1 week ago
Rarely have I been so nervous before and during a race than when I was going home to Norway to run the FIA World RX round in Hell itself!
I wanted to show my countrymen that I still have what it takes to compete at the top level.
A year had passed since the last time I was in the middle part of Norway. Last year’s European Championship round was held at the same place, but ended with a downer «de luxe» and 13th place. In fact, I lacked only a few seconds to drive semifinal at the time, something which I have thought a lot about afterwards.
Things could have been done differently in Hell last year, and I intended to rectify this immediately.
After the last World RX round at Lydden Hill, we came together in the team to put up a new strategy for the Norwegian round. By facilitating the smoothness of driving and avoid taking unnecessary risks, the chance of a top result would increase significantly.
Everyone in the PSRX team knows what it’s all about in 2014; the title race in the FIA World RX Championships. The plan before the race was to run for just that, and that a single round victory could be sacrificed to collect as many points possible without taking big risks.
I implemented the plan to the fullest. In the first heat I had a terrible start and remained behind Jacques Villeneuve. I kept the location behind the Formula 1 legend and got me an honourable time.
I could fully blame myself afterwards; the start was miserable, but we gained more chances this time.
Following two more heats, I came in a position to contend for a heat win. I was fighting for a place in the front row for the semi-finals, but had some misfortune. I cheered wildly when the TV graphics in our service area first showed that I had done it, but soon afterwards it became clear that I was missing two points.
Nevertheless, I got a fantastic race in the semifinals, a new heat victory and the second starting position in the finals too.
Since it rained a little during the finals, I kept the strategy from the start not to take any risks, and I chose a medium wet setup on the car for the final. In the end I lost some small tenths to Reinis Nitiss on each of the six rounds, and the Latvian got his first Supercar victory.
I am very impressed by Nitiss; a huge rallycross talent and both a pleasant and humble person as well. The 18-year-old, who got his driving licenses only a few months ago, will guaranteed be a hard nut to crack in the fight for the world title. I must continue to be smart to hold a position in the top of the World RX overall fight.
My only chance of victory in the RX of Norway final would have been going on in a duel with Nitiss on the way out of the joker lap, but I followed the strategy of my team and stayed neatly behind him. The risk would have been huge to ruin both my own and Nitiss’ race if I was to push forward. I don’t think such execution is fair play.
Second place felt like a victory. I had a lot of pressure on myself before the World RX round at home ground. It was my most important single race of the season, pure and simple. To redeem a position on the podium, I consider that a triumph.
I am rarely satisfied with anything other than wins, but right now I believe that enough 2nd places will also give gold overall. I am not willing to risk a position on the podium by taking unnecessary risks.
But when the victory chances presents themselves, and it will, I will seize the opportunity with both hands and feet.
13,000 people had paid admission to see the World RX rallycross in Hell. It is an obvious new record! The support I received from my own countrymen meant a tremendous amount, and it made a huge contribution to me going back from Norway with a sense of victory.
The circuit in Hell is very cool, and the organizers had made a great effort to make very successful event. Thanks to all of you who contributed to the party!
We are quite busy in my workshop these days. The next World RX round takes place in Finland in one and a half week. By the time we travel to Kouvola in the middle of next week, we get a logistic challenge out of the ordinary. We will pack for three races in a row, and containers are to be shipped to Canada in the process.
The next three World RX rounds will determine much of the world title fight.
About three and a half weeks from now, we will know the answer to who is still in the game and who’s not.
“Hjem” is the Norwegian word for home. We Norwegians simply love our country and are proud of our deep fjords, towering mountains, and intimate cities - not to mention of our flag. Less than a week is left until I go “hjem” to fight for my first World RX victory on home soil.
I am more than ready for Norway!
The inaugural Norwegian FIA World Rallycross Championship round is held in Hell itself! That’s something that we Norwegians don’t react to at all; for English-speaking people is quite another story.
This tiny town is for sure called Hell, but believe me when I say that it is more a heaven on earth in my sight. In Hell lies one of the World RX circus’ coolest and funniest tracks, and my home track fits me like a glove!
The small town is just 30 kilometers outside one of the largest Norwegian cities, Trondheim. It’s just a few minutes drive away from Trondheim Airport. In the midst of this “Hell” is my “Mecca” – Lånkebanen.
Only twice in my earlier rally career, I travelled ”hjem” to run the WRC. In 2007 I was fourth, and in 2009 sixth when Rally Norway twice was part of the WRC. Subsequently, the Swedish Rally has been on short visits into Norway, but it’s not quite the same.
Next weekend it happens again! I tremble with expectations before the first ever Norwegian World RX Championship round. Nothing would delight me more if the whole region and all of the Norwegian motorsports community will form a circle around such a possibility. I need all backing possible on my road to success on home ground!
Lånkebanen is spectacular, and it’s one of my favourites in World RX. The terrain, difficult turns, high speed and the jump over the finish line are ingredients I cannot get enough of.
When I won the first ever World RX Championship round in Portugal a month ago, it was an indescribable feeling – not unlike the one I got in the WRC rally in November 2002. Yet it was the refund of all the work behind that gave the best feeling for both myself as the rest of PSRX team.
Success at home in Hell will surpass the Portugal triumph.
Home is home anyway – so I think it is for all athletes.
I travel to the World RX round #3 with great expectations and hopes. So far this season my car has proven to be both strong and reliable. My team works very well, and all are pulling in the same direction heading towards the big goal of the year.
After the World RX round in England last month, we’ve been in control of the amount of work on the team cars. I have had plenty of time to prepare my head for the RX of Norway.
The way I do it is to go on the run!
Being a mechanic for my son Oliver in crosskart races in Norway and Sweden is exactly what I need to collect profits. I sleep well, enjoying life with family and friends and watching the next generation of motorsport athletes.
Is there anything better?
Hardly for me!
This weekend we were in Arboga, Sweden where Oliver drove the Swedish Crosskart Championship. It was brilliant until the final, where Oliver first rolled, then he had an engine breakdown at restart.
What can you do other than try again next time?
Now I’m ready to race in Hell!
11 years have passed since I drove to my first WRC victory. The experiences from that triumph have burned into my memory. In the first ever FIA World RX race, I got a close encounter with the same feelings again.
The thoughts of all the work we have put into this project and all of those people who have helped along the way to make it possible, make it a relief that I performed under pressure and met the high expectations.
The mental and physical emotions when I finally – after a long, long time – again stood on the top step of the podium where phenomenal.
Nine years had passed since the last time I was there…
There were some tears of joy for both for Pernilla , myself and others in our PSRX Team. Strong emotions came to the surface after all the work that is laid down. We have pushed a lot of limits on our way to this success.
The two victories that are 11 and a half years apart are strong memories to take forward in life. But I will never rest on this victory from Portugal. I’m hungry for more and will work even smarter in the future to achieve the really big goal of mine.
The new focus on rallycross is the second part of my career. The first part gave a lot of success and fun in the WRC. Now it’s all about rallycross, and the first milestone was a World RX win.
Now that is completed.
I am incredibly proud to be the first ever World RX winner!
We built up last year’s team and the car in record time last winter. When we met up at the legendary Lydden Hill on March 29 for the first Euro RX round, we stood there without experience, without knowledge, and neither team trailer or a competitive RX car. Looking back at it all, we should never have gone there, nor the next two or three races.
But without all the experience from last year, both negative and positive, I’d never been standing here as the first World RX event winner ever.
Rallycross is a completely different sport than rallying. 3 or 4 high-intensity minutes in the car on the track and with 600 horsepower right in front of the driver is something completely new. The level of drivers in this sport is sky high.
The development of vehicles and equipment is going forward in record time and the interest in the championship is running wild. Therefore my life will carry on straight back into everyday life. My mechanics remained an extra day in Portugal to prepare the cars of both Alexander Hvaal and myself after the race. When vehicles and equipment return to Torsby towards the end of the week, we’ll work just as hard for the next race.
Although there was success and victory for one of the team’s cars if the first race, there remains a great deal of work on both of them before we go on to Lydden Hill for the next World RX round in two weeks. This is probably the situation in all other teams too. All teams, cars and drivers will be better prepared, and so should we.
The PSRX Team made a very good start to the season with overall victory, four heat wins, improving the track record three times and currently we’re third in the team championship.
Now our journey continues towards the big goal; the World RX Championship title.
The first ever FIA World Rallycross Championship will be nothing but a treat! My new design of the PSRX cars and team is a tribute to my loyal sponsors and to the amazing accomplishment by IMG of turning this sport into a World event in record time.
Only 17 days remain until the first ever World RX blasts off in Portugal. It’s my pleasure to reveal for you how the 2014 PSRX Team will appear in the World RX debut year. This is the first ever picture of my new car. We will show off the car for the first time at the World RX Launch in Italy next week!
I’ve always been a fan of bright colours and clear lines. I made this design for both my team and our sponsors to be seen and easily recognized.
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Just scout for my”11” arrow around the track and on LIVE TV at all 12 rounds of the World RX this year!
The PSRX Team has been through a very tough and hard working period. At most we went Flat Out for more than 40 hours straight – with minimal rest both before and after. I am forever thankful to my crew for their accomplishments!
I believe that we are well prepared at this time. We still have some crucial testing of both Alex Hvaal’s car (PSE01 2013) and my car (PSE02 2014) left. So far, we are very confident that we are on the right track. I have some big expectations both for my team mate Alex and myself this season.
In front of us lies 12 tough World RX rounds, where we will be in competition with some of the worlds best drivers. It’s going to be tighter, tougher and more difficult than ever to reach the top of the podium.
The big question is who will be the first World RX Champion in November. The only thing I’m sure about is that several extremely talented and experienced drivers will try to grab the opportunity. Both Alex and I are amongst them!
For each day that goes by I’m getting more excited to get to the start. I’ll be a very happy and excited man when we turn up to the blistering start in Portugal! Highlights are lined up towards the summer. The one I am looking forward to the most is my home event (both World RX and Euro RX) in Hell, Norway 14-15 June.
PS. Please remember to download my new and FREE PetterS RX App to follow all the RX action on your phone and/or tablet!
That’s what’s left until the first ever World RX Championship starts. We have only got half of that time to complete our two cars and start both engines for the first time, in order to do some crucial testing in the beginning of April.
But do not despair – we’re on track and in very good spirits. Only last week we received our first engine to the workshop in Torsby, Sweden. It was brought here only to be fitted into the car, then it was packed down and shipped back to France in a hurry for even more development at Pipo Moteurs.
The French engine manufacturer is my supplier this season – which I am extremely proud of. In my opinion Pipo Moteurs is the best of the best in the motorsport business, and I can tell from the details of their work that this is top notch material.
I am truly sorry that I can’t provide you with many details about the engine. In this business we need to keep secrets in our development work – and that goes especially for our new engine.
Pipo Moteurs have been in the business for a long time, and the last 12 years they have been extremely successful in the WRC: 200 podium cars, 50 victories, 2 World Driver’s Championships, 5 Manufacturers Titles…
The success started with Marcus Grönholm’s Peugeot (206 / 307) and continued with Ford Focus and Fiesta. Ken Block is the only other RX driver with Pipo Moteurs engine under the hood.
For each day and hour that goes by, it’s getting evermore tense in the PSRX Team. We are all extremely excited about what we’re up against this season. Almost daily the news comes rollin’ in about new competitors in the World RX; Jacques Villeneuve, Tanner Foust, Ken Block are amongst them.
I am still convinced that the World RX Championship is the right place to be and that the right time is now.
It’ll be awesome fighting for the first ever World RX Title!
In the last few months I’ve been preparing myself for the showdown. It’s impossible to predict what will happen, who will be winners and who will not. I am doing all that I’m capable of to make sure that the PSRX Team with Alexander Hvaal and myself will be at the front of the field.
The technology world has come far further in rallying than in rallycross, something I am trying to take maximum advantage of. The layout of the car, weight distribution, attention to detail, handling, professionalism, reliability and of course the engine are key concepts that we work on tirelessly.
At the moment there are two carbon covered cars on axel stands in my workshop. The 2013 edition of the Citroën DS3 Supercar will be driven by the youngster Hvaal. A brand new 2014 version is being developed and built for me on the basis of last season’s many experiences.
A dedicated team of 15 PSRX crew members is working all day and many nights to find the winning formula for us.
The story is just beginning.
I was only one year old when my Ford Escort Mk2 was produced. Almost 40 years later, I drove it to a back-to-back victory on the Historic Rally Sweden, with my wife Pernilla at my side in the co-driver seat.
We had a fantastic journey through the Swedish woods in the car build by my old co-driver, Phil Mills. I have a great passion for cars, in my personal collection I have more than 30 of them stored in my museum in Torsby, Sweden.
The build-up to the rally was a memorable one for sure. The service park with all my former WRC colleagues was located just 60 k’s from my workshop, and several of the Rally Sweden stages go right through our neighbourhood. The local supermarket ICA Toria in Torsby asked if they could have my 2010 WRC bronze winning Citroen C4 on display in the store, and I also decided to celebrate the anniversary of Phil and myself by bringing the actual Subaru Impreza WRC S8 that we won our first world rally (Wales 2002) to the service park on display.
Our Mk2 arrived from Wales on Wednesday, and we brought it straight to Karlstad for the opening show without any testing!
In Karlstad we hooked up with former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist and his Audi Quattro to do a show in our historic cars. Stig’s 4WD took the advantage in the short sprint. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of the company of Swedish Prince, Carl Philip in my car. Stig brought the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt onto the track. I had a really nice chat with the Prince, who actually is a race car driver himself.
I was very excited and a little bit nervous about the cars performance before last year’s event. It was just the same this year. With competition from some quick Audi Quattro’s, Porsche 911’s, Volvo 240’s and other Mk2’s, I really didn’t know if it would be possible to defend the win. Both Pernilla and I felt nervous before the rally.
After the first stage I was already terrified by our result; The board showed 22nd ’best’ time, 1 min 40 behind the fastest car! But Pernilla’s official time card told us that it was wrong – and a couple of phone calls to the Rally HQ solved the mystery. We were almost half a minute ahead after day 1. On day 2 a couple of competitors slowly closed the gap, but Pernilla and I gave it our very best at the last two stages and secured the victory by just over 40 seconds.
Just after the prize giving ceremony, we went straight back to Torsby where we met up with cycling legend, Sir Chris Hoy. I gave the multiple Olympic champion a guided tour in my workshop, and I’m pretty sure that he enjoyed it. Chris actually is quite a race driver himself from what I’ve heard! I admit that I love rallying with all my heart, and maybe one day I will return to that fantastic sport. But for this season I’m 100 percent focused on my rallycross career – no questions asked!
Our RX season schedule is packed, so I’ll only have time to do a couple of races on the side. Right now I’m thinking of doing one more rally – but we’re not sure where, when or with what car. I’ll tell you when we have decided! It’s for sure not gonna be in the Mk2, that treasure will only go Flat Out once a year!
A good start to the year is important. When I sent a trailer, two rally cars, four team members, my nephew Oscar and myself 750 k’s north from Torsby to Umeaa last weekend, my goal was to start 2014 with an unusually good experience.
While my former colleagues and competitors started the world rally season in Monte-Carlo, I was heading to a different venue to nurture my own right foot.
My former team mate at Ford in 1999, Thomas Rådström, contacted me before Christmas and invited me to the ‘SM Veckan’ in Umeå. The thought of competing at the event captivated me immediately. What wonderful winter adventure the Swedes and Swedish Television (SVT) have created!
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There is a Swedish Championship that has been organized as a mini Olympic Games, mostly shown in prime time on SVT’s main channel. It is made up of numerous sports together on the same platform. And smack in the middle; a rally sprint with 44 Swedes and one Norwegian on the starting list – it´s just brilliant!
Rådström himself was the architect of a technical and very difficult sprint stage. It is around 6 k´s in length and would be run over two initial qualifiers and a final.
But once my former team mate had lured me off the hook, he just couldn´t sit back and watch from the sidelines. Rådström decided to hire my other rally car to aim for the Swedish Rally Title – seven years after he last sat in a rally car.
It was a wonderful setting for the event. A spectacular rally sprint live on TV, and the crowd just couldn´t get enough.
It was successful in all respects.
For my co-driver and nephew Oscar (Hennings 16 year old son) and me, we received the 2014 season’s first victory. Oscar had never written or read pacenotes before – and I’m very proud of how he handled the situation. The job was actually intended for my son Oliver (12 years old), but he had school work that needed to be prioritized.
Thomas Rådström took second place, making it a PSRX 1-2! As he was the best Swedish driver, he became Swedish Champion with next year’s SM Veckan Manager, Maria Andersson, as his co-driver.
It was amazing to be part of the winter wonderland in Umeaa! It was great for Swedish motorsport because they got to expose themselves in a wonderful way in SM Veckan, and also for all of the sports fans of Sweden, who received the amazing TV production right at home in their living rooms.
A win at first attempt in a WRC car is something to learn from for Oscar Solberg. My nephew already has great talent behind the wheel. I remember back to my rookie days in WRC when I learned a lot through the rides I had with Colin McRae and Tommi Mäkinen.
I hope that Oscar knows how to use this experience to make him take new steps as a motorsport athlete.
Now I look forward to new challenges in the Historic Rally Sweden in about two weeks time. This year, like last year, my wife Pernilla will be my co-driver. Our task is challenging enough to defend the victory from last year.
I´m not confident if my Ford will hold up against some of the Audi´s and amongst others Stig Blomqvist and Per Engseth on the start line.
My Ford Escort Mk2 is built and was recently overhauled by Phil Mills himself.
I expect a lot of entertainment and fun!
TORSBY: Young Rallycross sensation Alexander Hvaal has fulfilled his childhood dream. The 21-year-old will become a partner and apprentice under Petter Solberg (39) in the first ever all-Norwegian World Rallycross Team in 2014.
The Norwegian dream duo will join forces to focus on “the double” in the inaugural RX World Championship. The team will be aiming for both the World Champion drivers title and the team title for 2014 . Youngster Hvaal will be the driver of a second car in the Petter Solberg World Rallycross Team.
- After the test Alexander did with my team in mid-October, he was a very clear first choice when we decided to expand to a two-car-team for next year. He really impressed me , says Petter Solberg.
Promising young hot-shot Hvaal was victorious in last season’s final two rounds of the European Championship and undoubtedly earned his breakthrough at the highest level. With the European Championship evolving and increasing its status in to a World Championship next year, all races will be shown live on TV. Hvaal has certainly chosen a strong path for his career and is set to continue his success.
- If you want to become the best driver, you have to bet big and learn from the best driver there is. I will get my chance now with Petter Solberg. 2014 will be a crucial year for my future career . I am very privileged to have the opportunity to take an important role in the world’s best and most professional rallycross team, says Alexander Hvaal.
Under his wings
It is the first time in Solberg’s long and successful motorsport career that the 2003 World Rally Champion will take a talented driver directly under his wings. Solberg developed his skill to become a top flight rally driver through legends in the name of Colin McRae and Tommi Mäkinen.
- There is undoubtedly a lot of talent in Alexander. In addition , he is a likeable and humble person. If he acquires knowledge along with being given time to develop as a rallycross driver, he will have a very successful future ahead , says Petter Solberg, on his 2014 team mate.
The 21-year-old Hvaal will pilot Solberg’s 2013 RX car on his assault on the upcoming World RX Championship season . The former World Rally Champion will build a new car for himself before the season opener in May.
Solberg will develop and make improvements to both Citroen machines through the winter to resolve the engine issue’s that plagued him for much of the previous season.
- A new engine supplier ensures that I feel totally confident that it will be resolved. We will use our time well until the season starts to develop further the world’s best rallycross team. With Alexander Hvaal in our team, an important card came into place towards that goal, says Petter Solberg.
The inaugural World RX Championship season will begin in Portugal 3 May and will come to an end after the twelfth and final round in Argentina, 23 November next year.