2017 Mid-Season Review: Sebastian Eriksson
STATS (through 6 of 12 rounds): 5th in Supercar points (330), 1 win, 1 podium, 2 heat wins
POSITIVES: After a development season in 2016, Eriksson showed that the Honda Civic Coupe is ready to win races when he edged out Steve Arpin for the victory in Louisville. The Swede beat the Canadian to the line by .071 seconds—only the third closest margin of victory that day if you account for heat races, but still a true photo finish. The win was Olsbergs MSE’s first in the Supercar class since the 2015 season finale.
“It was a great race for us,” Eriksson said of the breakthrough victory. “I was up in the lead for a few laps, but then I fell back to fourth, so it was crazy. But it was so much fun! The team has worked so hard for this over the past year and a half, and finally we’ve been able to win a race. It feels great, but we can’t stop working hard and trying to secure more victories this year.”
NEGATIVES: Eriksson’s biggest issue in 2016 was a high number of DNFs, keeping him from ranking higher than seventh in the championship despite his four podiums. He had similar mechanical issues earlier this season, with a seventh place run in Memphis on account of power steering troubles and a last-place run at New England I, and thus keeping him 42 points behind teammate Mitchell deJong in fourth place.
And while the third-year Supercar driver has proven effective in semifinals, using them to earn a first or second-row starting spot in five out of six finals, it’s the heats where Eriksson is giving up most of his points. He’s either finished last in or missed entirely five of his most recent 11 heats; taking only 12 points out of a maximum of 35 in those five sessions is a big chunk of the deficit right there. It’s much better than missing finals, but it doesn’t help in the championship chase.
OUTLOOK: Eriksson has been an all-or-nothing driver ever since switching to Honda; despite a number of podiums and even a return to victory lane, he just hasn’t had the luck in certain events. Louisville was proof that he can take on any driver in the field on any given race day and come out on top, but he’s going to need to have a very consistent second half and likely another win or two to match his runner-up points finish from 2015.
Photo credit: Louis Yio