Nitrocross NEXT exists to give up and coming talent a chance to shine, to prove that they belong on the big stage. And last time out we saw it bear fruit as Casper Jansson became the first driver in the Nitrocross era to graduate to the top class from NEXT.
Stepping in late on for the unwell Benito Guerra, the 2021 Nitrocross NEXT champion showed well to make the final on both days. Seventh was the result on the Saturday before taking fourth on the Sunday, resisting a charging Travis Pastrana.
“I had really good speed from the beginning, we had done just the two test days before, so quite good speed in the beginning and [on Sunday] was better speed and we ended up fourth in the final,” said Jansson. “The last lap was incredible, it was really fun, maybe the best fight in my career so far. It was really fun to fight with the big names also, it was awesome.”
Jansson’s Group E debut came at a double-header event, effectively giving him two full ‘weekends’ of racing in one to speed up his development and aid his learning.
“For me it was really important so I could learn the car more,” he said. “The first day was like a practice, and the second day more like ‘go for a fight’.”
But not only that, Jansson was still racing in NEXT, where he claimed back-to-back wins to extend his winning streak to three and equal points leader Lane Vacala's season total of victories so far.
“I thought before that it was going to be easy but it was harder than I thought because jumping from the lites car to the FC1 was not too easy,” he said of the transition between the 1000 horsepower electric FC1-X Group E car and the 310 horsepower combustion SuperCar Lites NEXT car. “There’s so much horsepower in the FC1 that I didn’t have in the Lites so it was quite difficult.”
His transition, however, was aided by racing with the crack Osbergs MSE team, whose drivers – Kevin and Oliver Eriksson – have a wealth of experience in a range of different machinery, including the FC1-X and the Lites cars which they both helped develop.
“It’s good,” Jansson said. “You have the data from them and you can learn from them. It’s really good to drive with them.”
After impressing on his Group E debut, Jansson of course wants to continue in the class, but needs backing to make the move permanent. He will be back in the NEXT class this weekend at Glen Helen Raceway where he’ll continue to fight for a second class title.
“We need the budget for that,” he admitted. “We need to find some new sponsors to find the money and then maybe we can do some more races.”