To every rallycross driver, racing at the Lydden Hill circuit near Wotton, Kent, always feels special. In fact, it was on this small racetrack in the south east of England that rallycross was born in 1967.
And this year, on the discipline’s fiftieth anniversary, the British round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship is set to be held there for the last time: from next season onwards, and until further notice, the World Championship will race at Silverstone, on an all-new rallycross layout that will be presented to the media in a few days.
Among the most successful rallycross drivers of all time, there is Norwegian Petter Solberg, whose motorsports career started in the early 1990s, when he competed in rallycross at national level. He then moved on to rallying, becoming 2003 World Rally Champion with Japanese manufacturer Subaru, until 2013, when he returned to rallycross with his team in the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars. The following year, a World Championship was created, and Solberg went on to win it, repeating his feat in 2015.
Solberg’s newly rebranded team, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden, is currently fielding two VW Polo GTI Supercars for Solberg himself and for his Swedish team-mate, Johan Kristoffersson.
“Lydden is where our PSRX adventure started in 2013,” Solberg said.
“Rallycross has a long history in my family, so you can imagine Lydden Hill has a special place in our hearts. I remember when I was younger watching heroes like Martin Schanche going through corners like Paddock Bend and just thinking how much I would love to do that.
“Two years ago I won at Lydden and standing on top of the car there, the history and emotion of the place was incredible. It would be the perfect place for me to celebrate my first win of the season this weekend – it would mean so much to me to sign off on Lydden with a win. But I’m guessing there are a few guys out there who feel the same way!”
Solberg’s team-mate, Kristoffersson, winner of the last WorldRX round in Belgium (12-14 May), went on to win last weekend’s Scandinavian Touring Car Championship in Alastaro, Finland, and is now aiming at a hat-trick of three victories in as many racing weekends.
“I am feeling very good right now,” said Kristoffersson.
“The last two weekends have been really strong for me and I want to carry that into Lydden. The PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team showed real consistency and speed in Belgium and we’ll need more of the same when we get to Britain. Petter won two years ago and probably deserved the win after being fastest all the time last year, so we have good knowledge of what it takes to win at this track.
“Like Petter says, it will be an emotional weekend at Lydden. Everybody who loves our sport knows about this place and to compete at our last race there for now, will be a strange feeling. But nothing changes for us as a team, we set-out to make the best job and take as many points as possible – catching Mattias [Ekström, current Drivers’ Championship leader] and keeping PSRX Volkswagen Sweden at the top of the table is the priority.”
Qualifying at Lydden Hill is set to start tomorrow, 27 May, at 12:30.