Scandinavian rallycross powerhouse reveals 2017 GRC programme
Trio of young talent to pilot team’s Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic Coupés
Raymond and Keatts form potent pairing in squad’s GRC Lites line-up
Olsbergs MSE is betting on upcoming talent as it prepares to tackle the 2017 Global Rallycross campaign in conjunction with Honda, with an expanded three-car team comprising the youngest driver line-up in the series.
Swedish star Sebastian Eriksson remains on-board at OMSE for his third season in the Supercar class and second behind the wheel of the Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic Coupé. He will be joined in the fold by compatriot and namesake Oliver Eriksson – the youngest rookie on the grid at just 18 – and another former GRC Lites Champion in the shape of Californian teenager Mitchell DeJong. Between them, the trio boasts an average age of just 20.
“I’m very excited to return to OMSE,” enthused Sebastian Eriksson. “This team is my second family and we take pride in competing at our very best. Last year, we had a new challenge in developing the Honda Civic Coupé for the track, but we showed a lot of pace and consistent results. I feel like we can take that next step this year and give Honda some great results.”
“It’s truly an honour to compete at the highest level in rallycross,” added Oliver Eriksson. “It’ll be nice to get back to competing in the car after finishing second in the Lites championship last year. I want to win, I want to be the best once we hit the track, but I also understand that learning the car and competing in Supercars will present a new challenge for me. I’m grateful to have Sebastian and Mitchell as team-mates and I think we’re all ready for the season to begin.”
“I can’t believe it’s finally here!” echoed DeJong. “I’m Honda’s first American Global Rallycross driver and I get to compete with the best team in rallycross. To work with OMSE, Red Bull and Honda is amazing, but winning races and a championship is the ultimate goal. The 2017 season is about to become great for all of us.”
All three drivers have prior history with OMSE, with DeJong having made his GRC Supercar debut with the Scandinavian outfit in the 2016 finale in Los Angeles. Honda Red Bull OMSE tallied a total of five podium finishes in its inaugural campaign in GRC last year, and OMSE CEO and Team Principal Andreas Eriksson is confident that the squad will be capable of building on that success over the coming months.
“It was an epic 2016 for us representing Honda Racing,” he acknowledged. “We hope to not only climb onto the podium a few more times this season, but to learn more about the Honda Red Bull Civic Coupé’s true capability. It’s an aggressive machine and we have aggressive drivers who are eager to bring home great results – and it is fantastic to see Honda and Red Bull alike investing in young talent and the future of our sport.
“I want to thank our team partners Honda, Red Bull, Bluebeam, Motegi Wheels, K&N Filters and Bell Helmets. They truly understand that rallycross is a team sport and without them we wouldn’t be in this position. Every element of our success is their success too.”
“Coming off Honda’s maiden campaign in Global Rallycross in 2016, we are ramping up for the 2017 season with a great blend of skill and experience, in addition to talented newcomers,” said Susie Rossick, Assistant Vice-President of Honda Automobile Marketing. “The Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic team is excited to be back on the track and is committed to increasing its time on the podium.”
Continuing the theme of supporting young talent, OMSE will field a two-car line-up in GRC Lites this year, with recently-announced RX2 International Series recruit and reigning RX Lites Champion Cyril Raymond set to complete a full season alongside series sophomore Cole Keatts, who is keen to make further progress following a promising rookie campaign in 2016.
“We’re delighted to extend our relationship with Cyril to include GRC Lites as well as RX2,” continued Eriksson. “It offers him the perfect shop window to demonstrate his skill on both sides of the Atlantic, and we’re sure it is an opportunity he will grasp with both hands.
“We have similarly high hopes for Cole in his second season with OMSE. He learned a lot last year, and with Oliver and Mitchell both stepping up to Supercars, he is ready to grab his share of the GRC Lites limelight.”
The 2017 GRC campaign will rev into life at Memphis International Raceway in Tennessee on 28/29 April.