Petter Solberg believes a sensible approach to next weekend’s Coyote World RX of Belgium is essential as his PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team looks to build on their impressive double podium last time out in Portugal.
It’s been a slightly topsy-turvy start to the season for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden by their standards, but the team arrive in Mettet at the top of the drivers’ and teams’ championship after back-to-back wins and three podiums from a possible four so far in 2018.
Whilst Johan Kristoffersson chases his third win of the season, Solberg has yet to record a race win so far this campaign, and the Norwegian returns to the track where he narrowly missed out on victory last year as his team-mate triumphed in the final.
The former WRC champion currently sits third in the championship standings, ten points adrift of Kristoffersson and Solberg admits victory will come as soon as he finishes ahead of his team-mate.
“I’ll win just as soon as I can beat my team-mate!” said Solberg, “and this is even more important now he has overtaken me in terms of overall WRX wins.
“I want the win, but I won’t risk everything for it,” claimed the Norwegian, “we have to be sensible and add the points all the time.
“The first two races have been quite strange. We were really quick, probably the fastest, at round one, but we had no luck.
“Then in Portugal last time we struggled a little bit, but we made the podium.
“You know me, you know how much I want to win, more than anything. I’m really happy to see Johan on the top step, but I think I’m ready for a go up there as well now!”
The two-time FIA World Rallycross Champion insists his team are doing everything possible to ensure they’re ahead of the rest of the field, with each race getting tighter as the competition in the 2018 season heats up.
“This sport comes down to the fine details and these are what we are working so hard on right now,” added Solberg, “we are working harder than ever on our strategy and we’re looking at everything we can do to bring a small advantage.
“But at the same time, we’re early in the season and this isn’t the time to be taking big risks.
“I know we had the speed in Barcelona and then we got some bad luck in Portugal when they put the gravel out in the qualifying heats,” said the 43-year-old, “we got some really slippery conditions and could only make 10th fastest in that heat.
“That’s the difference in World RX today – you have some small detail that doesn’t work for you and you are tenth,” stressed Solberg, “that’s why we focus on detail.”
Circuit Jules Tacheny is a popular one amongst the drivers, with the 1.149KM stretch of track originally being developed as a motorcycle circuit. The gravel chicanes and low-speed turns make it one of the most technical circuits on the calendar, requiring heavy preparation and set-up work.
And the small Belgian province of Mettet has proved to be a happy hunting ground for Kristoffersson, as the reigning World RX Champion aims to secure his tenth win from the last 11 World RX rounds.
“It’s a nice track and it’s a good place to race,” said the Swede, “it’s definitely somewhere I have good memories of as this is where we took our first win with the new team last year.
“It’s the kind of place where you really have to be on your toes, you have to be ready to adapt to the conditions changing really quickly.
“One of the things we learned in Portugal was the importance of not focusing on anything except for what we’re doing,” stated Kristoffersson, “we don’t get distracted by anybody, any other team or anything.
“All the time now we are just looking at Petter and me and the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team and thinking what can we do to be better?”
Despite the success in Montalegre, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Team Principal Pernilla Solberg was adamant that the team still have room for improvement, and she is confident the team can replicate the winning feeling they enjoyed in Belgium 12 months ago.
“After Portugal, we took some time to talk about where we felt we were behind, why that was and how we were going to put it right,” said Penilla, sister of Petter, “we were very honest, we prioritised and the team worked really hard to make everything right.
“What we have done is gone away, quietly re-prepared ourselves and now we’re ready to hit the ground running even faster in Belgium.”
“It would just be nice to get out there and see some sun – especially for the fans.
“We’re PSRX Volkswagen Sweden, we like the snow; we love the snow – but spring has sprung, so let’s have some sunshine after the winter rewind last time out.”