Saturday 29 December 2018

Johan Kristoffersson claims Romjulsrally victory by over a minute.

PHOTO CREDIT: Kristoffersson Motorsport
Double FIA World Rallycross and STCC Champion Johan Kristoffersson has claimed victory at the Romjulsrally in Norway. 

The Swede and co-driver Stig Rune Skjaermoen claimed victory by 1 minute and 11 seconds from the second place driver Frank Tore Larsen in a Ford Fiesta R5.

"Really good, considering the expectations I had on myself," Kristoffersson said while describing his first rally outing in the new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

Kristoffersson Motorsport recently announced their intention to compete in the WRC2 series in 2019, under the banner: Volkswagen Dealer Team BAUHAUS. Johan tested his new Polo GTI R5 recently, but the Romjulsrally is the first official race entry for the new rallycar.

"I am very happy with the car, considering how little time we have had to test our set-up, but of course Volkswagen Motorsport has done a good job in the basics, so we do not have to invent the wheel," said Kristoffersson.

It was almost a year since Johan competed in the Romjulsrally, but there are challenges competing in a brand new car. Despite these challenges Johan and Skjaermoen claimed the fastest times in all six stages of the rally.

"Actually, it was just the first stretch that didn't fit that well. Then it somethings went well or pretty okay. I am most satisfied with the third section, only three kilometers log, but still we were six seconds ahead,” says Johan.

The Swede is confident with the performance of his Polo GTI R5 and the team.

"We have laid a good foundation for the continuation. That we won was a nice bonus," he said.

Johan Kristoffersson comes from a circuit racing background, but he feels that there is still room for improvement.

"I am way too untrained to say if I went with or without margin, but completely on the border it did not go," said Kristoffersson.

The Swede has given a positive assessment of his new co-driver Stig Rune Skjaermoen, but he has outlined a few challenges that he needs to work on to improve.

"Very good. There is more about me to learn how to hear what he says and understand how it should be done in practice," said Kristoffersson.

"I have prepared myself as well as I can, but everything cannot be done in advance. You have to drive more car simply," he concludes

The next challenge for the Swede will be Finnskogsvalsen in northern Värmland on the 12th of January 2019.

The Official Results from the 2018 Romjulsrally

Sunday 23 December 2018

Johan Kristoffersson tests his new Polo R5 ahead of Rally Sweden in 2019

PHOTO CREDIT: Kristoffersson Motorsport
Johan Kristoffersson has been testing in Norway ahead of Volkswagen Dealer Team Bauhaus' entry into the WRC2 class at Rally Sweden in 2019. 

The Swede has been behind the wheel of his new Volkswagen Polo R5 in an intensive two-day programme in winter conditions.

"We have been testing different tires, driving on good winter surfaces, and also with different character on the road," said Tommy Kristoffersson Team Manager. 

The test in Geilo, Norway was Johan Kristoffersson, and the team's first chance to get to know the new Polo R5.

"Very fun! I have got a good and stable impression of the car and already enjoy it," said Johan Kristoffersson

Although, the Swede comes from a circuit racing background, learning about his new car will be vital. 

Every minute in the car will be valuable if the Swede wants to be competitive in the rally discipline. 

A recent Instagram post from Kristoffersson during testing in Norway.
"When I run rallycross and racing, there is a lot of autopilot. Here I am extremely focused and think actively about many things," says Kristoffersson. "It is evident at the end of the day that I get tired."

Tommy Kristoffersson, KMS team manager is happy with the two-day test programme that his team has completed: "We had high expectations for these days and the outcome has exceeded all our hopes."

Johan will take part in the Christmas Rally in Elverum on January 29, 2019.

There Kristoffersson will be will be guided by his new co-driver, Stig Rune Skjaermoen

Stig Rune Skjaermoen started reading maps in 2001 at the age of 14. And, he has over 20 World Championship rally entries under his belt.

"It has worked very well. He has a lot of experience and has traveled to many World Championship competitions, so it will be a good solution for me,” says Johan Kristoffersson speaking about his new co-driver.

Skjaermoen has been working with Johan at the two-day test in Norway.

"It's not anyone you sit next to. It can be seen that he is one who can really drive a car," says Skjaermoen.

"It is the notes that are most important, to be able to do them in a good way and to be able to understand. But I already notice that Johan is very good at familiarizing himself with the things he should do," he concludes.

Friday 21 December 2018

Timo Scheider secures full-time drive for 2019 World RX championship

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media
Two-time DTM Champion Timo Scheider to compete in the full 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship with Münnich Motorsport.

Scheider competed in a handful of World RX events with Münnich Motorsport during the 2018 season, but he will now lead the team, as it progresses to a full ten-round World RX campaign in 2019. 

Timo will be driving a newly built Seat Ibiza Supercar in 2019.

“It’s no secret that I was bitten by the rallycross bug a long time ago," said Scheider. "Consequently, I am more than happy to be entering my first full season as a member of Rene’s strong squad."

"We have slightly restructured the team and are preparing for the new challenges with the utmost diligence and ambition. I am very pleased to be taking my involvement in the rallycross scene to the next level." 

The Austrian driver made his World RX debut with Rene Münnich's team in 2015 prior to his first full season in 2017, where he collected a podium en route to a top ten finish in the overall standings.

"For me too, this very special discipline is the perfect arena for tough, spectacular motorsport – and that goes for the fans and drivers in equal measure. I cannot wait for the start of the season in April,” he said. 

Rene Münnich will continue to compete in the World RX championship, but only selected rounds. 

“Despite the withdrawal of some manufacturers, I firmly believe in the future of the World Rallycross Championship, because for private teams it provides a massive opportunity to showcase themselves on a global and professional platform with a huge following," said Rene Münnich, Münnich Motorsport team manager and driver. 

"I am delighted that Timo Scheider will be contesting his first full season in parallel with his commitments as a BMW works driver," he adds. "He has quickly adapted to the demands of rallycross and demonstrated his enormous potential on multiple occasions."

"I feel confident that we have a very good overall package and that we will be genuine contenders for top positions.”

Thursday 20 December 2018

World RX champion Kristoffersson to compete in the WTCR championship

PHOTO CREDIT: Kristoffersson Motorsport

Two-time World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson will switch courses, and in 2019 he compete in the WTCR championship with the Sébastien Loeb Racing team

PSRX Volkswagen Sweden recently withdrew from the World RX championship for the 2019 season leaving the Swede without a seat for 2019.

The Sébastien Loeb Racing team have expanded to a four team for the 2019 season with four Golf GTI TCRs. In addition to Kristoffersson joining the team, Rob Huff and Mehdi Bennani will remain in the team for the 2019 campaign. 

It will be the first time that Kristoffersson competes in the FIA ​​World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), but he has good merits with Volkswagen cars. Kristoffersson claimed the 2018 Scandinavian championship (STCC) in a Golf GTI TCR.

"WTCR is an excellent platform for Golf GTI to showcase its sporty features to fans around the world," said Sven Smeets, CEO of Volkswagen Motorsport. "In addition, the championship is tough, and it's enough for Volkswagen to increase its commitment. Together with our rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson we get a very strong show."

Kristoffersson beat several new records in the 2018 FIA World RX championship. Eleven wins from twelve rounds, of which nine in a row. Now the Swede switches to the WTCR championship.

"I look very much at WTCR. After four years of rallycross, it will be my first racing season at international level since 2013," said Kristoffersson. "Most of the races are completely new to me and are therefore a big challenge."

"I'm also looking forward to working with my new team companions, especially touring car world champion Rob Huff."

"In addition, Sébastien Loeb Racing is an experienced team and I am pleased to continue within the Volkswagen family."

Johan Kristoffersson and Kristoffersson Motorsport will compete in rallying with a Polo GTI R5 in 2019.

Friday 14 December 2018

PSRX Volkswagen Sweden to take sabbatical from World RX due to lack of competition.

PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien
PSRX Volkswagen Sweden to take sabbatical from the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

The Torsby-based team under the guidance of team principal Pernilla Solberg, Johan Kristoffersson and Petter Solberg have won 19 from 24 FIA World Rallycross races since the start of the 2017 season.

The FIA World Rallycross Championship had a different outlook two months ago, then came news of Peugeot and Audi's departure from the championship. Olsberg MSE also announced that they will take sabbatical from the series in 2019 to focus on a future re-entry.

PSRX Volkswagen have cited a loss of competitors as the main reason to sit out of the 2019 FIA World RX championship

“It’s really sad, but the declining numbers of teams in the series makes it impossible for us to remain for 2019," said Team Manager, Pernilla Solberg

Petter Solberg joined the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2014 and became the first ever series champion. The Norwegian returned in 2015, and successfully defended his title to become a two-time World RX champion. 

In 2017, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden was formed, and Solberg was joined by Johan Kristoffersson. The pair claimed eight wins and five podiums that season. Kristoffersson was crowned champion in 2017. 2018 would be no different, as the Swede successfully defended his championship claiming 11 wins from 12 rounds, while Solberg struggled with health issues but achieved three podium finishes. 

“You wouldn’t believe how much pride I have in what this team has achieved," says Pernilla Solberg. "It’s incredible to think where we were two years ago and what we have done, and what we have won, in that time with a team we created in just weeks and days," 

Solberg's team powered to success with two Volkswagen Polo Supercars

“In the past two years the competition in WRX between the cars from Audi, Ford, Peugeot and Volkswagen has been huge, resulting in fantastic sport with close racing between some of the most famous drivers in motorsport," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director, Sven Smeets.

“Unfortunately, with the exit of three works or works-supported teams from World RX, the situation has changed dramatically. Together with PSRX and Volkswagen Sweden, we had to re-evaluate the involvement in the championship," he adds. "We certainly didn’t take the decision lightly, but we came to a mutual agreement not to continue in WRX in 2019 as there is huge uncertainty regarding the entries and the competition for next season." 

Volkswagen are one of the manufacturers that have been interested in signing up to the championships switch to electric in 2021 and will keep an eye on developments.

The 2018 FIA World RX Champions - PSRX Volkswagen.
PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien
“Naturally, Volkswagen Motorsport will keep a close eye on any developments towards the electrification of the sport of rallycross," says Smeets. "From the beginning we have been supporters of this initiative and we continue to be interested.”

Two-time and defending World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson will not have a seat for the 2019 campaign. However, Kristoffersson Motorsport has recently announced the acquisition of a new Polo GTI R5 rally car, as the team focuses on establishing a Rally Sweden WRC2 class. 

“I have absolutely loved every minute of my two years with this incredible team," said Kristoffersson. "I can’t believe the time has gone so quickly, but it has also gone with more success than we could have imagined or hoped for!"

“Obviously, I’m really sad not to be competing in my fantastic Polo R Supercar next season, but I completely understand the reasons why this decision has come," he adds. "If we don’t have enough people to race, what can we do?”

Triple FIA world champion Petter Solberg has stated that this is not the end for him and his team in World RX, and that he will continue to compete with Volkswagen in 2019. 

“We can all see the potential here, but it’s just not sensible to continue for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden in 2019," said Solberg“The important thing to understand here is that this is a pause – a pause and not an end." 

"As a team, we continue and we work together. We can’t say much about this now, but there will be more to talk about in the New Year."

The Norwegian still believes in the World RX Championship and its potential, but remains mum on his plans for the 2019 season. Although, he has competed in the WRC2 class earlier this year in Spain.

“I still believe in World RX. I still believe this championship can deliver the most sustainable, relevant, entertaining and competitive racing anywhere in the world," he adds.

“We work on the future and we look forward to sharing those exciting plans with you early in 2019 – and those plans include me being behind the wheel of a Volkswagen.”

Thursday 13 December 2018

Bakkerud: "It was hard to believe how late you can brake with the DTM cars."

FIA World RX driver and race winner Andreas Bakkerud was given the opportunity participate in the Audi DTM rookies test in Jerez, Spain earlier this week. 

Bakkerud, one of six drivers had the opportunity to test the 2018 Audi RS 5 DTM.

For the test, Audi Sport Team Rosberg’s DTM squad and Audi DTM customer team WRT each fielded one of Audi’s DTM touring cars with V8 naturally aspirated engines.

Jamie Green and Rene Rast provided the drivers with valuable pointers and feedback. Green was active as a reference driver for Audi Sport.

Bakkerud completed 59 laps in total on the 4.428km MotoGP circuit [261.252km's]

The Norwegian was left without a race seat for the 2019 season when EKS withdrew from the World RX Championship after loosing Audi factory support.

“For me as a rallycross driver, a completely new chapter," says Bakkerud. 

In preparation for the DTM rookie test, Andreas took to the simulator to gain some experience before heading out on track for the first time in a DTM car. 

"Last week I was able to prepare a little for the test in the simulator at Team Rosberg," he adds. "Obviously, then driving the RS 5 DTM here on the race track was even quite a bit more impressive. It was hard to believe how late you can brake with the DTM cars." 

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Slipstream SA chats to double World RX Champion Johan Kristoffersson.

The 2018 FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson celebrating his 11th win from 12 rounds
PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien
Two-time FIA World Rallycross Champion and record-breaker Johan Kristoffersson talks to Slipstream SA.

Incredible, mind blowing, masterful, superb, outstanding are a few words I'd use to describe Johan Kristoffersson

But, why do I use these words? Well to explain the use of these descriptive words lets take a look at his racing career.

The Swede started his racing career in 2008, and since then he has enjoyed a lot success in circuit racing with title wins in the International Superstars Series, Scandinavian Touring Car Championship (STCC) and the Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia. And, guess what he achieved these three titles in a single season (in 2012).

Kristoffersson made his Rallycross debut in 2013, in the FIA European Rallycross Championship. In 2014, the Swede made the full-time switch to the FIA World Rallycross Championship and claimed a 15th overall finish in his debut season.

In 2015 with Volkswagen Team Sweden, he won the World RX season opener in Portugal and claimed four more podiums [2 second places and 2 third place finishes] that season. He went on to claim third in the overall drivers standings that year. 

Success continued for the Swede in 2016 claiming a win in France and two podium finishes. With nine appearances in the finals, Kristoffersson clinched the runners-up spot behind Mattias Ekstrom (the 2016 Word RX champion). 

In 2017, Johan Kristoffersson teamed up with Petter Solberg in the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team, with two Volkswagen Polo Supercars.

One would never begin to imagine the success that awaited Kristoffersson in 2017. The Swede reached 11 of 12 finals and swept to a record-breaking seven victories in the season – including five-in-a-row, and he went on to claim the 2017 drivers’ title.

For 2018, Kristoffersson remained at PSRX Volkswagen Sweden with Volkswagen Motorsport factory support. 

Could the Swede defend his 2017 World RX title, with rivals Team Peugeot Total and EKS Audi Sport hot on his heels? 

At the season opener in Barcelona, Mattias Ekstrom [EKS Audi Sport] claimed victory in the season opener, but was later disqualified. Kristoffersson was handed the win. He then claimed victory in Portugal, but his winning streak was halted when Sebastien Loeb claimed victory in Belgium (round 3). 

With Loeb winning in Belgium... Would Kristoffersson claim another victory in 2018? The answer is rather simple: YES... he claimed nine-in-a-row and equaled Sebastian Vettel's Formula 1 record. 

The Swede was also competing in the 2018 Scandinavian Touring Car Championship (STCC) and clinched the title at the season finale. A few weeks later he successfully defended his 2017 World RX drivers' title. 

- 53 Events
- 310 Races
- 21 Event Wins
- 31 Podiums
- 57 Qualifying Heat Wins
- 42 Finals
- 116Total Points

Kristoffersson leading Qualifying 3.
PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien.
While the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team were waiting for their delayed freight to arrive in Cape Town. The team granted the opportunity to interview the double FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson

Junaid Samodien
What makes you, Johan Kristoffersson tick as a driver? What motivates you to be in this sport and motorsport in general? 

Johan Kristoffersson
First of all, I really like... I mean not only motorsport because I like sport in general. Not like i'm looking into sport. I'm not like a sport freak watching all the sport. I have been in cross country skiing before. 

I mostly like the competitive side of it, so really like to compete and I also enjoy to compete since I was really young. So, that's what I admire the most. The competition itself. And, then I mean Rallycross is a sport and its a fantastic sport. Action packed, really short and nice heats. So, that is what I really like with Rallycross. 

JS: What motivated you to become a racing driver? Would you say its your father? Or were there other influences?

JK: No, but I think he [Tommy Kristoffersson] was one the biggest, because I mean I was basically raised in the service area when he was racing. So, yeah for sure he was a big inspiration for me to start in motorsport because I was always interested in motorsport. I did some Motorcross when I was young and so-on. So, I have always been interested. 

JS: Autosport Magazine recently published an article suggesting that Rallycross is changing with more circuit racers finding there feet [becoming for successful] in World RX. Coming from a circuit background and recently claiming the STCC title. Does coming from a circuit racing background benefit you as a driver in World Rallycross?

JK: Yeah! I think its definitely a benefit coming from a circuit racing background that is for sure, because you learn a lot in circuit racing, but it also... I mean all the things that you learn in circuit racing, you can use for rallycross. But also coming from Rally, you can also learn a lot of things to use in Rallycross. 

So, its completely two different sides, but I think the circuit racing side has become a bigger advantage because the Rallycross tracks has been more and more towards concrete instead of gravel and so-on. So, that is why I think it benefits the circuit racing driver more. 

JS: What did it take for you to become so successful in circuit racing and World Rallycross?

JK: First of all, we have to have all the stuff around you. The team, car and all this stuff to make it possible to drive. 

But then from myself, I think its very important that I've always done a lot of work before hand on the events. So, I always try prepare myself - you know mentally, physically and try to do good preparation. And, I think that is what's made me where I am today.

JS: Based on your championship titles in Porsche Carrera Sweden, STCC and World RX. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

JK: I think it depends on what's happening with the Rallycross. How it will be when it goes towards electric, but if it comes to be a big sport in electric, I think I will still be in Rallycross. If the sport is not committed with manufacturers into electric, I think you will see me somewhere else. 

JS: So, if the EWRX does not attract you. Would you consider another series? DTM or Dakar Rally and so-on?

JK: We will see. I think circuit is for sure what is closest to me because of the kind of background I have, but I also like new challenges. Rally and I think other circuit racing - touring cars like I've done before, but its a question that I have to consider if the Rallycross does not happen. 

JS: If you could change one thing about the FIA World Rallycross Championship. What would it be and why?

JK: I think I would take away the grid position draw for Q1, and make it a qualifying instead. Otherwise, I think the format is perfect 

JS: Other racing drivers namely, Sebastian Vettel names his racing cars. Do you name your car?
Kristoffersson named his PSRX Supercar "Wilma"
PHOTO CREDIT: Volkswagen Motorsport

JK: Yes, Wilma. 

JS: What are your thoughts on the WERX [World Electric Rallycross]? Do you think World Rallycross will be affected by the fact that it will loose the loud/vibrating engine sound? Fans really love the high pitch sound of World Rallycross Supercars.

JK: Yes, for sure it will be different for the spectators onsite, but I mean its a small amount of the people watching it because most of the people are watching it on the TV. So, it will be different, but I think for the electric [RX Series] if there is going to be manufacturers committed to do electric. I think its going to be an upside for Rallycross because without the manufacturers Rallycross is not going to live on the level, which it is today. And, if it does not go electric there will be no manufacturers committing. So, its a give and take. 

Volkswagen Motorsport Fact: The chassis that Johan Kristoffersson has used in the 2017/18 World RX championship was used by Jari-Matti Latvala in the 2016 World Rally Championship. Since 2017, Johan named his car: "Wilma".

Thank You to Johan Kristoffersson for answering my questions. Also, a big thank you to Alison Fyfe-Turck [Fyfe PR] and PSRX Volkswagen Sweden for setting up the interview. 

Statistics and History Source: FIA World Rallycross Championship.
Interesting Fact and Image: Volkswagen Motorsport. 

Kristoffersson Motorsport take delivery of a new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

Two-time FIA World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson posing with the new VW Polo R5
Kristoffersson Motorsport have taken delivery of a new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 rally car. 

The new Polo GTI R5 will race in the teams new rally initiative, which will be called: Volkswagen Dealer Team BAUHAUS.

"Ever since Volkswagen declared that it would be possible to get a Polo GTI R5, it has been legitimate in our planning. It is in line with what Volkswagen does. There is a lot of interest in rallying among people, the dealership and our other partners," said team manager Tommy Kristoffersson.

Johan Kristoffersson has competed in two Rally Sweden events before (in 2016 and 2018) and the Swedish team aim to continue next season. The main goal of KMS is to start a WRC2 class in Rally Sweden. 

"Hopefully, with better time for preparation this time. I'd rather do some rally before and a couple of days' test," says Johan Kristoffersson.

"We have no definite program yet, but waiting to see how Johan's international commitments look before 2019, but the rally initiative is rooted in our heavy partners, Volkswagen and BAUHAUS," said Tommy Kristoffersson.

The double World RX champion has been included in the starting list for the SM sprint in Sundsvall on February 1st (2019).

Team Manager Tommy Kristoffersson takes great satisfaction from the long-term cooperation with Volkswagen, as they continue in a new motorsport discipline.

"We have worked with rallycross, racing and now rallying, which becomes a new part of the Kristoffersson Motorsport brand," he said. "It is amazing and unique to work with the same car manufacturer and Johan in three different disciplines. Johan, who is also a genuine VW product since the beginning of his career."

Kristoffersson Motorsport confirms that a second Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 is expected to arrive in 2019. The team aim to have both cars competing even when Johan is not available.

"I definitely think we will be well prepared. We have sniffed this world earlier, in collaboration with Management. Much is still new, but we have built up a basic infrastructure, including a new service car," Tommy Kristofferssson concludes.

ESmotorsport offers cash incentive for strong results in debut World RX season.

The Skoda Fabia WRX Supercar being put through its paces.
PHOTO CREDIT: ESmotorsport
ESmotorsport have offered their driver up to half million euros for a top 3 result in the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship.

“You must have a bit of healthy aggression I would say if you want to win. If you are not brave enough, it’s not going to work," says team owner Ernestas Staponkus. "I believe that every drivers aim is fighting for the victory."

Staponkus believes that a cash incentive will assist the team in reaching its objectives in 2019. "But this bonus will help to increase motivation even more. It’s a win-win situation," he says.

The Lithuanian team have conducted thorough tests in Latvia (Riga), with an aim for strong results in its maiden season. The team went as far as to compare the 2018 World RX Supercars speed and laptimes to their new Skoda Fabia RX Supercar. 

“We are sure that we have a car capable to achieve the top 3 result. That was proved during our tests in Riga, in September," says ESmotorsport-BRGroup manager Mr. Ramunas Fetingis. "With the very fresh car we achieved very promising lap times." 

ESmotorsport's technical director Sebastien Lesonneur is sure that their newly built Skoda Fabia WRX has the speed to compete with the fastest WRX cars in 2019.

Kevin Abbring has been hired as a driver and is also responsible for the development of the new Supercar. 

“That is very a very fast car," says Abbring. "I am enjoying it driving every kilometer. This is not only the job, it is big part of fun.”

Monday 10 December 2018

ESmotorsport are targeting a strong maiden World RX campaign

ESmotorsport testing the new Skoda Fabia WRX Supercar.
PHOTO CREDIT: ESmotorsport 
ESmotorsport are pushing ahead with their plans to compete in the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship. 

The team are fully confident that they will show strong performances throughout their maiden World RX season.

With experience of competing in the FIA European Rallycross Championship's Super1600 class for several years, Ernestas Staponkus team owner and driver revealed ambitious plans to compete in the highest level of Rallycross with Skoda Fabia RX Supercars.

ESmotorsport have built new a Skoda Fabia RX Supercar for the 2019 season. Staponkus partnered with Thierry Viardot of Viason Sport and Ken Skidmore from Autotek to assist with the building and maintenance of the Supercars throughout the 2019 season. 

The Skoda Fabia RX Supercar being put through its paces.
PHOTO CREDIT: ESmotorsport
Nasser Al-Attiyah and Kevin Abbring tested the new Skoda RX Supercar at the Bikernieki Sports Base in Riga in September, so comparisons could be drawn between the new car and the pace of current World RX teams. 

Further tests were conducted with Abbring in recent weeks on asphalt roads in the Czech Republic, with a focus on cooling and brake packages. 

The team are yet to name its driver line-up for the 2019 season

The Lithuanian team expects to be able to fight on the front row in 2020. And, with that in mind the team are forging ahead of a development program in parallel with the 2019 season to improve the cars performance.

Ekstrom's World RX team will not compete in the 2019 World RX season.

Mattias Ekstrom, team owner of EKS has announced that his team will not compete in the World Rallycross championship next season (2019), and the team will be selling their Audi S1 Supercars

Ekstrom's team made its World RX debut in 2014. Two-years later the team achieved its goal of claiming both the drivers' and teams' championships. 

"Most likely this will be the last of EKS are going to get in the World Rallycross Championship, after five amazing years where we had so much amazing support. So much fun, a great team and a great support of all the partners," said Ekstrom"We have decided that we will take a break, and we will not be on the grid for the 2019 season."

"When I started EKS in 2014, my dream was to make a team that I always dreamed of being a driver for. That means, a white [cars] team with the best people. Coolest brands and the greatest partners, and the greatest cars."

"The Audi S1 new version was the dream car for this project, and now five-years later, we can only say that it was a success."

Mattias Ekstrom claimed victory in his teams third-ever World RX event and his home round in Sweden. The Swede also claimed a second place finish in Germany (in 2014).

"During these five-years, we had a lot of great drivers, driving our cars not only in competition I mean even through the events,"  he said. "I think of Walter Röhrl, Stig Blomqvist and many, many more. That has meant a lot for me to share the joy I had in our Audi S1."
"I also want to say a big thanks to IMG, FIA, the organisers, all the marshal's and also to my competitors - without you all it wouldn't have been such a great challenge and a great adventure. Last, but not least the partners and all the team members that have stood up and been loyal throughout this adventure, I can only say from the deepest of my heart: Thanks to all of you!"

Ekstrom's teammate Andreas Bakkerud joined the EKS outfit at the end of the 2017 season when Ken Block's Hoonigan team withdrew from the championship. The Norwegian claimed third place in the drivers' standings in his first full season with the team (in 2018). 

"I wish you all the best for whatever you do and Andreas [Bakkerud] sorry again," said Ekstrom. "Your programme was cut short. Something is that you miss a bit of luck, but keep remembering hard work pays always off. Goodluck my friend!"

The Swede's outfit received factory support from Audi for the 2017 and 2018 World RX seasons. 

"2014 when EKS started, we were private team. 2017 and 2018, we had Audi factory support and we were so-called a factory team. That was something great for us, and I also want to say a big: "Thank You" to Audi for believing in EKS, myself and all the drivers," he says. "In the end, we managed to be champion once and twice we were runner-up. Still something to be proud of. During the last five-years, we have also been focused on telling you a lot of stories. Twelve months a year, if its on snow or on ice, during a race weekend or during a normal event."

Mattias Ekstrom has confirmed that his team are selling their 2018-specification Audi S1 Quattro Supercars, and has said that EKS will support the new owners.

"Now, we are going to sell our cars, and I really hope that the new owners will have as much fun as we have had with the cars," he said. "Also, EKS will definitely support the new owners, that they can also have success and hopefully, get some trophies."

The future remains uncertain for the EKS team. "What the future will bring, we do not yet know, if we stay in the world of Rallycross, circuit racing, Esports or maybe even chess," he concludes. "Who knows, where you will see EKS again. One thing that I can promise you. We will be different to everybody else."  

Mattias Ekstrom's full statement on the EKS Youtube page.

Thursday 6 December 2018

USA dropped from World RX calendar to save costs.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media
A revised 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar was announced yesterday by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council [WMSC] in Russia. The American round was dropped from the calendar for the next two years. 

The inaugural World RX of USA was held at the Circuit of the Americas in September earlier this year, and PSRX Volkswagen Sweden's Johan Kristoffersson won the event. 

IMG, the championships promoters have said that a reduction in costs for teams was the leading factor for dropping the World RX round.

“After consulting with the FIA and our World Championship teams, we have decided to reduce the number of events in our 2019 calendar," said World RX Managing Director for IMG, Paul Bellamy. "This decision has been made to help control costs for the teams and ensure the series remains as competitive as possible."

The WMSC have also approved a number of measures to control costs during the two-year transition to Electric Rallycross, including reduction in the calendar [10 rounds], a new limit on the number of personnel per team and shortening events to two days.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media
In the current FIA Sporting Regulations, 21 personnel are permitted to attend a World RX race weekend. Sixteen are engineering personnel, two crew chiefs per car and a the team manager. 

World RX Managing Director for IMG, Paul Bellamy has confirmed that the Americas Rallycross [ARX] championship will go ahead as planned on September 28-29, and World RX teams will be allowed to compete in the race weekend. 

“We will run a round of the Americas Rallycross Championship at COTA on September 28-29, which World Rallycross teams will be welcome to compete in, but it will not be part of the World Championship," says Bellamy

Despite Americas absence from the World RX calendar for the next two years. The promoter is adamant that the championship will return to America in 2021. 

"We are planning the return of the World Championship to the USA in 2021 when we add electric cars," said Bellamy. "We are still very much committed to growing rallycross in the USA and will continue to build audiences and platforms through our Americas Rallycross Championship."

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Exclusive Interview with Timmy Hansen.

Timmy Hansen speaking at the Saturday top 3 post-qualifying press conference.
PHOTO CREDIT: JunaidSamodien.
Timmy Hansen, son of Kenneth Hansen (14-time FIA European Rallycross Champion) competes in the FIA World Rallycross Championship

Hansen began his motorsport career in circuit racing, where he claimed the Swedish Karting Championship in 2008 and won races in Formula BMW, Formula Renault 2.0 Alps and the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0. 

In April 2011, Timmy competed in his first ever rallycross event in France in a borrowed Citroën Xsara Supercar. 

In 2012, Kenneth Hansen (his father) offered him a one-off drive in the FIA European Rallycross Championship

The Swede started his rallycross career by taking part in the entire 2013 Euro RX series, after nine rounds finishing in 3rd place overall.

Timmy Hansen claimed one win and three podiums in the 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship, and fourth overall in the championship standings. 

The Swede joined Team Peugeot-Hansen in 2015, and took three wins. He went on to claim second in the championship behind Petter Solberg.

In 2016, Hansen claimed a win at the World RX of Canada. He continued with the team in 2017 and claimed four more podiums. 

At the end of the 2017 season, Peugeot announced full factory support for Team Peugeot-Hansen. With the factory support came a name change. The teams name changed to Team Peugeot Total. 

In 2018, Team Peugeot Total got off to a competitive start, but later introduced an evolution of its baseline model - 208 WRX Evo. The new car was introduced in Sweden and showed strong pace.

Timmy claimed a third place in Belgium and a second place finish in Canada. He ended the 2018 season in sixth in the drivers' standings. 

Peugeot Sport announced their withdrawal from the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the end of the 2018 season, leaving Timmy Hansen, Sebastien Loeb and Kevin Hansen without a seat for the 2019 season.

TIMMY HANSEN - FIA World Rallycross Championship STATISTICS:
- 351 Races
- 5 Event Wins
- 24 Podiums
- 38 Qualfiying Round Wins
- 43 Finals Appearances
- 1045 Total Points

Being granted the opportunity, I conducted general interview with Team Peugeot Total's Timmy Hansen

Junaid Samodien: Who inspired you to become a racing driver? Was it your father? [14-times FIA European RX champion]

Timmy Hansen: I guess, it was my father. You know, I was always travelling to races. I grew up in the paddock, so must have been there. Its always been with me somehow. I can't remember a time, you know. Its been obvious for me. 

JS: What has been the highlight of your career to date?

TH: I don't know, probably when we became Team World Champions in 2015, and when I finished runner-up. 2015 was a good year for me. 

JS: What is your favourite World Rallycross circuit?

TH: For World Rallycross, its probably Sweden [Holjes]. Its a fantastic circuit! 

JS: With Peugeot Sport leaving the World Rallycross championship this year (2018). Where do you see yourself next year? World Rallycross without the Hansen surname [Hansen brothers] is not World Rallycross.

TH: I agree. I hope we make it, but a lot of pieces have to come together and right now its very far from being finished. We are working as hard as we can.

JS: Goodluck!

JS: What would you say to your fans who have supported you through your entire career? As they wait for the news on your future?

TH: I really appreciate their support. And, that is so important to have the support from them [Fans]. I am happy with all the comments that they have given me on social media and everywhere, and wishing me goodluck and hoping to see me back. That is super important and I need that support through the winter.

JS: The Peugeot 208 RX Evo has looked quick this season, since its introduction. Is there anything that you would change or could have done differently to achieve success this season [2018]?

TH: I think we've had performance wise, a very strong year. Especially, the beginning of the season, we were always qualifying well and so-on. I have 30-points minused for engine changes. Also, we have had quite a lot of DNF's [Did Not Finish]. So, performance wise, its been really good and without the points that I've lost. I think we would have been in this fight for second place.
Timmy Hansen out on track in his Peugeot 208 WRX Evo.
PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien

JS: With World RX changing from more traditional circuits to more festival styled venues. If you could change one thing about World Rallycross. What would it be and why?

TH: Nothing, I think its really good! I think its fantastic!

JS: What are your thoughts on the Electric Rallycross championship in 2021? Do you think it will be a success? 

TH: I am very excited. I think the car's will be super fast. Really, really fast! 

JS: Do you think that the reduction of sound compared to the current series will be an issue in 2021 [Electric Rallycross]? 

TH: No... No... I have driven a Formula E simulator, and honestly It took me like 20 minutes before I was like: "Ohh yeah... this is electric car". Because inside the car you still hear the rev of the engine, its a different sound. So, you know the electric sound, but you still hear the rev of the engine and it still sounds the same, but it is different. 

Of course, when we look at the next generation, I have a son now. And, probably when I am old, I am going to tell him about back in the day, how we had such loud cars and you know this V8 [engine]. Hear the sound of this and his going to be like, he does not understand. 

JS: You have spoken about your son? Would you let him continue the Hansen legacy and let him race when he is older?

TH: [Laughs] Whatever, he wants!  

Thank You to Timmy Hansen for answering my questions. Also, a big thank you to Alison Fyfe-Turck [Fyfe PR] and Charlotte of Team Peugeot Total for setting up the interview. 

Statistics and History Source: FIA World Rallycross Championship.