Oliver Eriksson was just a fresh-faced, excitable young racer with a great career ahead of him when 18 months ago he joined the Slightly Mad Studios team to work as a Handling Consultant on Project CARS 2. Oliver contributed enormously to the feel of the Rallycross cars in the game, alongside fellow RX racer Mitchell deJong. He also joined us at Gamescom 2017, where he demonstrated his immense prowess behind the wheel in exhibition races alongside the rest of our esteemed list of race driver consultants.
In 2018 Oliver had an absolutely phenomenal season of racing. He switched focus from the national Red Bull GRC series in the USA, and moved to Europe to concentrate of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. He started out in the RX2 support class, and put his talents to the test against the world’s best young Rallycross stars. Needless to say, Oliver came away with the championship crown and is now the RX2 World Champion. We caught up with him for a chat about his amazing year.
Since we last hung out with you at Gamescom 2017, you’ve had an incredible year. Can you sum your season for our readers?
Yeah, the 2018 season has been fantastic! I’ve competed in three different series. Won two and came second in one. I won RallyXOnIce, I came second in RallyX Nordic Supercar, and I’m now the champion of the RX2 World Series. This year it really felt like a lot of pieces fell into place. I brought over all of the experience that I gained in USA, and of course the engineering communication has been a lot easier since the development work I did with Slightly Mad Studios for Project CARS 2.
Before RX2, you were mostly competing in national competitions, so has travelling the world with the World Rallycross circus been a big change for you?
Outside of my own racing career, I’ve actually been quite used to travelling. My dad drove in the European Rallycross Championship when I was growing up, so I’ve basically lived in race paddocks around Europe all my life, but of course competing in the world series there are some longer distances to travel, but I’ve learned some tricks to keep me sharp along the way.
There’s a lot of love in the Project CARS community for the handling of the RX Lites, which you really helped us to perfect with your feedback during the development process. How do the Lites compare to what the car you’ve been racing this year in RX2?
It’s incredibly similar. It handles in the game as a winning car in real life should. It’s perfect for me as a driver in the series because I can use the sim driving to be more prepared for the next upcoming race. Since the handling is so good and most of the championship tracks are in the game I find it easier and faster to learn tracks, and I can use the time that I save there to perfect the setup of my car instead.
Did you use the game to help you to learn some of the European RX tracks that you visited for the first time in real-life this year?
Preperation is everything in motorsport and as RX2 is a spec series It’s even more important. We need every little detail to be absolutely prefect, and that includes the driver! I try to get the upper hand over my competitors in Everything so of course when most of them had already driven on the tracks that we visited this year, I had some catching up to do. This is were Project CARS 2 really helped me. To be prepared for every weekend and for every track that we were up against.
You also worked on the handling of the epically fast RX Supercars in Project CARS 2, including your own Honda Civic GRC which you raced in the US in 2017. Can we expect to see you back in a RX Supercar soon after your RX2 success?
Of course the ultimate goal is always to drive a Supercar like the Honda Civic GRC but we felt for this season since were changing series that many of the tracks would be new to me, so it was a good move to do a season in RX2. I’m working hard to prove myself to get a Supercar seat next, and this season for sure increased my chances of achieving that.
Give us three top tips that sim-racers could use to improve their speed and their race craft on gravel.
The best tip I can give is to find that fine balance between being aggressive and being smooth. Normally you just want to be aggressive in the entry of the corner but as soon as you get the rotation going you have to change your driving into being smooth to get the best possible exit by maintaining the momentum. Late braking is important too. Just because it’s slippery doesn’t necessarily mean it that the braking is less efficient. The car brakes when going sideways so by braking a little later and using a little more rotation, you can become more efficient. Finally, in Rallycross I always focus on corner exits. The sooner you can get on full throttle, the quicker you will be through the corner, so sometimes you should sacrifice a tenth in entry or mid corner to get a perfect exit.
Finally, where can Project CARS fans follow your racing journey next season?
You’ll find Everything I’m up to on my social media channels!
And also on my teams channels: @OlsbergsMSE