Solberg focuses on winning home round in Hell

Petter Solberg won last time round at Lydden: will he conquer Hell too? - Photo credit: PSRX Volkswagen Sweden

Hopes are running high at PSRX Volkswagen Sweden, as the team gets ready for this weekend’s round six of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the Lankebanen in Hell, Norway. Both the team’s drivers, local star as well as two-time World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg and Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson, are entering the event full of confidence and determination, after they’ve dominated the past two events in Belgium and Great Britain.

In the past three editions of the World Championship, neither Solberg nor Kristoffersson have been able to claim the top step of the podium here, as well as at the Swedish round of the championship in Höljes.

“It’s true,” said Solberg, “both Johan and I have never really shone in Norway and Sweden, so these next two events are so important to us. Yes, every round of the World Rallycross Championship offers the same number of points, but racing at home is special.”

Now, though, Solberg is sure to have found the key to success on the Scandinavian tracks. According to him, Volkswagen Motorsport‘s engineers have found the optimal solution, while he admits he really struggled to get his previous cars to work at their best in Hell and Höljes.

Johan and I should be a bit more confident than normal in the slower corners. Especially the ones where the car has a bit more load, says the Norwegian.

We have made lots of small gains with the car since the start of the season and last time out at Lydden, you know what? We did not have one thing wrong with the car, not one. It was absolutely and completely perfect.

Hell is a tricky circuit, as far as first-corner action is concerned. Solberg likes to call it a case of mind the gap:

“I’ve always been fairly cautious in rallycross,” he said.

I’m not the kind of driver to dive into a gap. You might get away with it sometimes, but most of the time you won’t – it’s always a gamble and at this point in the season it’s a massive gamble.

A no-score now could knock any one of the top drivers out of the championship chase. As a team, we have to look to consolidate what we’ve been doing so far this season.”

There’s plenty to be happy about for Kristoffersson too, especially as the Swede is now leading the Drivers’ Championship, four points ahead of his compatriot, and reigning champion, Mattias Ekström:

“I would definitely be happy to stay where I am for the rest of the year,” he smiled.

“Norway is always one of the trickiest races of the season and, for sure, it’s important to be racing clean all of the time during this weekend.
“We have made a fantastic start to the season and the car and the team is getting better and better all of the time. To be honest, I still can’t believe what we have achieved as the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team in such a short space of time. But this is just the beginning. The focus is on keeping the momentum going in Hell this weekend, but we have to really keep the bigger picture and the championship – and championships – in focus as well.”

Yet, Petter’s win at Lydden isn’t the biggest highlight of the past weeks for the Solberg family: last Saturday, 15-year-old Oliver, son of Petter and Pernilla Solberg (PSRX’s team principal) took his first-ever win in round two of the RallyX Nordic series in Arvika, Sweden, at the wheel of his dad’s two-time World Champion Citroen DS3 Supercar, making both his parents literally lost for words.

“Pernilla and I couldn’t be more proud of our boy. He has so much enthusiasm and motivation to get on in motorsport, it’s just amazing.

When he came to me last year and asked if he could drive the Supercar, I told him. “OK, go and get the licence, then come back to me.” I was sure he wouldn’t get the licence. But he did. And now he’s started winning races.

It’s unbelieveable. He’s unbelievable.”

World Rallycross action at Hell starts this Saturday, 10 June, with the first two qualifying sessions. The remainder of the qualifying, as well as the televised semi-finals and final, will take place the following day.