The final chapter in a quite astonishing season of success for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden. In Cape Town, South Africa next week the Torsby-based team has the opportunity to land a truly perfect season.
The FIA World Rallycross Championships are both sewn up and sorted in favour of Johan Kristoffersson and Petter Solberg’s team, but there’s the chance of some silver to go with all that gold at the Killarney International Raceway.
Petter’s shot at second place across the spread of the season is, however, a long one. The team was forced to change the engine in his Volkswagen Polo R Supercar following the last round in Buxtehude and with that comes a 15-point penalty in South Africa. One thing is sure, while there’s a hope of the perfect year, Petter won’t be giving up.
Last year Johan went to South Africa chasing an 11th podium from 12 events (he bagged it, naturally, with a win). With seven wins from those 11 podiums, the super-Swede himself questioned how a season could get any better. He’s answered that one in emphatic fashion this year; 12 months on he heads south in search of an 11th win from 12 events.
Pernilla, the end of this incredible season is in sight…
PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team principal Pernilla Solberg
“It’s been unbelievable. So much work from everybody in the team, and such a fantastic cooperation with Volkswagen Motorsport, Monster and all our partners, has made this incredible season possible and now we have one more opportunity to do the job.
“The feeling going to this last round is the same as every other race this year. Of course, with the championships decided, the pressure is a little bit less, but the preparation and commitment is just the same. We go to Cape Town to give the best of PSRX Volkswagen Sweden and Volkswagen Motorsport – we go there chasing the best result possible.
“Logistically, RX of South Africa is a little bit more complicated being a fly-away round, but it’s a fantastic place to go to race and going to such places is exactly what competing in a world championship is all about.”
Johan, how difficult is it to compete in these races when you’ve already won the title?
Johan Kristoffersson, defending FIA World Rallycross Champion
“In some ways it’s actually easier. Last time when we went to Germany Petter and I were thinking to the teams’ championship and we sorted that out there. Now I will do what I can to help Petter to get the second place, but, really, this is pure racing, pure competition this time.
“There’s no overall championship to fight for, we just have to make the best race we can and really enjoy ourselves. The pressure is definitely not off, it’s never off when you are lined up against five other supercars and you’re all heading for the same piece of racetrack at turn one!
“And, don’t forget, you’re never better than your last result, so the best way to go into the winter and the off-season is on the back of a win and that’s what I’d like to do in Cape Town. Talking of the winter, that’s another advantage of coming to South Africa – winter is just starting to arrive at home in Sweden, so to come to the southern hemisphere for some summer sun is really nice.”
Petter, what chance the silver?
Petter Solberg, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team owner/driver and triple FIA world champion
“It won’t be easy at all. Basically if any of the other three drivers (Sébastien Loeb, Andreas Bakkerud or Mattias Ekstrom) makes it to the final then I can’t do anything. I’m not thinking about any of that, I’m just thinking to my own race – I will do everything I can do and then see what happens on Sunday afternoon.
“This has been a tough season for me, in and out of the car. In the middle of the year, just to be thinking of fighting for the silver medal was a bit like a dream for me. I’m happy to be competing. It’s been a good month since Germany: I went back to the World Rally Championship and had a fantastic time driving Volkswagen’s Polo GTI R5 car, setting fastest times and having a really good time at Rally of Spain. And now we can come to one of the best tracks of the year in a fantastic place with a big crowd and a great atmosphere.
“For the second year, we go to South Africa as double champions. That’s a very special achievement for this team and a very nice feeling for me.”
Petter Solberg (NOR)
World RX starts: 60
World RX wins: 10
World RX titles: 2
Johan Kristoffersson (SWE)
World RX starts: 51
World RX wins: 19
World RX titles: 2
World RX of South Africa data
Last year’s winner: Johan Kristoffersson (SWE)
Fastest lap: Johan Kristoffersson (2017) 40.393s
Circuit length: 1067m
Asphalt/gravel: 60% – 40%