Just two weeks after celebrating Johan Kristoffersson’s second consecutive FIA World Rallycross drivers’ championship in Austin, Texas, the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden has a second title in its sights in Germany this weekend.
The Torsby team arrives in Buxtehude 79 points ahead of nearest rival EKS Audi Sport and the focus for the pair of Polo R Supercars this weekend is on bringing home a second successful title defence in a fortnight.
A fortnight into life as a two-time world champion, Johan is primed and ready to do what he can to help team-mate and PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team owner Petter Solberg to seal second place. Petter’s in the thick of a thrilling race for second, with nine points separating four drivers. Mattias Ekström sits second right now, with 204 points, Petter’s two down on him with Andreas Bakkerud a further two behind while Sébastien Loeb starts the weekend on 195.
Pernilla, one down, one to go…
PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team principal Pernilla Solberg
“That’s exactly right. We are still all buzzing from the excitement of America and Johan’s drivers’ title. But now is the time to finish the job and go for the teams’ championship.
“This is Germany, we are in the home of Volkswagen Motorsport and to celebrate a successful title defence with them in Buxtehude would be a really special moment. That’s what we’re working towards this week. One of the crucial aspects of this track is the start and the run into the first corner – a really tight hairpin right. This place has seen so much action in the past, I think in English there’s the expression: “Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.” That’s the first corner this weekend!
“Petter has been strong here in the past, he won in 2014, but this one hasn’t been so kind to Johan. I know he will be pushing for a top three result – or maybe even a 10thwin of the season. Petter is one of four drivers chasing the second place in the championship, so it would be really nice if we could clinch this one as well – the perfect season would be something very special in 2018.”
Johan, Mr World Champion, you’re looking to go somewhere new in Germany: the Buxtehude podium…
Johan Kristoffersson, defending FIA World Rallycross Champion
“Thank you for reminding me! It’s true. I never made the podium in this race, so that has to be my number one aim for this weekend.
“It’s been a little bit crazy since we won the championship in America, with a lot of media and a lot of interest. That’s been great, but now I’m looking forward to getting back in the car and driving again. It’s nice to go there without the pressure of the championship on my shoulders, but at the same time there is a different pressure now – we want to win the teams’ championship as well!
“It would be fantastic to do that at Volkswagen’s home race in Germany.
“As well as that, I want to help Petter in his race for the silver medal. He has been such a good boss and team-mate all year – but I have a feeling he’s got something good for this race in Germany; Petter is always super-quick at this track. Let’s see what happens.”
Petter, what’s special about Buxtehude for you?
Petter Solberg, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team owner/driver and triple FIA world champion
“I won at this track in 2014 and I really like it. There’s a lot of gravel in there and it’s quite technical. We’ve seen in the past that it suits our car quite well – but it also suits the Audis.
“I have some special memories from last year – it was the first race back after the crash in Latvia and I was competing with a broken collarbone. For sure, it was a little bit painful, but the result was incredible and a real boost for me. We could have won!
“I want to go for that win this time. I’m feeling confident, I showed good pace in America and with my training back on track now I’m feeling much more like myself. I feel strong again.
“A win would be the perfect way to chase second place and the silver medal. I know [Mattias] Ekström, [Andreas] Bakkerud and [Sébastien] Loeb, they’re all going to be strong. They have all got good speed at this track, but we’ve been strong in the past.”
Petter Solberg (NOR)
World RX starts: 59
World RX wins: 10
World RX titles: 2
Johan Kristoffersson (SWE)
World RX starts: 50
World RX wins: 18
World RX titles: 2
World RX of Germany data
Circuit length: 925m
Asphalt/gravel: 60% – 40%
Johan Kristoffersson (2017) 35.227s