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09 Jun 2016

Solberg: “I love this duel!”

Category: News, WRX Posted 09.06.16 15:36 by

“One thing is certain: It will be a closer and more difficult fight than ever before!”. Solberg gears up for WRX round five, as the championship returns to his home event in Hell. 

In 2014 we won the first ever FIA World Rallycross Championship by 46 points,” says Solberg. “In 2015 the gap to our nearest rival was reduced to 26. This year, the title race is set to be much closer; thanks to the epic duel we are in vs Ekström.

Solberg continues:


“It was great to become World Champion again in 2014 after eleven years without the taste of gold. I was also very excited about winning a third career World title last year. Yet I sit here with a feeling that the 2016 title is the one to really reach out for. If Ekström, Kristoffersson, Loeb or someone else manages to pull it off – it all remains to be seen.”

 

ERC24.com

The Lånkebanen at Hell is set for the fifth round of the 2016 WRX. © JKR/ERC24

 


 
Although Solberg is certain on one thing: “it will be a closer and more difficult fight than ever before!”
 
Mattias Ekström currently leads the championship standings before the championship starts its Scandinavian leg. 
 
Ekström and I are rivals, but we also have a mutual respect for each other. The same applies to our teams. We have great respect for how they work and vice versa. Why? Because we do a lot of very similar things to reach success. We always turn-up prepared for the season and each race, we have a clear strategy and follow it, we respect each other and everyone else, both on and off the track. We analyse situations before and after the races, develop our cars and equipment constantly and we refuse to be satisfied with what we have,” says Solberg.
 
Never being satisfied is both a pleasure and a curse. This leads to an excessive amount of work for the team, but it also gains results – and results are what both Mattias, I and our teams live for.
 
He adds: “to be completely honest, the 2016 FIA World RX Championship has a high standing because there are multiple drivers who are genuinely fighting for the title. In the fight against Ekström and co. there is no room for error, and every day one we have to look for improvements for both car and driver.”

 

erc24.com

Petter Solberg holds off Ekstrom during his successful qualifying campaign at Lydden Hill a few weeks back. © JKR/ERC24

 


 
Solberg continues: “Here’s a particularly interesting observation from Lydden Hill last time out. Five times the track records (4 and 6 laps) were crushed on the legendary track. The last two years the qualifying times (4 laps) have been smashed by 6.7 seconds, and the finals by 9 seconds.”

Below are the clear differences in race-times at Lydden over the past three seasons:

6 laps:
2014 Bakkerud 4.25,4
2015 Solberg 4.25,0
2016 Ekström 4.16,4
 
4 laps:
2014 Solberg 2.58,9
2015 Ekström 2.56,1
2016 Solberg 2.52,2

Solberg goes on: 
“My prediction is that the battle between Ekström and me will continue at the highest level and last until the end. The season is only 1/3 of its way in.”
 
In Solberg’s opinion the World RX of Argentina on 27-28 November will be the decisive race:

Although Mattias says he needs to do the DTM in October, when the race at Hockenheim collides with Rallycross at the Estering in Germany, I think I will be right when I already state that we are going to see Mattias Ekström in his white Audi S1 ​at the Estering in October…I tried to squeeze him a bit at Lydden Hill last week, but couldn’t make him answer clearly about it. “
 
Solberg is also certain of one more thing this weekend: “now it’s time to go home. And hard!

 

erc24.com

Ekstrom gains the upper-hand following his last round win in GB. © JKR/ERC24