Barcelona beckons as Volkswagen RX Sweden targets back-to-back success

2016-09-15

The ninth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain this weekend (September 17 – 18), where Volkswagen RX Sweden is aiming to continue its current form on the back of two consecutive podium finishes, which included the first victory of the season for the Volkswagen Polo RX Supercar in France two weeks ago.

Currently third in the World RX Drivers’ Championship standings, Swedish star Johan Kristoffersson is hoping to that his latest victory in France, together with circuit racing experience and a podium finish at the famous Barcelona Formula 1 and Moto GP circuit last season will aid the team in hunting down the leading drivers in the points.

Volkswagen RX Sweden is also third in the World RX Teams’ Championship with Kristoffersson and former FIA European Rallycross TouringCar Champion Anton Marklund at the wheel of identical Volkswagen Polo RX Supercars. Marklund, who has been a regular finalist in recent events, heads to Spain targeting his first podium finish of the season.

“The team has been working so hard this year and it was great to win in Loheac. We improved the car a lot from day one to day two there and I was able to really push on the Sunday,” said Kristoffersson. “Last year we had a bit of turnaround in France, then in Barcelona the car was great. That was also the time I started working with my engineer, Laurent. I hope for more of the same this year. It’s great to go to Barcelona with a victory in the bag, and I can’t wait to drive in front of the great fans there. I really liked the track last year, the facilities are really good too and we had a good result. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Marklund experienced a character-building weekend at Loheac a fortnight ago, and has suffered ill health in the lead up to the Spanish round of the championship. The Swede is working hard to return to full health ahead of the weekend, and is confident of scoring a strong result. “I have already forgotten about the challenging weekend in France. We are now heading to Barcelona very well prepared, and with Johan’s win fresh in our memories. We know we have a good package and I’m going there with great confidence in what the car can do,” said Marklund. “Unfortunately I have been unwell between Loheac and Barcelona, and had to spend 24-hours in hospital. I hope my body can recover fast and we can pull off an amazing result in Barcelona. That would be fantastic.”

Volkswagen RX Sweden Team Principal Michael Schneider is confident that the team can carry forward lessons learnt in Loheac into the latter part of the 2016 season. “It was really, really good to win in France, in front of such a huge and enthusiastic audience. The whole team enjoyed tasting victory, and we are all working hard to continue in the same way in the last four rounds of the year,” said Schneider. “We will do everything we can to close the gap to the leaders in both the Teams’ and Drivers’ Championships. We learnt some important lessons in Loheac, and found some good improvements ahead of the second day. We know we have better pace now, especially in dry conditions, and we aim to have both cars in the final again this weekend in Barcelona.”

Sten Forsberg, Head of Volkswagen Sweden, is hopeful that the team’s recent results can continue in Spain. “It was a great success for Johan to win in Loheac,” he said. “If this positive trend continues in Barcelona, I think we can expect some very exciting last races of the championship. We will fight to reach a top position!”

The FIA World Rallycross Championship can be watched live on SVT this season in Sweden. Coverage from Barcelona starts at 14.00 (CET) on Sunday September 18.

Time schedule: Barcelona, Spain, September 17-18 (CET)

Saturday September 17
09.30: Open Practice
12.00: Qualification 1
15.15: Qualification 2

Sunday September 18
09.15: Warm-up
10.00: Qualification 3
12.25: Qualification 4
15.00: Semi-finals and Final

FIA World Rallycross Championship Drivers’ Standings
1) Petter Solberg, Norway, Citroën, 181
2) Mattias Ekstrom, Sweden, Audi, 176
3) Johan Kristoffersson, Sweden, Volkswagen, 158
4) Andreas Bakkerud, Norway, Ford, 157
5) Sebastien Loeb, France, Peugeot, 141
6) Timmy Hansen, Sweden, Peugeot, 117

11) Anton Marklund, Sweden, Volkswagen 59

FIA World Rallycross Championship Teams’ Standings
1) EKS (Audi), 277
2) Team Peugeot-Hansen, 258
3) Volkswagen RX Sweden, 217
4) Hoonigan Racing Division (Ford), 210
5) World RX Team Austria (Ford), 126
6) OlsbergsMSE (Ford), 83

FIA World Rallycross Championship 2016 Calendar
1 Portugal – Montalegre – 16/17 April
2 Germany – Hockenheim – 6/8 May
3 Belgium – Mettet – 14/15 May
4 UK – Lydden Hill – 28/29 May
5 Norway – Hell – 11/12 June
6 Sweden – Holjes – 2/3 July
7 Canada – Trois-Rivieres – 6/7 August
8 France – Loheac – 3/4 September
9 Spain – Barcelona – 17/18 September
10 Latvia – Riga – 1/2 October
11 Germany – Estering – 15/16 October
12 Argentina – Rosario – 26/27 November