LEGENDS OF RALLYCROSS: PER EKLUND
First in a new series looking at some of the legendary figures to have starred in the first 50 years of rallycross.
Rallycross Legend: Per Eklund
RX Highlight: 1999 European Champion
Per Eklund comes from Arvika in Sweden (the same town as Johan Kristoffersson) and has been competing in top-level motorsport for over 50 years, but these days is more often found working in the paddock of FIA World Rallycross Championship events than he is behind the wheel of a Supercar, although he does make the odd appearance on track too. His most recent World RX start was at Holjes in Sweden in 2015, racing a Saab 93, a circuit he helped to design over 40 years ago.
Eklund began driving in rallies as soon as he could legally drive and was part of the first wave of truly international rallycross drivers in the 1970s. His greatest career achievements have included winning the Swedish round of the FIA World Rally Championship in 1976 in a Saab V4, claiming the FIA European Rallycross Championship title in 1999 after a titanic battle with arch-rival Kenneth Hansen and winning the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, twice. The first trip to the North American hill climb event was with the assistance of Saab, in part as a reward for winning the Euro RX crown in a Saab 93.
Few drivers have driven for as many different works (manufacturer) teams in the world of rallying, the Swedish legend competing in events all over the world before such exploits became more common practice. As well as driving talent, Eklund is also famous for his engineering ability, and is renowned for building tough cars. Even though he celebrated his 71st birthday last week, Eklund is no stranger to putting in the hours when required. As recently as at this season's opener at Barcelona, Eklund Motorsport driver Henning Solberg had an accident that required an 'all-nighter' to repair the damage.
Solberg is just one of the drivers that now competes for Eklund Motorsport as part of its customer arrive-and-drive programme, and is currently the only team in the World RX paddock running Volkswagen Beetle Supercars.