LOUISVILLE, Ky., May 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Sebastian Eriksson and his No. 93 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic commanded the attention of the entire Red Bull Global Rallycross field on Sunday afternoon. With aggression and poise, he scored Honda's first-ever Global Rallycross victory in one of the closest finishes in series history.
Eriksson led his teammates, Mitchell deJong and Oliver Eriksson (no relation) with a fourth-place qualifying result. The 24-year-old Swedish veteran and his Olsbergs MSE (OMSE) crew then handled the adversity of poor early-round heat results to record a second-place finish in the second semifinal, a strong showing which put him on the inside of the second row.
Before the 10-car final began, a rain shower soaked the .699-mile course, making conditions optimal for Eriksson and the Honda-powered team. The third-year Supercar driver had excelled in similar conditions in his last podium finish in Seattle last season.
At the start, Eriksson entered the first turn in third place. When the frontrunners made contact in the first dirt corner, Eriksson shot to the lead over the 70-foot dirt jump. He went door-to-door with Tanner Foust in the Volkswagen into the first corner, and took the lead heading back into the difficult dirt section and the Joker Lap on Lap Two. The Swede lost the lead momentarily, but maintained his consistency and aggression.
As series veterans Steve Arpin and Foust were fighting for the top spot on the slick circuit, Eriksson caught the leaders and moved into first place. He would maintain his slim lead over second-place Arpin for the final five laps. On the last lap, both competitors would fight for the apex into the final hairpin corner. Arpin pushed Eriksson wide, but the 600 horsepower Honda Civic Coupe, with 630 pound-feet of torque, maintained enough traction on the exit of the corner to edge the Canadian heading to the finish line.
The 0.071 second photo-finish secured Honda its first win in Red Bull GRC competition and the second win of Eriksson's career.
Teammates deJong and O. Eriksson finished fifth and seventh, respectively, and maintained their position as the highest-ranked rookies in Red Bull GRC. The 19-year-old deJong, claimed the manufacturer's 13th top-five finish.
Honda is now tied for the lead in the season-long manufacturers' championship, and the team will look to build on its early-season success as the series heads to the East Coast for the first doubleheader event of the year. Rounds 3 and 4 will be contested at the historic Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, CT. Coverage can be seen live on NBC beginning on Saturday, June 3rd, at 5:00 p.m. EDT.
Andreas Eriksson (OMSE, CEO and Team Principal) on the first-place result: "This was a long time coming and I'm so glad we achieved this result. I don't just look back at the beginning of this weekend. I look back to when we first confirmed that we were going to race the Honda Civic Coupe. We've had so much adversity and so many small successes and we all knew the only way the team would be satisfied would be to win. Today, we did that, and now we must keep winning. Not only is our team's tradition built on winning and championship results, but so is Honda and Red Bull. I want to thank Red Bull, Honda, Bluebeam and all-of our partners for their support throughout our time together. Now, we get to move forward and build on this result in New England."
Sebastian Eriksson (No. 93 Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic) on the manufacturer's first victory in Red Bull GRC: "This was a great result. It was one of the hardest fought finals I've ever been a part of. We've worked over a year and a half for this moment, to be standing on the top-step of the podium. Now, we need to work even harder to stay on top."
Mitchell deJong (No. 24 Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic) started 7th, finished 5th: "Although I didn't win, I'm so happy for the team and for Sebastian. He's worked so hard, and for him to bring the win home is awesome. We battled hard in the final, and now we can just build upon our data and my experience as we head to Thompson, Connecticut. I can't thank Red Bull, Honda, Bluebeam, Bell Helmets, Motegi Racing and Project Cars 2 for being along for the ride. We'll be back and better than ever in two weeks!"
Oliver Eriksson (No. 16 Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic): "First of all, congratulations to Honda OMSE, and great job by Sebastian! I couldn't be more proud of the team. Unfortunately, I finished in sixth after a couple tough breaks. We hit a lot of traffic in the first three corners, but we kept fighting and worked our way back to sixth, so it was just what we needed. I couldn't be more proud of the guys. I want to extend my thanks to Red Bull, Honda, Bluebeam, Bell Helmets, Motegi Racing and Project Cars 2 for their support."
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SOURCE Honda Racing