A new chapter in the story of the FIA World Rallycross Championship burst into action this weekend. Welcome to Silverstone and welcome to Speedmachine.
Touching down at the home of British motorsport, World RX changed up a gear with a sensational two day festival celebration of tyre shredding demos, headlining music acts, food stalls, and of course world class wheel-to-wheel racing.
What’s more, reigning FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson extended his lead at the top of the drivers table with a third win from four races, coming away with a clean sweep of 30 championship points in the process.
Just over 27,000 fans witnessed the PSRX Volkswagen duo dominate the weekend’s proceedings, with Petter Solberg leading the overnight standings after day one, and then Johan winning Q3, Q4, the semi-final, and final on day two.
Unfortunately, Petter was denied a shot at joining Johan on the podium, after technical problems with his 600bhp Polo R Supercar, caused by contact with Johan in the semi final, forced his retirement in the final.
“I don’t know what it is about me and Saturdays this season; it looks like I’m becoming much more of a Sunday person. But I don’t mind this – the final is on Sunday!” explained Johan. “Yesterday was quite tricky, it wasn’t the perfect day, but we weren’t far away. We were in the battle. Q3 and Q4 went really well, it was great to be leading into the semis.
“But then things got quite interesting… Even before the start of the semi-final I had a problem with the radio in the car. I couldn’t hear the spotter, we found a way to fix this, but it was a little bit of a stress. And then we got to the first corner, I didn’t make such a good start, I touched with Petter and then I was straight to the barrier. For sure, this was not the plan!
“For the re-started race, everything was OK. I was a bit nervous for the car, but it was working well. There was a little bit of work to do before the final, but I have the best team in the world to do this work – they were fantastic. In the final tried to keep calm and string the fast laps together. I did that and it worked. I did the joker on the final lap and it was perfect. You can imagine, now I’m happy. It was a super-stressful hour, but we took the win and some good points for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden and that’s all that matters.”
Understandably disappointed following the contact in the semi final with Johan, and then being forced to retire in the final, Petter said: “It’s so tough to stop like this in the semi-final. We had a good car for the weekend, we were leading overnight and everything was looking good for the final. What happened with Johan was really one of those things, but it always hurts a little bit more when it’s a collision with one of your team-mates.
“What we can say is that the team has done a fantastic job, the car was so quick here all weekend. Even when the grip was harder to find on Sunday, we still made the Polo work. It’s a shame, it would have been fantastic to keep the run going and to make another final, but it didn’t happen.
“Hey, this was a tough Sunday for us, but still the team is extending its lead. OK, I have dropped back a little bit, but now we move on and we look forward to Norway. I’m going home.”
Running alongside World RX at SpeedMachine was also the opening round of the US-held ARX championship. The new series will comprise of three further events this year hosted at COTA in Austin Texas (July & September), and at Trois-Rivieres alongside the World RX of Canada in August.
Making a much-anticipated return to racing, Liam Doran ended the weekend on the podium; clinching third place just behind first places Tanner Foust and second placed Scott Speed.
“This weekend has been quite emotional to me to be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve driven a car in competition, and even longer since I’ve won anything. So to come here with half a car on the Friday, pull everything together with my team, and end the event on the podium on Sunday means an incredible amount.
“I think this almost means more to me than my first rallycross win when I was young. I have to be honest that even a week before the event I was still on the fence about racing, and when we arrived at Silverstone I didn’t have any expectations in terms of a result. It’s just absolutely fantastic to be back racing, and to finish on the podium with these guys [Foust and Speed] against whom I used to race back in 2013 and 2014, is much more than I could have asked for.”
Next up the championship moves to Hell in Norway for round five on the 9th and 10th of June. In the meantime, hit play below to re-watch the finals, and check out the full results from the World RX of UK, here.