Out of Hell into heaven, welcome to Höljes. And welcome home Johan Kristoffersson. It’s the champ’s big race, the season’s so-called magic weekend. And what a way to come back to his people, wearing the crown and king of the season so far with four from five wins.
And don’t forget, Johan flew higher than anybody over the most famous jump in rallycross and won World RX of Sweden last season. This weekend the man who is 31 points clear at the top of the table is chasing back-to-back success in his backyard.
Once again, that backyard will be busier than usual. Last year was a record with more than 45,000 fans nosing their way through the sleepy Värmland village of Höljes and into the Motorstadion. This time around, with PSRX Volkswagen Sweden’s homegrown hero and a brace of brilliant Polo R Supercars to cheer on, it’s going to be even busier. The Torsby-based team takes its shortest trip of the season, travelling just 100 kilometres north to Höljes to bring the year to its mid-point (round 6/12).
With four wins from five, Johan couldn’t be happier with the way his 2018 title defence has begun. Team owner and triple FIA world champion Petter Solberg has stood on the podium three times this year, but he’s very, very keen to make the top step next Sunday.
So keen, in fact, Hollywood’s started reading poetry. Not just any poet though, one of Sweden’s best: Gustaf Fröding. From his Karlstad home, Gustaf wrote: “For the dream, though the truth were vanished, was the princeliest dream I could get.”
Petter’s dreaming his own princely dream about next week…
Pernilla, what’s it like to come home?
PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team principal Pernilla Solberg
“It’s so special. The people come from so far to come and watch here. Locally, there’s not so much going on, we’re not close to any major town or city in Höljes, but that makes it a bit better for me – it means those people who come here are the hardcore race fans who will stay and make a really good party atmosphere.”
“Year after year we have come and enjoyed this place. Johan winning last year was a really special moment for Volkswagen Sweden, for him and, of course, for me too – this is my home race!”
“I love this track and these people. They speak my language!”
Petter, you have good experience of this track, what’s the key to a quick lap?
Petter Solberg, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team owner/driver and triple FIA world champion
“I like this track. Before we have the new regulation about the testing, we used to do some running up here – it’s the closest place for us. Like the last track in Norway, Höljes is the natural rallycross circuit and it’s really quick in places, I like that.”
“What I really like is the way you can use some kerbs and use the crests, jumps and dips to move the car around and keep it sliding – it’s a real driver’s track this one.”
“It’s famous, I think for three things. The first is the banked left-hand corner which leads you onto one of the fastest stretches of the season, downhill on gravel. I love this. That takes you to the second most famous part of this track: the jump. It’s a really big one. If you wanted, you could fly and fly, but all the time you have to check who’s around you and what’s going on. The focus is always on the clean landing to get the nice line into the next corner.”
“The third thing which is most famous about this place is the people. There are 45,000 people here and they’re all here for a mid-summer party. It’s amazing. It really is the magic weekend.”
“This time, I want to make it my magic weekend. I missed the final last year because I stalled from pole position in the semi-final. I’m more determined than ever to get to and then make the most of Sunday’s final race.”
And for your next trick, top Norway Johan…
Johan Kristoffersson, defending FIA World Rallycross Champion
“Wow! Honestly, I don’t know how I can do that. Norway was really perfect, everything came together so well in Hell.”
“At the earlier rounds [this year], I was maybe struggling a little bit to find the perfect place – the real sweet spot – in Saturday’s first two qualifying rounds. Sunday was going well, but I needed to hit the ground running a bit more. That came in Norway. Everything was perfect.”
“Free practice was good, then as soon as we went into Q1 the car felt fantastic. The Volkswagen Polo R Supercar was just brilliant for me, the team has worked so hard for this and I’m so grateful and so happy. We did some testing before Hell and everything worked, it gave us some time to test some options on set-up for the car and we’ve gone in a good way.”
“Petter and I both think there is a bit more to come from the car still, so this is exciting. And I think we will need it – for sure the competition is coming closer.”
“Winning at home was one of the most special results of my career in Höljes last year and all I can do is try to repeat that result next week. Competing in front of so many thousands of fans is unbelievable, when you see the flags everywhere the atmosphere is just going through the roof. I love it.”
— Petter Solberg RX (@Petter_Solberg) June 18, 2018