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PSRX Dominate in France

Posted by Eoin 07/09/2018 0 Comment(s) Motorsport,

PSRX VICTORIOUS IN FRANCE

 Johan crosses the finish line

 

After taking the top step on the podium in Canada, Johan was full of confidence heading into round 8 in France. With a 55 point lead in the drivers’ championship, it looks like the rest of the pack are losing sight as Johan takes off into the distance just like he seems to do race after race.

 

Drivers’ championship positions:
1 Kristoffersson                    195pts
2 Loeb                                     140pts
3 T Hansen                              140pts
4 Bakkerud                              139pts
5 Solberg                                139pts
6 Ekström                                134pts

 

His first qualifying session saw him drawn against “The British Bomb” Liam Doran, who was in the seat of the GCK Renault Megane, His first competitive World RX race in two years. Liam took the lead into turn 1, not a bad way to announce your return against the reigning world champion. The pair battled and exchanged the lead a couple of times, until on turn 4 Johan did what Johan does best, got his nose in front, and then put distance between himself and the rest of the field. If this first race was anything to go by, it was setting up to be a superb weekend of racing.

 

Liam Doran and Johan Kristofferson battle for position

 

Petter went head to head with fellow Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud, and Frenchman Sebastien Loeb in the final race of Q1, both of whom are sat ahead of him in the championship. The battle into turn 1 resulted in Bakkerud taking the lead, followed by Solberg in second, and Loeb in third place, and this was the way that it remained after the Joker laps, to see Petter take 2nd in the heat, and third overall after Q1.

             HEAT 1 RESULTS

Driver                                   Q1     Q2     Q3     Q4     INTER         SF      F
Johan Kristoffersson             1       
Petter Solberg                       3          

 

Q2 saw the top 5 in the championship sat on the start line, but nobody could have predicted what was about to happen...   Bakkerud started to creep forward as the lights held them, Johan lifted off the throttle, anticipating the jump start, call it luck, call it skill, call it what you may, the lights go green, Bakkerud is away, and Johan is trailing at the back of the pack. Not a position he has found himself in often this season. By the end of Lap 1 he had got himself into 4th. Lap 2 saw him push on into 3rd with Petter tight behind him in 4th. Lap 3 saw him push up into 2nd, and then make a brave pass up the inside of Bakkerud going into the final turn to take the lead going into the last lap, while setting the fastest lap of the day in the process. Petter was sitting in 3rd, and pushing for 2nd, but he got held up by Bakkerud, who was slightly off the racing line, left the door open for an aggressive move from Timmy Hansen in the second to last corner, which resulted in Solberg finishing 4th in the heat, and taking P7 in Q2. This put Johan at the top of the standings after day 1, with Petter lying in P4.

             HEAT 2 RESULTS

Driver                                   Q1     Q2     Q3     Q4     INTER         SF      F
Johan Kristoffersson             1        2                 
Petter Solberg                       3        7       

 

The overnight rain meant that the conditions were very difficult for the early qualifying sessions, with several drivers finding themselves in the gravel, or in the tyre walls. In a rare occurrence, the FIA released a bulletin informing the drivers that if they jump started, there would be a 3 second time penalty instead of the standard two joker laps due to the fact that the joker lap was proving quicker than the standard lap.

With the track drying, the lap times were improving with each heat. Solberg was first up for the PSRX team in heat 4. It was quite a cagey race with Petter caught up behind Timmy Hansen, and trying to fend off numerous attacks from Chicherit, which affected his overall time, and saw him finish 4 and a half seconds behind Liam Doran who had set a blistering pace in heat 3. In true Johan fashion, he wasn’t going to be outdone by “The British Bomb” and patiently waited for his opportunity to take his /joker lap, which was still running quicker than the standard lap, which helped him to get the lead from Mattias Ekstrom. A tap on the rear quarter almost sent Johan into a spin, but some lightning quick reactions saw him hold the car through the corner and hold onto the lead. This performance saw him take P1 and set the fastest lap time of the day.

             HEAT 3 RESULTS

Driver                                         Q1     Q2     Q3     Q4     INTER         SF      F
Johan Kristoffersson                   1        2        1      
Petter Solberg                             3        7        9       

 

Some of the drivers watch intently to see how the track conditions are changing as the day progresses.

Drivers watch on to check the track conditions

 

In a repeat of heat 3, Petter found himself caught behind Timmy Hansen for a large chunk of the race, but he managed to use the joker lap to his advantage, and came out ahead of Timmy, and then held onto the lead to put himself back in the fight after a couple of poor heats had left him lower down the standings than he would have liked. As the track continued to dry with every lap, Johan set yet another fastest lap of the day. The other drivers were giving it their all, but Johan just carried on doing his thing. He ;also set a new record as he claimed his 15th top qualifier spot, which put him top of the all time records for TQ, with the last five being in consecutive race weekends. The current record for a driver is six TQ positions in a season, which already has his name against it, but there are still 4 events to go in the season. By taking the race win, he also set the record for the most race wins with 15, which makes him the most successful driver ever in FIA World RX.

             HEAT 4 RESULTS

Driver                             Q1     Q2     Q3     Q4     INTER         SF      F
Johan Kristoffersson       1        2        1        1          1                
Petter Solberg                 3        7        9        2          4               

 

With Both PSRX Drivers safely into the semi-finals, it was time to focus on the business end of the competition. Everyone has their own ways of preparing for the Semi-finals and finals, as you need to have full focus. One slip up in these rounds, and that could be the end of your race. In the Qualifiers, if you make a mistake, there is always the next round, or the previous round to tally up your points. If you look at Petter’s results, the 7th and 9th places were balanced out with two good results in heat 1 and heat 4. But come the finals, if you don’t finish in that top 3, then your weekend is done. Whatever routine each driver went through, it worked. Petter and Johan make it through their respective semi-finals. Perhaps not with the grid positions they had hoped for, but they are in the final, and from there they are in with a shot at the podium.

             SEMI FINAL RESULTS

Driver                            Q1     Q2     Q3     Q4     INTER         SF      F
Johan Kristoffersson      1        2        1       1          1                3       
Petter Solberg                3        7        9       2          4                5       

Catch the final here 

It’s Final Time. The Audi’s of Bakkerud and Ekstrom are sat on the front row, second row is Kristofferson and Loeb, and the back row is made up of Solberg and Timmy Hansen. The battle up to turn 1 is as intense as every other race this weekend. Solberg squeezes up the inside of Loeb to take 4th, but then loses the place to Hansen on the next turn. With a lot of traffic in front of him Petter takes to the joker lap to get himself some clear space. He exits the joker into 6th place. Into the second lap, and Johan decides that he will go for his joker lap from 3rd position. He gets a nudge from Hansen as he turns in, but it he holds onto it to, and doesn’t seem too affected by it. He slips a couple of places, and comes out just ahead of Petter. Two laps in, and both PSRX drivers have taken their joker lap, and are sat at the back of the pack. This is not the scenario we are used to seeing from these two drivers. On Lap 3, Loeb takes the Joker, which opens the door, and both Johan and Petter take full advantage to move up into 45th and 5th places respectively as the Audis start to pull a gap from the chasing pack. Johan is having a look at passing Hansen on every corner, just waiting for a mistake so he can capitalise on it. As they head into the final lap, The Polos sit 4th and 5th, but none of the three cars in front of them have taken the joker. This is tense racing and is going to be decided by the finest of margins. As they emerge from the Joker, Johan takes the lead, with Bakkerud slotting into 2nd, and Petter taking 3rd place.

#1 Johan Kristofferson Race Winner

Driver                            Q1     Q2     Q3     Q4     INTER         SF      F
Johan Kristoffersson      1        2        1       1           1               3       1
Petter Solberg                3        7        9       2           4               5       3

 

Johan takes the top spot on the podium for the seventh time this season. Seven podiums in 8 rounds is insane. Can anyone stop him? It is looking more and more unlikely as he extends his lead at the top of the championship.

Johan and Petter spray champagne on the podium

Drivers’ championship positions:
1 Kristoffersson           224pts
2 Bakkerud                     165pts
3 Solberg                      160pts
4 Hansen                       158pts
5 Ekström                      157pts
6 Loeb                           151pts

 

Another successful round in France where more than 80000 fans cheered on their favourite drivers in glorious weather which made for quicker times race on race, and from a spectator’s point of view, a final which had all the excitement and tension that makes this the sport they love. The closest fought final I have seen, with places being traded numerous times, and all six drivers crossing the line within 1.5 seconds of each other.

 

Johan had some very positive words to say on both the fans, and the team.

“I love this place. The fans are so special here. We know they are all cheering like crazy for Sébastien [Loeb] and they want him to win, but the respect and the good feeling they give to me is so nice. I want to thank them.

“And I want to thank the team. This was an incredible result, one we all worked so hard for. But, I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure it was coming when we went to the last lap in the final – I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

 

Petter also had a bit of reflection, and although they never had the perfect start to the final after their finishes in the semis, they came through with the result.

“The semi wasn’t so good, but everything is possible in the last race. There was lot of movement from the cars ahead of me in the second corner of the final, I was looking to find a chance, but in the end the joker was the right decision. I got in there and pushed like hell, when Johan came out of his joker, we were so close. Then, we were just waiting to see what would they do. 
 
“When the chance came, we were ready. I was absolutely on the limit in those last four corners when the top three went to the joker. To make two cars to the podium is a fantastic result for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden and the Polo R Supercar."

 

Everyone knows the name on the car, but without all the unsung heroes putting in all the effort behind the scenes, then none of this would be possible. PSRX aren’t just a team, they are a family. Everyone from Gareth and his team in the Kitchen keeping everyone fed and watered throughout the course of the weekend, to Neil and the rest of the truck drivers who haul the cars and equipment thousands of miles from event to event. Then there are the mechanics who look after the cars tirelessly and get them repaired and back to the grid when they need to be, and the drivers have full confidence in the knowledge that the cars are ready to take all the punishment they can throw at them.

This clip shows how much it means to the whole team.

   

written by Eoin Robertson 
instagram @eoin_amdetails

 

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