Andreas Eriksson, founder and CEO of Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship's most dominant team, is convinced his new Civics can contend for the title in their first year.
The long-time builder and preparer of Ford Fiestas for the Global, World and European Rallycross championships revealed yesterday that he had switched allegiance for the 2016 GRC campaign. The Red Bull Olsbergs MSE team will campaign the recently facelifted Honda Civics in 2016, and Eriksson told Motorsport.com he can make them competitive from the word go.
“There are no restrictions on testing in Red Bull Global Rallycross,” he said, “so we will do as much as we possibly can before we need to race.
“We will have a lot of testing do to make the cars reliable right out of the box, but we think we can be competitive immediately. We will work for that goal; it’s possible.”
The Red Bull team’s drivers will again be Sebastian Eriksson (no relation), who finished runner up last year, and 2014 GRC champion Joni Wiman, who took fifth in the final standings in 2015. The pair scored a win apiece, whereas champion Scott Speed and Tanner Foust scored a total of five wins in the Volkswagen Andretti team's Beetles.
Explaining the switch from the proven Ford to the new Honda, Andreas Eriksson said: “Ford and OMSE had different ways of how we saw the sport going forward, and OMSE wanted to build for the future.
“So it was clear that if we had different approaches, it made sense to find a partner that had the same goals as us. Long term, we want to build the sport and build new stars from the sport.”
Eriksson admitted, too, that the Civic’s natural attributes offered an advantage over the Fiesta.
“We believe that the car benefits from its wider track and if we can keep the weight on the limit, it will be great as it’s a low car as well,” he said. “It will be a different car from all Rallycross cars out there , although we are again doing something others probably will follow.”
Eriksson also confirmed that the OMSE/Honda partnership is exclusively tied to the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship, and that the company’s ties with Ford had not been completely severed.
“OMSE have Ford in World Rallycross and we have customers running Fords with our support,” he stated. “We will continue that help with support and parts.
“We have a network that helps customer run their own cars, as well as updates available and service agreements.”