Olsbergs MSE Returns to Repeat Championship

Rallycross practice

As a welcome addition to their test sessions at zMAX Dragway's Pro pit area, Olsbergs MSE played host to a few media types to give a taste of the coming Global Rallycross season. After signing the paperwork and inspecting the cars, we walked over to the elevated platform behind the bleachers to don our fire suits and helmets for the ride.

And what a ride! Calm idle over to the starting line, then engage the launch control and the anti-spooldown systems. Launch control is apparently purely mechanical and complies with the GRC regulations. The anti-spooldown is the system that keeps the turbocharger spinning at maximum boost and is what causes the banging and popping as the cars wait for the start of a race.

Throttle down and launch! Almost immediately to second gear, then third, then fourth and maybe fifth, all in about 100 yards. Approaching a sharp left-hand turn, I kept waiting for my driver, rookie Sebastian Ericksson, to brake. "Brake, brake, brake!" screams the survival instinct in even the most jaded rider. Then about the time a 'normal' driver would be letting off the brake pedal and initiating the turn-in, Sebastian jumps on the brake pedal and pops the sequential shifter a few times to downshift before sliding the car through the turn under almost full throttle. "OK," you think, "this kid is good – so is the car!" The rest of the two laps of the practice course flew by in a haze of tire smoke, incredible acceleration and braking, and a growing smile on this rider's face.

Don't ask for a detailed description of how a talented rallycross driver does his job – the rides are barely long enough to get a vague sensation of what's going on around a passenger. There is very little of the violence expected, though there were no jumps or moguls on the all-tarmac course used. In spite of this, we remember that similar GRC rides in the past have also been less jarring than expected, in spite of being held on the full competition course.

There were two disappointments in the event: that new driver Austin Cindric wasn't in attendance, though he participated in the testing the day before, turning a ten-lap session with all ten laps within a tenth of a second; and fellow photographer/writer Larrie Ervin couldn't contort himself to fit within the confines of a car that was not meant to accommodate a passenger.

Watch for the local GRC event and the broadcasts on NBC – especially if you can attend an event in person – we think you'll be surprised at the action and level of competition.

Olsbergs MSE Ford returns to Red Bull Global Rallycross to defend title - 2015 championship season opens this weekend in Fort Lauderdale

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 27, 2015) - Championship winning rallycross team Olsbergs MSE is set to begin its 2015 title defense this weekend at the Red Bull Global Rallycross season opener in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

This year, 2014 champion Joni Wiman returns to the series with OMSE for his second championship campaign. He is joined by rookie Sebastian Eriksson. They will both drive 2015 Red Bull/Bluebeam Ford Fiesta ST rallycross machines.

"I'm looking forward to this season with two drivers who are young and ambitious and represent the future of the sport of rallycross," OMSE team boss Andreas Eriksson said on Wednesday. "It's always harder to win a championship again, when people expect it. It's going to be a fantastic challenge."

OMSE, which is headquartered in Sweden, has won every Global Rallycross championship title since the U.S.-based series started in 2011. The team has been preparing this week with a final round of vehicle testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway, near the team's new U.S. home base in North Carolina.

An off-season development program has brought multiple updates and improvements to the Red Bull/Bluebeam Ford Fiesta ST and this week marks the first time that the team drivers have had an opportunity to review the 2015 package.

"I'm really happy with the car; it's been worth waiting for," said Wiman on Wednesday. "We've been working hard these past few months and the goal is definitely to put our Ford Fiesta ST on the top step of the podium in 2015."

Wiman, a 21-year-old Finnish talent, made his debut in the GRC Lites development series in 2013. He swept the season to take the title and the team promoted him into the top Supercars class last year. He won the 2014 championship title with a record of five podiums in 10 races.

Teammate Eriksson, from Sweden, also debuted in Lites in 2013 and finished the season runner-up to Wiman. After winning the Swedish national rallycross championship last year, the 22-year-old says he's excited to be back in the United States competing alongside his former Lites rival.

"To compete in a big championship like this with a great team is a dream I have had since I was a kid," said Eriksson. "The car is great and I think we can fight for the title this year."

To further its goal of developing future stars, OMSE is also fielding Lites drivers in Red Bull Global Rallycross. Young American Austin Cindric and Swede Oliver Eriksson are committed to the program this year.

Full coverage of the 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross season opener is broadcast live on NBC Sunday, May 31, at 3 p.m.

The Olsbergs MSE team finished atop the podium in both the FIA World Rallycross Championship and the Red Bull Global Rallycross championships last season, and also won the Scandinavian series. And with four of 13 World RX races complete, the team is again leading the World RX teams points.

OMSE's multi-series campaigns in rallycross are guided by the new team slogan "Extreme Forces," representing their united worldwide effort. Fans can follow the team across social media platforms using the  #OMSE #XForces hashtags.

The team's Ford Fiesta ST rallycross cars are class of the field at any race they enter. The powerful, 600-horsepower all-wheel drive machines are top performers that have scored countless wins and podiums at races around the world.

The OMSE organization is led by Eriksson, himself a championship rally driver and veteran rallycross driver. He is supported by Chief Financial Officer Jan-Erik Steen and three-time European Rallycross Champion Jussi Pinomäki.

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.

ABOUT OLSBERGS MSE:  Olsbergs MSE designs, builds and operates winning competition cars for motorsport. It is recognized as the global authority in the growing sport of rallycross.

OMSE is a Ford Racing technical partner, developing the Ford Fiesta platform for international competition. Together, Ford and OMSE have earned an astonishing 20 X Games medals, including podium sweeps at the world's leading action sports contest (Los Angeles, 2011; Brazil 2013). The team has also won every rallycross championship in the United States since the sport debuted in that country in 2010, and won the 2014 FIA World Rallycross Teams Championship.

Founded in 2009, the organization represents a partnership between historic Swedish industrial company Olsbergs and rallycross specialists Motor Sport Evolution. In 2013, the company expanded its operations into the United States and now has dual headquarters with operations in both Sweden and the United States.

In 2015, Olsbergs MSE campaigns winning cars in World RX, the Global Rallycross Championship, and the Rallycross Supercar Scandinavia championship.

ABOUT RED BULL GLOBAL RALLYCROSS: Designed to produce the fastest and most exciting racing in motorsports, Red Bull Global Rallycross pits small production-based cars against each other in door-to-door racing featuring dirt, asphalt, and table-top jumps. With enhanced engineering and safety features, the cars produce 600 horsepower and can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in less than two seconds, and can also withstand 70-foot jumps and other vehicle contact. Full coverage of the 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross championship airs on NBC.

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2015, Issue 5, Posted 10:49 PM, 05.28.2015