First race, first win: World champion Johan Kristoffersson (S) took victory at the opening round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship (WRX) in Barcelona. He and team-mate Petter Solberg (N) also gave PSRX Volkswagen Sweden an early lead in the team championship.
The Polo R Supercar was at its very best in extremely difficult conditions, with the track wet and muddy at times. Petter Solberg, PSRX team owner and the man who finished third in last year’s championship, won two of the four qualifying heats, finishing runner-up in the remaining two. This put Solberg in first position overall ahead of the final races, with Kristoffersson third up to that point.
The two PSRX drivers finished one-two in their semi-final to progress to the final. However, it was here that lady luck deserted the weekend’s outstanding driver to that point, Petter Solberg: His dreams of victory were brought to a premature end as he was unable to avoid colliding with a tyre wall following contact with Mattias Ekström (S, Audi) going into the first corner. Solberg ultimately had to settle for fifth place, while his rival was subsequently disqualified from the final. Kristoffersson initially crossed the finish line in second place after a flawless drive, but was then awarded victory in the final following the stewards’ decision. This was the tenth WRX win of Kristoffersson’s career.
Johan Kristoffersson (S), Volkswagen Polo R Supercar #1
“You are obviously really up for it at the start of the new season. Everyone starts on zero points. I am extremely happy with my performance in the final. The fact that the powers that be awarded us the win instead of second place means we can head home happy. It was a good start to the season. It is a shame for Petter, who deserved a better result – but he will come back stronger.”
Petter Solberg (N), Volkswagen Polo R Supercar #11
“We had the right speed this weekend. The car was good, we were out in front in qualifying and won the semi-final. Unfortunately, however, the incident with Mattias Ekström in turn one cost us a possible victory. That is obviously disappointing. All in all, however, our performance was extremely positive.”