600bhp, 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds, Volkswagen Polo R. Spot the odd one out.
If you chose any of the above in the context of the FIA World Rallycross Championship you’d be wrong. Very wrong. Because Rallycross is, and always has been, a sport of total extremes, and there is no better example of this than the machinery on track. With two Drivers’ titles and two Teams’ FIA World Championships to its racing CV, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden’s Polo R Supercar is arguably the most successful race car of the modern Rallycross era.
On the 14th October, at the Estering circuit just outside Hamburg, 29 year old Swedish driver Johan Kristoffersson took the chequered flag in the final race of the 2018 World RX of Germany. He won; continuing a remarkable set of results which includes his 8th consecutive World RX victory, and 10th win of the season.
What’s more, the result also meant that the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Team, for which Johan and his team mate - three time FIA World Champion - Petter Solberg, have been driving for since it’s inception at the beginning of 2017, had now clinched their second successive Teams’ title.
Combine that with the two FIA World Rallycross Drivers titles which Johan has secured throughout the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and that makes four FIA World titles in two years. All this achieved against a staunch line up of factory-backed opponents - such as Ford, Audi, Peugeot - and an equally unrelenting pack of well funded and experienced independent teams.
So, aside from Johan and Petter’s prodigious talents in the cockpit, what makes the car so successful? "There’s always a lot of work behind the scenes to create a winning car. First the Polo was created to compete in the WRC, and then it was adapted to race in Rallycross. But with that work, keeping the highest level of consistency is absolutely key,” explains Johan Kristoffersson.
“Our team from PSRX and Volkswagen have done such a perfect job at keeping the car in mint condition throughout the season. Every time I jump into the car it feels the same. Every single millimetre is crucial when the races are so short and intense. The feel of the pedals - how the clutch is shimmed so you have the half a millimetre between the biting point and disengaging it for example, the tiny slack in the handbrake, the position of my seatbelts, the adjustment of the gear lever and steering wheel. Everything is matched to me, and more importantly, it is the same every time.
“You jump in and you feel at home. It all adds up so that you can push to the limit from the very first corner. To put this another way, during all the free practice sessions in Germany, my quickest lap was my very first lap of the weekend. And I haven’t been at the Estering for a year. That’s the kind of confidence which is inspired by the accuracy of engineers; which ultimately leads to success. The results are a huge credit to the guys that build the car.”