Jun 27, 2020
‘Magic Marcus’ to pilot Hyundai i20 Supercar at ‘Magic Weekend’
Former European Champion Eklund returns to action aged 73
Eriksson looking forward to racing his ‘fellow rallycross dinosaurs’
Walfridson to return to the scene of his greatest triumph
Livestream subscriptions open here, offering Early Bird discounts
Marcus Grönholm and Per Eklund headline the first wave of ‘Legends’ announced for next month’s ‘All-Star’ Magic Weekend at Höljes in Sweden (2-5 July), as fellow rallycross heroes Andreas Eriksson and Stig-Olov Walfridson similarly prepare to return to the track for what promises to be a very special event indeed.
After making his name in rallying – claiming two Drivers’ World Championship titles, 30 WRC victories and a staggering 542 stage wins at the highest level – Grönholm switched disciplines in 2008 as he joined the FIA European Rallycross Championship, triumphing on his maiden appearance at Höljes and going on to win five times from eight starts in the Global Rallycross Championship in 2011 and 2012 in an Olsbergs MSE-run Ford Fiesta.
The Finn competed on Rally Sweden in 2019 but has not raced a rallycross Supercar in eight years. At Höljes next month, at the age of 52 and behind the wheel of son Niclas’ GRX Taneco Hyundai i20, that will all change.
Eklund is a name synonymous with rallying and rallycross. The former Saab factory driver won the Swedish round of the WRC in 1976 and finished fifth in the FIA World Rally Championship in 1982.
He made his debut in rallycross in 1971 and won both Sweden’s first ever event in the discipline as well as Höljes’ inaugural race. In 1999, he was crowned FIA European Rallycross Champion in Division 1 (now Supercar), and he placed inside the top three in the overall standings on five further occasions. ‘Pekka’, as he is affectionately known, is also two times a winner of the iconic Pikes Peak hillclimb challenge – once overall and once in-class.
The Swede last raced competitively in 2015, entering the World RX event at Höljes – finishing an eminently respectable 23rd out of 35 contenders at almost 70 years of age – and reaching the RallyX Nordic final at Arvika in a Volkswagen Beetle. Now, his beloved Beetle is set to ride again in his hands at the ‘All-Star’ Magic Weekend.
Like his fellow ‘Legends’, Eriksson also started out in rallying before turning his attentions to rallycross in 2005 – and transferring his trademark all-out style from the forests to the circuit. The Swede placed third overall in the European Championship in 2007, but since 2011 has focussed his efforts on running Olsbergs MSE, one of the most successful operations in the discipline’s history and 2014 Teams’ World Champion.
A regular race-winner in both World and European competition, the outfit has additionally secured multiple championship titles in the United States and earned an astonishing 19 X Games medals, including podium sweeps at the world’s leading action sports contest in 2011 and 2013. Eriksson himself showed a solid turn-of-speed as he returned to the cockpit during OMSE’s #RXQuarantine event last month, and the 47-year-old will pilot a Ford Fiesta Supercar at the ‘All-Star’ Magic Weekend.
Last but not least in our ‘Fab Four’, Walfridson is a member of the illustrious Walfridson motorsport dynasty, whose defining career moment came at Höljes in 2009 when he won the European Championship round at the Swedish track in his Helmia Motorsport Renault Clio.
The two-time Swedish Rallycross Champion’s last race was also at Höljes in 2015, when he placed inside the top half of the Intermediate Classification in the 35-strong World Championship Supercar field. Now 57, ‘Stecka’ is ready to put his foot to the floor one more time…
Marcus Grönholm said: “This is not a comeback – I promised my family that I would stop permanent racing already some time ago – but as a one-off event, with fast cars and many great drivers, Höljes will be great fun and I’m looking forward to enjoying every bit of it in our GRX Hyundai i20 Supercar. Also, I’ll get to compare my lap times with Niclas, and I am sure he will give me a hard time chasing him…”
Per Eklund said: “I’m excited. I have so many fond memories of Höljes. I helped to build the circuit and then won the first event held there, which was a winter race. For somewhere that’s literally in the middle of nowhere, there is so much passion for this little track amongst fans and I think what the organisers are doing with the ‘All-Star’ Magic Weekend is so good for Finnskoga MK and for the sport of rallycross in general.
“We’ve been flat-out in the workshop recently, and now we need to go flat-out preparing for the event because I see some of my ‘Legends’ rivals have been getting a bit of practice in, so I have some catching-up to do! It’ll be fun to see all the boys again. I raced against the Walfridson family and had a lot of enjoyable battles with ‘Stecka’, too. I might be the oldest driver in the field, but hopefully I can still give them a good fight…”
Andreas Eriksson said: “It’ll be a lot of fun to take on my fellow rallycross ‘dinosaurs’ in the ‘Legends’ class, and it will be interesting to see who’s still ‘got it’ after all these years! When I drove the final in our #RXQuarantine event at Höljes last month, it really gave me a taste for competition again, although I have had to assure my wife that this will be strictly a one-off!
“My speed was pretty good in the Lites car in that race, so now I’m really looking forward to stepping into a Supercar again because with 600bhp, the Fiesta is a whole different beast. I can’t wait to go wheel-to-wheel with these guys and I can promise all the action-starved fans watching at home via the livestream that they are going to enjoy one hell of a show!”
Stig-Olov Walfridson said: “I stopped racing full-time in 2013, but then came back for a one-off event at Höljes in 2015, which is the last time I drove competitively. I tested there recently in the Clio, which went quite well – though I quickly realised that at 57, I don’t have so much power in my arms anymore!
“The ‘All-Star’ Magic Weekend will be a lot of fun, although when the helmet goes on, there’s always an element of competition – particularly amongst us old guys! Höljes is obviously special to me as my home track, but it’s special to so many other people in the rallycross community too. I’m excited to go racing there again.”
The joint brainchild of RallyX Nordic promoter RX Promotion and Höljes’ organising club Finnskoga MK, and supported by the Swedish arm of international broadcasting heavyweight NEP, the eagerly-anticipated ‘All-Star’ Magic Weekend will be the first major motorsport event of the year in Europe and will follow a purely digital, pay-per-view livestreaming model to adhere to current COVID-19 restrictions.
The commitment is to bring more rallycross action, highlights and ‘insider’ content than ever before to fans all around the world, with a global English-language feed, a presenting team composed of Andrew Coley, Hal Ridge, Neil Cole and Molly Pettit and no geo-blocking.
Prominent Swedish streaming platform StayLive will host the event, with early bird subscription deals available until midnight on Thursday, 25 June for just 199 SEK (c. €19,99). After this date, the package price increases slightly to 249 SEK (c. €24,99). Subscribers will also gain complimentary access to all 2019 RallyX Nordic races as a bonus.
Prominent Swedish streaming platform StayLive will host the event, with early bird subscription deals available here until midnight on Thursday, 25 June for just 199 SEK (c. €19,99). After this date, the package price increases slightly to 249 SEK (c. €24,99). Subscribers will also gain complimentary access to all 2019 RallyX Nordic races as a bonus.
Part of the proceeds of this crowdfunding initiative will go towards supporting Höljes to ensure many more Magic Weekends are possible in the future. Should they wish, fans can make additional donations here.
The final entry lists for all five classes at the ‘All-Star’ Magic Weekend – Legends, Supercar, Supercar Lites, CrossCar/Crosskart and CrossCar Junior – will be published after the closing date of 18 June.
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