Only the best team is good enough
You can see them in the background on TV, out of focus on still images/photographs captured in the service area or on the grid; Find Their feet sticking out underneath the car, their heads down in the engine compartment down, under the bonnet, behind computers or, over the pots and pans in the kitchen. Without my team there I would never have been a double FIA World RX champion. Here is my tribute to my best friends, helpers and family: the PSRX team!
I have been in countless discussions about the importance of a good team and whether rallycross – (and motorsports in general –) should be referred to as a team sport. My contention is clear, I firmly believe the answer to this is YES! For me, to even think about competing at all in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, I must have a team around me. How good the team is, determines how well I will achieve.
My team is hand-picked. I’ve put together a group of people who want exactly the same as me. They want to win as much as I do, and they will do whatever it takes, no matter how “impossible” it may seem at times.
There are people with wives, husbands, children, family and friends at home, who are also an important part of our team. And that we try our best to take care of. Life in World RX is tough, and we are often out travelling for a long time. It’s a comfort for all of us knowing that those who are at home, support us fully in our determination and quest to fulfill goals and dreams.
The 2016 pre-season and the season-opener in Portugal is the best example of how PSRX thinks and performs as a team. Having rebuilt large parts of last year’s “Golden Car”, we were put under huge pressure to get it 100 percent competitive and ready for the first race.
We did the first proper test just five weeks before the season began. In Lohéac, France, we found partially good conditions to get a good first impression of the changes we had made with the car during winter. Then we left behind all equipment in France and returned home to work on parts and details during Easter week. Then we met again on our second test in Estering, Germany, and from there we went for a final session in Lousada, Portugal.
Let’s just briefly recapture our struggles that led to race success: Almost all the other World RX teams also came to Lousada, did some test runs and disappeared again. PSRX were among one of the first of the teams to arrive and also were one of the last to leave as well.
Late in on the evening before scrutieneering, the team and I felt that we had a competitive car. Only then did we decided to enter the World Championship circuit in Montalégre a couple of hours away.
We spend a lot of human resources in our preparations. But my team’s philosophy is that it would have been pointless for us to emerge start in Montalégre without being fully prepared. In the final three weeks before the race, a base of 10 technicians, mechanics, helpers, team members and I worked around the clock under a small roof as the only protection against rain, snow and hail in Lousada. We worked to make the car more than right. We worked to make it perfect.
An estimated 70 percent of the car has been changed from the previous season. The most important changes are related to geometry and weight distribution. Our competitors in several factory teams are also working around the clock with development. We can easily see that with Peugeot, Hoonigan, EKS and Volkswagen Sweden who have more resources than we do.
But in my opinion we have more passion. And you can’t beat passion!
After the victory in Portugal I have been thinking a lot about our journey so far. We have faced many challenges, but all of my team members stand together through thick and thin. Unity is the most important attribute a team can possess. We did not count on victory in the first race of the season. We do not believe the season will be easy – but what we now know from the race in Portugal, should reflect the 2016 season for us:
1) When we are struggling and we have been beaten (like on Saturday), we must still keep faith and believe in the plan and our strategy. In order to achieve success in a World RX race and to win the final, the most important job is to get stay safe through the four qualifiers and then the semi-final.
2) It’s better to be safe than sorry. What you don’t get to do today, you can only regret tomorrow!
A huge thank you to my team for the enormous work you performed in the pre-season and during the race. I received the first prize on behalf of all of you!