Bull Global Rallycross champion had a spectacular crash off the jump in blinding dust.
After car-to-car contact saw him pushed wide in the tricky first corner of his heat, he made a strategic dive for the longer Joker lane in his first lap. But he set such a fast pace that he quickly caught the field and found himself bumping door-to-door through the pack of cars while struggling to see through a thick haze of dust.
"I was knocked off line and was just guessing where the jump was," said Wiman. "I went for it but when the dust settled down and I could see it wasn't right, I was already in the air and there wasn't anything I could do."
His car missed the landing ramp entirely and came down hard on its front-right corner. It was a scary moment for Wiman but he was uninjured and, to the cheers of the action sport crowd at Circuit of the Americas, he matted the throttle in an attempt to rejoin the race. He made it about half a lap, but the damage to his car was severe and he had to stop.
"It was quite a hard landing but it didn't feel that bad," said Wiman. "It was when I tried to continue that I realized my front wheel wasn't in the right place and that was it."
The rallycross course at Circuit of the Americas was wide, with passing opportunities and a longer joker lap -- unusual in U.S. competition, where it is usually a shortcut. It set the stage for exciting racing, but rough driving throughout the field saw many cars take damage due to car-to-car contact.
The X Games competition is a standalone event that does not score championship points. Eriksson shared the podium with Scott Speed, who earned gold, and Steve Arpin, who earned the silver medal.
The team is expected to have both Red Bull/Bluebeam Ford Fiesta ST cars ready to race again in two weeks for the second and third rounds of the 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship in Daytona, June 20 and 21.
Rallycross is a blend of circuit racing, off-road racing and rally competition. It promises intense crowd-pleasing action in a fan-friendly track environment. As many as 10 drivers line up to start at once, piloting high-horsepower compact cars through race traffic over a challenging short course that features jumps, unbanked turns, hills and transitions between pavement and gravel. It is sometimes described as an action motorsport and is emerging as the top youth-market motorsport in the world.