It’s hard to imagine too many Red Bull Global Rallycross fans who knew about Miki Weckstrom before the 2016 season opener in Phoenix. After all, Weckstrom was the kind of driver that Olsbergs MSE CEO Andreas Eriksson loves to bring in: someone without too much media interest in America, but with tons of raw driving talent in his native Europe. That talent made him pretty hard to miss in his GRC Lites debut. A veteran of multiple Formula Renault 2.0 seasons and a driver coach of the SMP F4 Championship, Weckstrom’s previous racing experience was almost entirely centered in the open-wheel and karting realms. He made his first rallycross starts in the RallyX on Ice championship, earning seventh in the standings despite missing the first race. His 15 points were only one short of Supercar veteran Patrik Sandell, and tied with 2015 Supercar runner-up Sebastian Eriksson. So those in the know wouldn’t have been surprised to see Weckstrom adapt pretty quickly to the course at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, which featured large sections of pavement throughout. He only qualified sixth, but in the first round of heats, he managed to defeat OMSE X Forces teammate—and defending Lites champion—Oliver Eriksson for the victory.
“Of course the tarmac section is comfortable for me with my previous experience,” he explained. “But it’s more just about finding the rhythm for the tarmac section. The gravel is fine—I mean, it hasn’t been my strongest section during the weekend, but I think we are okay.” Weckstrom rode that momentum to another win in round two, taking him all the way to the front row of the main
event. While polesitter Alex Keyes jumped to an early lead, it was Weckstrom who would eventually make it past the second-year American and take the victory. He became the first driver to win his first GRC Lites race since the class made its debut in 2013, when fellow Finn Joni Wiman took the checkered flag in New Hampshire. “On the first lap, when Alex tried overtaking like he did, I wasn’t expecting
him to try overtaking from so far away,” Weckstrom admitted. “The thing was, my spotter was telling me just to keep a normal line and that there was no need to block or anything, so it came out from the bushes for me really. “Then the next lap, Alex made a big mistake in the same corner while braking. I was just allowed to get by easily, and then I think the other guys started fighting with each other. So that’s how I managed to get away.”
“I’m super impressed with him as a driver,” Keyes added. “I talked to him a lot on Thursday actually—he’s a super cool guy. And he’s just a pure driver, you know? He hasn’t driven (competitively) in years but he came out and threw down this weekend. He really knows how to race, so I’m super impressed with him.” When all was said and done, Weckstrom would finish the weekend with a third place on Sunday, and leave the track
with the championship lead. He led a class-high 39 laps (out of a possible 44) and won all four of his heats during the weekend. At year’s end, he took third in the championship, adding another victory at Marine Corps Air Station New River and leading the class with seven podiums.
Published on Nov 30, 2016
It’s hard to imagine too many Red Bull Global Rallycross fans who knew about Miki Weckstrom before the 2016 season opener in Phoenix. After...