In 2014 we won the first ever FIA World Rallycross Championship by 46 points. In 2015 the gap to our nearest rival was reduced to 26. This year, the title race is set to be much closer; thanks to the duel Solberg vs Ekström.
It was great to become World Champion again in 2014 after eleven years without the taste of gold. I was also very excited about winning a third career World title last year. Yet I sit here with a feeling that the 2016 title is the one to really reach out for. If Ekström, Solberg, Kristoffersson, Loeb or someone else manages to pull it off, remains to be seen.
One thing is certain: It will be a closer and more difficult fight than ever before!
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Mattias Ekström leads the FIA World RX Championship before the party goes on to Sweden. The Swede has a five point advantage on me after five (out of 12) rounds. Everyone else is 40 points or more behind. There is a reason for that …
Ekström and I are rivals, but we also have a mutual respect for each other. The same applies to our teams. We have great respect for how they work and vice versa. Why? Because we do a lot of very similar things to reach success. We always turn up maximum prepared for a season and a race, we have a clear strategy and follow it, we respect each other and everyone else, both on and off the track. We analyze situations before and after the races, develop our cars and equipment constantly and we refuse to be satisfied with what we have.
Never being satisfied is both a pleasure and a curse. This leads to an excessive amount of work for the team, but it also gains results – and results are what both Mattias, I and our teams live by and for.
To be completely honest; I love this duel! The 2016 FIA World RX Championship has a high standing because there are multiple drivers as genuinely fighting for the title. In the fight against Ekström and co. there is no room for error, and every day one have to look for improvements of both car and driver characteristics.
Here’s a particularly interesting observation from Lydden Hill two races ago: Five times the track records (4 and 6 rounds) were crushed on the legendary track. The last two years the qualifying times (4 laps) has been smashed with 6.7 seconds, and the finals 9 seconds.
No, everything wasn’t better before …
My prediction is that the battle between Ekström and me will continue at the highest level and last until the end – and others can still come back. The season is only less than half way of its way in.
Argentina 27-28 November will be the decisive race! Although Mattias says he needs to do the DTM in October, when the race at Hockenheim collides with rallycross on Estering in Germany. I tried to squeeze him a bit at Lydden Hill last week, but couldn’t make him answer clearly about it.
I think I will be right when I already state that we are going to see Mattias Ekström in his white Audi S1 also at Estering 15-16 October…
Petter Solberg World RX Team is not quite like any other team. I’m incredibly proud of what we achieve together with our sponsors and WITHOUT a single part or support from the car brand that we run. In 29 FIA World RX Championship races we have nine wins and a total of 21 positions on the podium.
When the dream has become reality. When the goal has been reached. When the trophy is finally in the right hands – your hands. There and then, on the stage in front of an entire motorsports world in Doha, it seriously hit me as to what I have managed – I am a World Champion! Again!
I followed a new dream, I pushed difficulties aside, I never gave up and I got paid in something far more valuable than money.
Nothing can match the self-respect that is left after reaching the ultimate goal. Even if dreams are big or small; to set goals and to struggle to achieve them are among the most important challenges that exist in life.In my new sport there were many drivers who dreamed of becoming the first ever world champion. But in the end my team was working the hardest,we played the smartest and did most things right on the way towards the goal.
We made a plan and had small targets along the way during the season. We took calculated risks, we tried out new opportunities, we thought differently; We dreamed together and set common goals, and we reached our goals together.
In 2003 I didn’t get a trophy to take with me back home after the World Rally Championship prize giving. Just a couple of weeks ago at the combined World Championship and my 40th birthday party at home in my workshop, I received a copy of the 2003 trophy by my wife Pernilla and son Oliver. Through eleven years I had been a little sorry that I never got a trophy – the surprise by Oliver and Pernilla was absolutely fantastic!
To me the trophies say it all. I seldom look back at achievements now when I’m still in the game, I’m only looking forward. But one day even I will retire. Then I want to look back at what I’ve actually done. The most prestigious one in my 2014 collection is the Lifetime Achievement Award that I received at the Autosport Awards in London a couple of weeks ago.
To celebrate a world title is something very special. Eleven years passed before I got fulfilled the dream again. After the title race was settled in Italy in September, I decided to celebrate it in the best possible way with all my friends around me. We ended up at my workshop in Torsby with 220 invited friends, loved ones and acquaintances. Than was a very emotional evening.
It feels really different to wake in the morning now. As usual it happens early – around 7 o’clock. I normally go to the bathroom, look into the mirror and tell myself that I can reach any goal I set for myself if I work hard enough for it. Just like my dear mother taught me to do many years ago. The smile and self-image I get in return is worth every minute of struggle. The journey of life must also contain downs if one should be able to enjoy the highs to the fullest.
One more year is now behind us. It has been the most successful in my career. The World title, five race victories, nine podium finishes (from twelve races), 24 heat victories (from 72 in total) in the World RX – plus the Monster Super Charge award (first car into the first corner in the RX finals) and a further four triumphs in unofficial races. In addition my son Oliver had an equally good crosskart season with three titles (Northern European, Swedish and Norwegian champion) and nine single victories which means just as much to me.
My main plan for 2015 is to defend my World RX title. It is guaranteed be difficult to win again in 2015, but we have a good and developed plan to do it, and this year’s World Championship gold made me even hungrier for success.
Race victories and titles are doing something to me. I am 110 percent sure that this year’s season in rallycross has made me a better motorsport performer. Therefore I have also toyed with the idea of driving a couple of WRC rounds if a good enough offer arises. I would also like to measure forces against GRC drivers in the X Games – and I want to win Race of Champions individually. The experience in Barbados before Christmas was really great. What a wonderful event the Race of Champions is! Thanks to everyone in the organization and my colleagues who contributed to a life experience, and thanks to Tom Kristensen for a successful and very inspiring collaboration that led us to the top of the Nations Cup!
But on top of my list of wishes for 2015 is to retain my Championship crown in rallycross. Period!
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!
Turning two into three and three into four, that’s the job I will start this weekend. However I’m only interested in the number one!
Let me reveal one of my – until now – secret weapon… Jean-Claude Vaucard is a true legend of motorsport. He’s engineered some of the world’s fastest rally and race cars, including the Xsara WRC Sebastien Loeb made his name in and Volkswagen’s Race Touareg, which set new standards in off-road racing at the Dakar. And now Jean-Claude is working with us.
It’s fantastic to have somebody like Jean-Claude working on the car; he attended some of our pre-season testing and came up with some solutions I hadn’t thought of. He really is a legend and he’s our secret weapon this season!
It’s been too long out of the car for me. I don’t like to have such a big break away from competition, but I don’t talk about that any more. Like the races and the championships we have won, they are history, something to smile about when I retire – a lot of years from now.
I am only interested to look forward. This week and this season. And what a fight, what an incredible year we are going to have. There are more drivers than ever in a position to win races this year, more drivers than ever who want to take the championship in Argentina. We have to be better than them all.
There’s a lot of talk about Sebastien Loeb and that’s understandable. He’s amazing. If you want to talk numbers, go and talk numbers with Loeb – his are the best statistics. I have known him for a long time and I know what a fierce competitor he is. Out of the car he’s nice, but in the car, trust me, he’s Mr Tough Guy.
Loeb will be at the front fighting. We know what he did in rallying and we’ve seen his racing ability in the World Touring Car Championship – he was also impressive in the two rallycross races he did before. As well as that, he has a very good car and a very good team behind him. But, like I said, Seb is one of eight, nine or maybe even 10 drivers who could win races this year.
As I stand here in Portugal before our final shakedown test, it’s hard not to feel a little bit like the underdog. Some of the teams here are testing three cars and they’ve got their big hospitality and big budgets. PSRX is a smaller team than most, but we’ve shown how effective, efficient and competitive we are.
The one question any athlete shouldn’t ask themselves is, ‘what if things were different?’
I’m in need of just five points to win the 2015 FIA World RX Championship title – Would I ask myself ‘What if I had done just a little better in one of the twelve races so far?’
No way! I did my very best in each and every one of them. Period!
I never ask myself ‘what if’.
Actually, I have enjoyed every day after the penultimate race in Italy in mid-October. I have been proud of being in a position where the advantage is pretty solid and the championship title will be decided in the final round.
We could have decided the title fight in Italy by winning the event.
But we didn’t.
End of story!
Last time out I managed to clinch the championship with two World RX races to go. For my first ever World title, in the 2003 WRC, I was one point behind (Loeb and Sainz) before the final round. With me winning in Wales and Loeb taking second place in that amazing event, I managed to win the title by one single point!
I predict an even closer FIA World RX Championship in 2016 – That’s exactly why I enjoy these days; ‘cause I probably will not experience the exact same thing ever again…
So this is probably as good as it gets!
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Compared to the 2003 WRC Championship, I’m in a totally different position before the 2016 (World RX) finale; I’m 26 points ahead of my closest rival (Timmy Hansen). Since there’s a maximum of 30 points to be given out during a World RX weekend, I would need to score 5 points to secure the title. That means I need to qualify for the semi-finals in Argentina!
In 24 FIA World RX races ever I have never missed out from a FIA World RX semi-finale!
No ‘what if’!
I am very well prepared ahead the final race of the season. My self-esteem is high after nine podium finishes from twelve races so far – my team is prepared – we will work in the exact same way as we always do at races; not thinking about results – only performance.
We refuse to wake up on the Monday after a race thinking that we should have done something different during the weekend.
That’s why there’s no ‘what ifs’ on our minds; we act when we need to act. Or it’s too late!
In my opinion athletes worry too much about things that cannot be changed. Thinking too much before an event is the whole reason for people being nervous!
Take a few seconds to think about that.
Everyone has been there before; thinking ‘what if I wasn’t that nervous before the start?’
I tell you this: If all preparations has been the best possible, then there’s nothing more to do and no reason at all to be nervous.
Sports is all about hard work, targets, winning and losing.
Sometimes you win, that should make you excited. And sometimes you lose, which should be indeed motivating.
Because losing is just a necessary obstacle on the road to victory!
Everybody, all around the world, knows about James Bond. He’s the good guy who gets the job done. Period.
But every now and then, Bond has to be a little bit bad. He has to get his hands dirty to get the job done. And that’s what makes him great, he can do the job the good way, the easy way, the hard way and the really, really tough way.
In the end, though, you just know that Bond’s going to come out of the chaos smiling. I’ve been watching a lot of Bond recently.
The PSRX engineers are even cleverer than Q, so the supercar’s ready for the best race since Bond tore through the Parisian streets in half a Renault 11. And, no matter how scary my competitors think they are, they’ve got nothing on May Day in a View to a Kill.
Yes, you’re right, Day won that particular battle, but Bond won the war.
Since the disappointment of our home race, M and I have been working on a plan to stop the others taking over the [FIA] World [Rallycross Championship].
As far as I’m concerned, The World is Not Enough anymore. I’m going to get my GoldenEye in and beat The Living Daylights out of the opposition.
I for sure will Never Say Never Again.
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Seriously, I’m taking the gloves off. I understand now that the rules of this game are a little bit different. A nudge here, a tap there is part of the game, so I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about my game plan and it’s time to toughen up a little bit.
And now is the time to do it! I’m not going to look back in November and regret not doing anything. After being qualified for 18 straight FIA World RX finals, I missed out for the first time in Canada. When the same thing happened on home turf in Norway, we had to take things seriously. No doubt my competitors has changed; they are tougher driving vise than before. Now I’ll have to start defending myself!
I want my third FIA World Championship, I’m desperate for it and I now understand I’m going to have to fight for it. I’m ready for that fight; it’s time to show some teeth.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking Jaws from The Spy Who Loves Me or Moonraker, I’m talking about being smart! And, don’t forget, Bond always brings the best baddies around. May Day came around to his way of thinking and the lovely Sévérine certainly did.
So, there we are. We will take on the rest of the 2015 season with a new mindset. Five races is left of the season; 150 points to battle for. Every single one of them can be crucial. It’s about time to show what I’m made of – and to see what the others can take. It’s Live and Let Die!
We’ve been shaken and stirred into action here.
A real champion needs to be prepared for tougher times and capable of getting back on the right trail. Sports as in life in general is not easy to balance. Usually it’s just a matter of small adjustments.
Do not play with success! Once you begin to master something, win something, one will soon want to have more. And then even more, so much more. The trick is to take care of the success you have – to avoid taking on even more and finally too much.
Our start to the season has been rather unique. Two wins and two second places is pretty much more than one would expect in such an unpredictable sport that Rallycross is. We know the car is good enough and so is by far the team, but there are still so many unknown elements that have to come together to finish in the top two in the first four consecutive races.
Before the season, in early March, the whole team met to discuss the challenge ahead and the first four races of the coming season were devoted extra attention. Four races in four weeks requires a carefully thought out plan. There was certainly no room for mistakes either before, during or after the races, so naturally, our plan demanded the greatest degree of attention and accuracy:
* Avoid excessive damage to the RX car.
* All transfers, including the set-up and packing down, must be extremely effective.
* We must have clear back-up plans for all scenarios.
As it was said in the meeting: The first four races will form the basis for the entire rest of the season. It was clear to everyone in the team that we were facing four very demanding and arduous weeks after three months of hard work. Fortunately, I have a team that immediately understood what they had to do, and everyone was willing to do what was required – and then some!
After the four gruelling races in Portugal, Germany, Belgium and Great Britain, we were rewarded with 112 World RX points in total, 29 points more than our closest challenger.
It’s almost too good to be true.
All due to my unique team and sponsors. We have done it without any manufacturer support like our main competitors have!
Just before my victory at Lydden Hill (Great Britain), I faced a difficult choice. My team was given a very valuable invitation to the X Games in Austin, Texas and we had to quickly decide whether to attend.
Who does not dream of a gold medal in the X Games? I for sure wouldn’t mind…
But even if the will and desire to win was strong as it could be, our common sense won the struggle. The 2015 FIA World RX Championship has our full attention, it is something we have worked on for the last 200 days or so. Our resources are limited to 13 World Cup races,meaning it would have been a big risk to our World RX plan to do a race in the United States if something had happened to the car.
Instead, we kept to our plan with two very important test days in Höljes, Sweden. Those tests lay the foundation for the car’s capacity and performance for the rest of the World RX season.
Let there be no secret that I’m extremely satisfied with what came out of the last four weeks.
Now it’s time to focus on races in Germany and Sweden before all the equipment is to be sent to Canada. Three hectic weeks lay ahead of us before we can treat ourselves to a small summer vacation.
Preparations in recent weeks have been close to optimal. We are ready and are enormously looking forward to embarking on new adventures in the FIA World RX Championship.
One must work hard to achieve success. The whole team has worked long hours and late evenings. It remains to be seen if our priorities that led us to Höljes over Austin have been right.
Less than one month remain until I start a World title defence for the second time in my career. The only thing I am quite sure of before the season starts is that the key to success lies in our preparations. Whoever is best prepared for the whole upcoming season will be the 2015 World Rallycross Champion!
It’s not just about sporting preparations and having the best car, but it’s also about the preparations that will optimize the working conditions of all my team members. Among other things, one of the priority tasks throughout winter has been the organization of our race service tent and the workshop in Torsby together with my sponsor Teng Tools.
For several months we have worked intensely together with Teng Tools’ concept developers in Taiwan and Sweden to optimize our race service area that my team bring on the trailer and in containers to all the World RX races. Although we took the first ever World title in rallycross after five race wins and a total of nine podium finishes last year, there is a great potential for improvement.
What we did in 2014 isn’t good enough for the World title in 2015.
Defending a title is one of the hardest challenges in the world of sports. To copy the previous season will not do. When we had won the title last September with two races to go, we immediately sat down and planned for 2015. We concluded that preparations are the key factor and among the most important elements we recognised, we noticed we could improve on the reorganization of the race service tent. The new layout that Teng Tools and my team is developing together is not only “the best ever” to look at; it also will become super efficient. I am convinced that we will now be better equipped in that area than any other World RX team.
Our service space inside the 200 square meter tent is the base for the team out on the run. That’s where we perform all the final preparations with the car before races and make sure that we have a winning car available for every heat in the World RX (total of 78). Four mechanics have at minimum 20 minutes working time to make the car as good as new between heats.
Our greatest strength in 2014 was the extent of service on the car in between heats. My guys were able to remove key components between each heat to assure us that everything was in order. For me it is psychologically immensely important to know for sure that everything works and that all possible uncertainties and doubts are removed. I have the world’s best rallycross mechanics in my team, and when they get everything arranged for themselves to do the best possible job, I have a hard time believing that we will be overturned on that area.
Every conceivable shortcuts to a fast, efficient and reliable service for my World RX car must be facilitated – 78 times. The accuracy of the service park and among my mechanics is one of several important elements in our plan for 2015.
My own preparations before and during races are also optimized. Without revealing any details, I can say that we evaluate extensive data figures from each VM circuit. We are strong on analysis which also brings assertiveness into the team. We won last year partly through being smart and this year we will be even smarter and more calculated.
Every employee and hired team member has dedicated work at the circuit. And for each one, the goal is to be even better than last time in their specific job. We focus a lot on interaction between team members. Winning culture in the team is a very important detail on the way towards success.
I myself have handpicked every team member, and the main characteristics I’ve looked for is the ability to interact and being positive in the group. A team is no better than its weakest link. I have been part of huge factory teams in rallying where the budgets and the number of employees was almost unreal, but when all is said and done it’s the sum of our common will to win that creates success.
Beside massive organizational and sponsorship work, I have prepared myself for the season just as «normal». For the third consecutive year, my wife Pernilla and I won the Rally Sweden Historic in our Ford Escort MkII. Three weeks before that I took my son, Oliver out in the Finnskogsvalsen rally. In total that means nearly 300 k’s with full speed training.
It’s not possible to practice with the rallycross car because of both economic and practical reasons. The custom-built 600-horsepower car is rarely screwed together outside the World RX races, and it is always evolving. Therefore I use every opportunity to run other cars and train in other disciplines. Even karting, ATV and snowmobiling is good training for a driver that wants to be the best. In addition, I think it’s the funniest activity ever to run fast by car.
In my eyes it’s a success formula to every athlete to reach the top: Train more than any other on what you should become good at!
We will continue driving in World Rallycross Championship with the same car as last year, but in anevolved condition. The car was transported straight from the season ending in Argentina and brought home to two of my mechanics in England to undergo the most extensive changes before the 2015 season. In the past couple of months and weeks my team has been working Flat Out. The preparations is key to 2015 World RX. I know it and my team knows it.
The season start in World RX is taking place in the Portuguese town of Montalegre April 25-26.
One of my most important experiences within motorsport was to sit beside Colin McRae and Tommi Mäkinen in a rally car when I was still young and inexperienced.
To see and feel the level of the world’s best athletes of my sport was crucial to how I further staked out my own course towards the top. I fussed a lot to make it happen, and I have never regretted it for one second – although I hate to ride along with others in a car.
For more than a year, my now 13 year old son has nagged me to have the chance to co-drive for me in my rally car. In the local winter rally Finnskogsvalsen in Sweden, I was able to fulfil Oliver’s desire. Two days of father and son time in our historic Ford Escort MkII was a wonderful experience for both of us!
I was only six years old when I drove a car for the first time on my own. It was not legal of course, but at the end of the 1970s and in the middle of nowhere back home in Spydeberg, they were different times.
Oliver started with karting at an early age and has been driving cars for as long as he can remember. In 2014 he won three titles and nine individual victories in his crosskart. His dream is to become a rally and rallycross driver – and to beat me! One of the secrets to manage that is to see, feel and experience how I’m driving.
Being a co-driver in rally is one of the toughest jobs I can imagine. You need a full overview, manage timing, find rhythm and you must be confident and determined as well as being careful, precise and very concentrated. The co-driver tells me about how the road looks ahead, determines speed, track selection and which focus I should have on every metre of a stage; the co-driver is the driver’s extended vision.
Only the most skilled co-driver is able to lead the best driver into victories at the top level. I have worked with some of the best ones in the world; Phil Mills, Cato Menkerud and Chris Patterson are among them.Oliver had never before read notes in the car. Just four months ago he was old enough to get permission to sit in the rally in accordance with Swedish rules.
I was very excited about how he would solve the role. Result wise it was unimportant, but we were supposed to enjoy ourselves and enjoy the ride together, and then it’s nice to be satisfied with ourselves as well.
A short instruction of mom Pernilla before the start was everything Oliver wanted to prepare. From the crosskart driving he has learned how to focus and concentrate; that skill was important here.
We flew off the start-line on the first stage, and Oliver went aggressively to work with the notes.Shortly after he asked abruptly: “How am I doing Dad? Is it ok?”
Not exactly by the book in full drift on the white winter roads and with the next turn just a few meters away.
“Yes son – it’s awesome… Just read the notes!” I replied.
We finished the stage with a ok time. Oliver was very pleased and proud – and I was equally proud. We had a very nice time together in the car, and I’m quite sure it was a great learning weekend for Oliver as well. The co-operation was getting better for each stage and towards the end of the 130 km long rally on snow and ice, we gained a lot of time against the two leaders. We were quickest in our class at the last stage, and we were only 8 seconds from second place overall.
Our aim for the top three in class and top ten overall in Finnskogsvalsen was reached!
Spending time with your children is the best there is. In an otherwise busy life for both parties it is a memorable experience that provides an extra dimension in the relationship between parents and children. Last summer Oliver and I took a road trip together in Sweden with our motorhome and we both enjoyed the country road and each other’s company to the fullest. We are often out riding ATV, snow mobiles and ice driving, and we spend time fishing and several other out-door activities together.
While I will try to defend my World title in rallycross this year, Oliver will also attempt to defend three titles in crosskarts; the Northern European, Swedish and Norwegian championships.
We will have to enjoy the separate competitions while it lasts. In about 5-6 years we may just as well compete for the same trophies…
Back to rallying. I think you all know that rallying is my first love in motorsport. It’s what I did for so many years and the chance to go back there and compete again is really good for me.
That’s why I’m so excited about the Condroz Rally. I have absolutely loved the intense competition and the atmosphere around the FIA World Rallycross Championship – it’s hard not to enjoy being a world champion again! But the chance to sit on the start line and have a co-driver count me down from five to go is really special.
It’s even more special that the person sitting alongside me is the same Welshman who won the 2003 World Rally Championship with me, Phil Mills. Phil and I started 152 rounds of the World Rally Championship together and won 13 of them. The last time he was calling the notes to me in the world championship was on the Rally of Portugal in 2010.
Phil and I have been through a lot in our time competing in a car. Both joy and drama. For me it’s not only the victories or the dramatic crash in Germany 2004 that comes to mind. All the good talks and joy we had driving around for hours and hours in between stages in different countries around the world is very special to me still. The chance to get back together again in a Citroen C4 WRC is really nice for both of us. We wanted to do something last year, 10 years after we won the title, but there was never time to sort it out. We can say this is a delayed celebration for the two of us.
But what about Belgium and Condroz? I must admit, I don’t know so much about the rally, except that it’s a very, very popular event with fans and competitors. But, having competed in World RX of Belgium earlier this year, I do know about the country and just how much those guys love their motorsport. The atmosphere at the race was incredible and I’m sure it will be the same when we get to the start of the rally.
It will definitely take me a little bit of time to get used to rallying again after driving alone and around in circles for the season. But once Phil and I find our feet again, I’d like to think we’ll be pretty close to the pace. With the focus of PSRX on winning the FIA World Rallycross Championship, there really hasn’t been time to drive rally cars much recently – I have done some shows and things like that in the last couple of years, but not so much. I can’t wait to get back into a rally car.
The main thing is to enjoy myself.
After the rally, the whole team will be focused on World RX of Argentina later in November and next season. We are working flat out to sort everything for 2015, but at the moment there is nothing confirmed.
And you never know, once Phil’s back in the car, he might not want to get out again…