|PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien|
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
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.”