Bumper entry fires up RallyX Nordic's first visit to Finland

Bumper entry fires up RallyX Nordic's first visit to Finland

Oliver Solberg and Thomas Bryntesson tied at the top as Oliver Eriksson looms
RallyX Nordic's inaugural visit to Finland attracts mammoth 33 Supercar entry
Line-up features multiple Finnish champions plus ex-World RX driver "Csucsu"
Guillaume De Ridder sets sights on Supercar Lites championship win

RallyX Nordic presented by Cooper Tires ventures into exciting new territory for the penultimate round of the 2018 season (25-26 August) with an inaugural visit to Finland and the iconic Kouvola track featuring a mammoth entry list of 33 Supercars.

With only two rounds of the season remaining Oliver Solberg and Thomas Bryntesson are tied atop the RallyX Nordic points’ table, while Oliver Eriksson remains very much in contention by heading to Finland a mere ten points adrift.

Battle resumes this weekend in Kouvola, located 130km northeast of the Finnish capital Helsinki. The track, a former World RX of Finland venue, is a popular new addition to the schedule following RallyX Nordic's expansion into a nation with a rich history in motor sport.

Nevertheless, Kouvola represents a new challenge for more than simply its technical, flowing layout with the leading RallyX Nordic contenders priming to do battle with a wealth of local talent bidding to upset the regulars on home soil.

In all, 23 drivers predominantely competing in the Finnish Rallycross Championship bolster the RallyX Nordic entry list in Kouvola to bring the entire Supercar field to 33.

Leading the local charge is Riku Tahko, a former Euro RX racer who currently leads this year’s Finnish national championship in his MINI Cooper Countryman. He is joined by his closest rivals for the domestic title Ari Perkiomaki (Ford Fiesta) and Mikko Ikonen (Saab 9-3) as the drivers to watch amidst their own title fight this weekend.

Last year’s Finnish Rallycross Champion Atro Maatta will also be present on the starting grid in Kouvola at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta, while 2016 title winner and current Euro RX contender Jere Kalliokoski returns to his native land to target victory in a Skoda Fabia. Elsewhere, the event will also see the anticipated return of Aki Karttunen in a Volvo S40. A former front-runner in Finland, Karttunen is making his first appearance since the end of the 2016 season.

Meanwhile, round five will see the debut of former World RX driver Lukacs “Csucsu” Kornel, who joins the RallyX Nordic ranks in his Volkswagen Polo. Having contested a full season of World RX in 2017, “Csucsu” will dovetail his current Euro RX commitments in a car prepared by RallyX Nordic stalwarts Hedstroms Motorsport.

The expanded entry list will simply serve to ramp up the pressure on a thrilling title battle as Solberg and Bryntesson bid to forge ahead prior to the RallyX Nordic finale in Tierp Arena on 6-7 October. 

With Solberg listed in front by virtue of his two wins to Bryntesson’s single victory, the pair nonetheless face a burgeoning threat from Eriksson after he finished ahead of both last time out in Nysum. Seeking his first win of the season, the Olsbergs MSE driver is now just ten points behind and with more drivers competing to potentially steal points from one another this weekend, Kouvola could prove crucial in this year’s title fight.

Similarly, Ola Froshaug and Peter Hedstrom in fourth and fifth overall will hope this also works in their favour as they look to bolster their points tallies. Notably, Hedstrom is the only RallyX Nordic regular to have previously competed at Kouvola during the 2014 Euro RX round.

In addition to the Supercar class, the support programme once more features the Supercar Lites class, while RX Academy features on the RallyX Nordic schedule for the second time this season. 

QUOTES
Riku Tahko, current leader of the Finnish Rallycross Championship: “I think this will be the most exciting rallycross event we have ever seen in Finland! There is a great line up of top drivers – proper Supercars – and everyone is buzzing. As I’m leading the Finnish Championship there could be a small change in my driving to play with strategies but I won’t be focusing too much on the points. I cant’t imagine a better way to win the title in Finland than by beating the top RallyX Nordic drivers at our home track. It’ll be flat out from the first corner!”
 
RallyX Nordic Series Manager Ian Davies, commented: "As a nation synonymous with motor sport at the highest levels, Finland is a logical addition to the RallyX Nordic presented by Cooper Tires calendar. That we are able to visit such an excellent venue in Kouvola makes it particularly special and we are excited to be bringing our high quality rallycross racing to Finland for the first time. Moreover, fans will get to enjoy a thrilling RallyX Nordic title battle that is finely poised coming into the weekend, and if that wasn’t enough there is a huge Finnish field to cheer too. It’ll be unmissable."
 
Supercar Entry List - RallyX Nordic // Round 5 // Kouvola, Finland
1    Thomas Bryntesson    NOR    Ford Fiesta
2    Jere Kalliokoski    FIN    Skoda Fabia
3    Ari Perkiomaki    FIN    Ford Fiesta
5    Jukka Lautamaki    FIN    Skoda Fabia
8    Peter Hedstrom    SWE    Volkswagen Polo
 10    Lukacs “Csucsu” Kornel    HUN    Volkswagen Polo
11    Oliver Solberg    NOR    Citroen DS3
12    Riku Tahko    FIN    MINI Cooper Countryman
13    Harri Arola    FIN    Subaru Impreza WRX
14    Marko Malinen    FIN    Ford Focus RS WRC 03
15    Jari Tuuri    FIN    Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6
16    Oliver Eriksson    SWE    Ford Fiesta
19    Atro Maatta    FIN    Ford Fiesta
22    Niko Korhonen    FIN    Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8
29    Kari Irri    FIN    Peugeot 208
30    Ole Kristian Temte    NOR    Citroen C4
60    Matti Nisula    FIN    MINI Cooper S
61    Andreas Carlsson    SWE    Renault Clio
67    Eemeli Peltokangas    FIN    Ford Focus WRC
69    Janne Rinta-Kauhajarvi    FIN    Ford Fiesta
74    Ari-Pekka Niemi    FIN    Ford Fiesta
77    Stene Johansen    NOR    Renault Clio
79    Jari Putkinen    FIN    Ford Focus
86    Aki Karttunen    FIN    Volvo S40
88    Daniel Thoren    SWE    Volkswagen Polo
91    Ola Froshaug    NOR    Ford Fiesta
99    Pekka Mustakallio    FIN    Citroen C4
111    Mikko Malinen    FIN    Volkswagen up
116    Kaarle Lindstrom    FIN    Volvo C30
117    Juha Rytkonen    FIN    Ford Fiesta
174    Iivari Niemi    FIN    Skoda Fabia
176    Mikko Ikonen    FIN    Saab 9-3
888    Miikka Kaskinen    FIN    Citroen C4
Supercar Lites
Guillaume De Ridder comes to Finland with his sights set firmly on clinching the RallyX Nordic for Supercar Lites title. Though the Belgian's dominant start to the season came to an abrupt end last time out in Nysum when a miscommunication in the semi-finals led to him missing the joker - forcing an exclusion - the three full score wins prior to that means he remains comfortably clear of his rivals with two rounds remaining.

Currently 25 points ahead of Ben-Philip Gundersen, De Ridder will be crowned champion if he scores five more points than his Norwegian rival in Kouvola this weekend. Elsewhere, Nysum winner Sondre Evjen will look to close the gap to Gundersen from third place, while Simon Olofsson and William Nilsson round out the  top five.
 
Supercar Lites Entry List // Round 5 // Kouvola, Finland
 
2    Ben Philip Gundersen    NOR
6    William Nilsson    SWE
11    Mats Oskarsson    SWE
17    Hampus Radstrom    SWE
21    Marcus Hoglund    SWE
52    Simon Olofsson    SWE
66    Santosh Berggren    SWE
69    Sondre Evjen    NOR
90    Jimmie Walfridson    SWE
91    Jonathan Walfridsson    SWE
96    Guillaume De Ridder    BEL
Schedule - RallyX Nordic // Round 5 // Kouvola, Finland
Saturday     
1800    Free Practice (1) RX Academy & Lites
1850    Free Practice (2) RX Academy & Lites
Sunday     
0900    Free Practice (2)
0930    Warm-up RX Academy & Lites
0950    Free Practice (2) Supercar
1040    Qualifying Race 1 (Q1)
1200    Qualifying Race 2 (Q2)
1420    Qualifying Race 3 (Q3)
1420    Semi-Finals
1615    Finals
Local time Finland (GMT+2)
*Order: RX Academy, Supercar Lites and Supercars

TV Coverage
Sweden - C More & Sportskanalen LIVE 
Norway - TV2 Sportskanalen & TV2 Sumo LIVE
Broadcasting gets underway at 1330 (local time Sweden/Norway)