PR: Rookies deJong and Eriksson Score Top-Five Results in Memphis
Mitchell deJong and his No. 24 Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic utilized an aggressive strategy early in Saturday’s Final to finish fourth in the season-opening round of the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship at Memphis International Raceway, with his rookie teammate, Oliver Eriksson, following closely behind in fifth.
Capitalizing on his fourth-place qualifying effort, 19-year-old deJong, O. Eriksson and their elder teammate, Sebastian Eriksson, powered their Honda GRC Civic Coupes through three rounds of rigorous heats. Eclipsing speeds of 120 miles per hour on the high-banked Memphis International Speedway oval and navigating through the technical infield dirt section was deJong’s strength all weekend long.
In the first six-lap Semifinal contest, Temecula, Calif. native deJong managed to fend off several Red Bull GRC veterans to finish second, slotting into the inside of the second row for the Final, alongside his rookie teammate O. Eriksson. At the start, Sebastian Eriksson paced the 600 horsepower Civic Coupes, leading deJong and O. Eriksson.
On Lap 2, deJong took his mandatory Joker Lap and passed S. Eriksson after the 24-year-old suffered damage to his Civic. From there, deJong was in control, and finished fourth in just his second career Red Bull GRC Supercar event, while O. Eriksson held of three other competitors to finish fifth.
The Honda powered Olsbergs MSE team impressed the field throughout the season opening weekend. S. Eriksson captured the manufacturer’s seventh ever heat win in Heat 3A, and rookie teammates deJong and O. Eriksson tallied the 11th and 12th top-five finishes in the Honda’s young Global Rallycross history.
A video recap from this weekend’s Red Bull Global Rallycross action in Memphis is being posted on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel and social media channels. Produced by CoForce, the video can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.
The second round of the 2017 Red Bull GRC championship takes place on the grounds of the Kentucky Exposition Center, just six miles from downtown Louisville, on May 20-21. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. EDT on NBC.
Mitchell deJong (No. 24 Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic) started 4th, finished 4th: “The Honda Civic was great. We came out for practice on Friday with a great car and we kept getting better and better throughout the weekend. We were fortunate to keep our nose clean throughout the final and take the Joker Lap to run in clean air. I can’t thank Red Bull, Honda and Bluebeam enough for their support of myself and the Olsbergs MSE team. We scored great points that we can capitalize on in Louisville.”
Oliver Eriksson (No. 16 Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic) started 5th, finished 5th in first Red Bull GRC weekend: “I’m disappointed because I knew we had a better car. My right rear tire looked like a mountain bike tire by the end of the race, and I’m just glad we could finish. Obviously, as a team we want to perform well when it comes to final results, but we are constantly improving and learning about the cars, the competitors and the tracks. Keeping the championship in perspective is what matters most.”
Sebastian Eriksson (No. 93 Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic) started 3rd, finished 7th: “Tough result for us. We got a great start but just got hit from behind around midway through [the final race] and just had to finish. On the bright side, we constantly improved the car and were able to win the third heat. The new [points] format rewards those heat wins more, so we are still looking good in the overall championship.”