Euro RX: Ulrik Linnemann – the rallycross underdog with a ferocious bite


Ulrik Linnemann is the epitome of a rallycross privateer punching above his weight. 

Nothing gives him more satisfaction than finishing on the FIA European Rallycross Championship podium in his family-run older-spec car – just as he did amidst a star-studded Euro RX1 field last time out at Mettet in Belgium.

He’s even come close to winning the title, having finished runner-up in 2015 after a close fight with Jānis Baumanis and then missing out on the top prize by just two points after an even closer scrap with Krisztián Szabó in 2016.

Linnemann’s passion for rallycross is as strong now as it was when he graduated from folkracing; where he’d been Danish champion at the age of 17.

Inspired by fellow Danish driver Morten Jespersen, Linnemann made his European Rallycross Championship debut in 2008, driving a Škoda Fabia.

Fast forward 15 years and he started this season in a Ford Fiesta, but after two rounds he swapped it for a hired Volkswagen Polo – after finding the 2017 title winning ex- Anton Marklund car was a full second per lap quicker around Höljes in testing.

And when it came to racing at the famous Swedish track, Linnemann led the final (having made a great start from fourth on the grid) before finishing third.

He was even more impressive at Mettet, where he won his semi-final, despite breaking the front suspension in the squeeze to the first corner and having to drive all five laps with a front wheel flapping back and fore.

The result gave him a front row slot for the final, where he drove a brilliant race to finish a season-best second.

“It’s a lot of fun beating the big teams when you’re the underdog,” says Linnemann. 

“Every race weekend my aim is to try to be in the final. Anything can happen if you reach the final, including a win and good points for the championship. 

“The Volkswagen is a good car, but it’s not at the same level as the best Euro RX1 cars, so against the likes of Anton Marklund, Jānis Baumanis and Patrick O'Donovan we are happy to be in the mix with them. 

“Of course, I’d like to have a car to beat them, but the challenge is to beat them in a car that perhaps shouldn’t be able to beat them!”

Linnemann is also dedicated to developing rallycross in his homeland and runs his own team in the Danish Rallycross Championship as well as coaching young drivers. 

“Circuit racing is very popular in Denmark because of course we have Kevin Magnussen in Formula One and Tom Kristensen has won Le Mans nine times. Rallying is also popular, but rallycross is not so well known and I am trying to change that,” adds Linnemann.

“I have been dreaming about rallycross all my life and when I was young I wanted to be a works driver. 

“It will be interesting to see the future of rallycross, because I believe it has a bright future and maybe those opportunities will return. 

“But for now we keep going and continue to race under our team motto of ‘never give up’. 

The final round of this year’s Euro RX1 takes place at Estering in Germany (19-20 August).