Stage 1: Big Jump, No Brakes and a Car on Stage…
When you’re a rallycross driver with the last name Eriksson, big things are often expected of you. Nobody knows that better than Oliver Eriksson, son of Olsbergs MSE principal Andreas and younger brother of 2014 GRC Lites runner-up Kevin. In only a handful of GRC Lites appearances last year, the youngest member of rallycross’ first family delivered, taking an impressive heat win and podium finish in Charlotte to complete an all-OMSE podium.
It was enough to convince the family that he was ready for a full season, and so he’ll compete for the Lites title this year alongside new teammate Austin Cindric. In an exclusive interview, Eriksson discusses his support system within OMSE, the tracks he’s looking forward to racing the most, and the keys to the championship:
You were very impressive in three GRC Lites starts last year, taking a heat win and podium in Charlotte and laying down fast laps everywhere. How excited are you to try and show that speed off over a full season?
I’m super excited! I’m so happy and thankful that I have this opportunity to go to the Red Bull GRC Lites series and race against the best drivers in America. I have prepared myself during the winter break and I am ready for this season.
Your older brother Kevin finished second in Lites points last year and took two race wins. Has he given you any advice about what it takes to stay up front consistently from start to finish?
My brother helps me a lot and gives advice. But I also work with Sebastian Eriksson who drove GRC Lites back in 2013 and finished second. He works on the Lites cars at the shop as well as being a great driver and with both of them supporting me, I feel confident.
Have you been behind the wheel at all this offseason testing the Lites car? How important is having plenty of seat time to running up front consistently?
I have done three races in my Lites car in Europe this year and I’ve learned a lot. To be fast, it’s important to get time behind wheel and know the car well. To turn a fast time every lap, you need to have the seat time and the experience to know what’s happening with the car: how it’s going to respond and what makes it fast.
Austin Cindric joins the OMSE squad this year and will be working as your teammate. How much head-to-head racing did you get to do with him last year, and what are you looking forward to about working with him?
I’m so excited to work with Austin. He is a really fast driver. We are the same age and we’ve had the chance to spend some time together in the offseason. We both have very clear goals that we can help each other accomplish.
Out of the tracks where you didn’t compete last year, where are you looking forward to racing the most? Are there any new cities you’re looking forward to exploring?
Red Bull GRC tracks are always located at the most awesome places. My favorites this year are Florida and Barbados, and I can’t wait to see how the military base track is configured. That should be really amazing.
We’re sure that the goal is to return the Lites championship to OMSE this year—what’s more crucial to that pursuit, a lot of race wins or staying consistent with no DNFs?
To win a championship in this sport, you can never have a problem. The racing is so tight and it can be one point that decides the championship. It’s important to push hard and to always stay on top.
Photo credit: Alison Padron (1-2); Larry Chen (3-4)