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In record time former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg and his team has built a unique carbon-fibre car for RallyCross. The 38-year-old and his crew worked round the clock for two weeks to get the car ready in time for the first round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship in England, even sleeping in the workshop some. Now there is some important testing to carry out to prepare the brand-new carbon monster for a massive fight against some tough rivals.
Late on Monday, the car finally left Petter Solberg RX Team headquarters in Torsby, Sweden, for a test venue in France just outside Paris. The build of the car took exactly two weeks and one day, with the team working for at least 17 hours every day. Sleep was in short supply – and now there is the all-important test in France to get through. “It’s essential to get the car set up exactly the way we want it before next weekend’s races,” said Solberg before heading off to Paris.
The chassis and rollcage was made by Ingvar Gunnarsson Motorsports in Sweden, while Solberg’s chief engineer Simon Levett led the build of the car along with Petter Solberg himself. Bespoke parts have come in from all over the world, while a number of completely new solutions have been devised at home in Torsby. The bodyshell is made of carbon fibre, and lightweight materials have been used as much as possible inside the car. Everything is tailor-made and specifically customised to Petter’s Citroën, and this of course takes time. “So far it’s been absolutely amazing, with Simon Levett and our mechanics driving things forward. I feel so lucky to have such a fantastic team around me,” added the Norwegian. The team also recruited British engine guru Julian Godfrey to build the powerplant, which puts out nearly 600 horsepower.
The chosen test venue this week is the Circuit de l’Ouest Parisien Rallycross track, west of Paris. Once testing is over on Thursday, the Petter Solberg RX Team only has a three-hour drive to Calais and the ferry across the English Channel. Round one of the FIA European Rallycross Championship takes place at Lydden Hill in Wootton, between Dover and Canterbury in Kent, next Sunday and Monday. A new adventure begins, as Petter has never before taken part in the Supercar RX class. He can’t wait to begin.
The 2003 FIA World Rally Champion is creating his own RallyCross team to compete for further titles in 2013. Both in the series he and his team decide to tackle, as well as a heavy pursuit for Gold in the 4 Global X Games that are slated for this year.
“It feels a bit like getting back to my roots” Petter says. “My motorsport career started with RallyCross. I earned Silver medals in RallyCross and Hill Climb in Norway in 1994, Gold the two following years. Back then, in 1996, I actually considered the European RallyCross series for my longterm future but it turned out that Rally would pull me in. I devoted 15 years of my life to rally before calling an end to it in December last year. Some of the best years of my life.”
“I have received many offers to drive in various forms of motorsport, cars and teams since our announcement. However, I feel that the opportunities that the two major series are presenting from here on out starting in 2013 is the most progressive and coolest sport. It’s a place where I can be myself. Once again I can work closely with my sponsors, be very close to the fans, have my own team of qualified people, and be my own boss. It’s a great mix. Where else could I remain in a powerful awd turbo which is more or less a WRC car aside from the extra 300hp, and have between 5 and 8 others around me spitting fire as well?! That to me is just too hard to pass up.”
Petter goes on to say “RallyCross is a perfect automotive action sport. It has close fights between powerful cars, It’s an arena sport, it’s very accessible, and it’s easy to follow with plenty of racing throughout the day all in one place. Understand this, it is quite a show to be seen and heard! I really want to become a Champion at least one more time in my career! You know me; I am a showman and I want to make some noise. RallyCross will fit me perfectly.”
When it comes to current RallyCross series, to be at the top leaves you with two very viable choices that are both running a proper calendar with all of their events broadcast live as well as highlight packages in certain international markets. Out of Europe, you have IMG rejuvenating the deeply historic European RallyCross Series (Now called “RX”) which consists of 10 stops around Europe with very solid competition and a great plan to produce very fun event weekends for the fans and sponsors. On the other side, out of America, you have the Global RallyCross Series which is run by a good group as well and directly connected to ESPN. Very solid competition there as well, vs some good friends like Ken Block and Travis Pastrana just to name a few. Great people. The GRC consists of a 10 round schedule which spreads events across the USA as well as 4 X-Games stops in Brazil, Barcelona, Munich and the closer in Los Angeles. Full time GRC drivers/teams are automatically included in invites to each X Games and specific invites will be given to drivers/teams from the European RX series.
Solberg is currently building a Citroën DS3 RallyCross car, which will not be ready for at least another month. During this time of preparation, we will continue discussions, and explore both series for the best fit, and best global broadcast packages. Our fans have followed us all around the world and continue to do so. We want to make sure that they have as easy an opportunity as possible to continue following Petter in to the next phase of his Motorsport career.
The new Team including members, sponsors, and livery will be presented at a later date.
Opening Rounds for both Series are as follows:
European RX –
England March 30 – April 1 2013
Global RallyCross –
X Games Brazil May 11-12 2013
About Petter Solberg:
Age: 38 years
Born: Spydeberg in Norway
Car: Citroën DS3
World Rally Champion: 2003
SILVER: 2002, 2004 & 2005
Victories: 13 (Wales 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, Cyprus 2003, Australia 2003, Corse 2003, New Zealand 2004, Greece 2004, Japan 2004, Sardinia 2005, Sweden 2005, Mexico 2005).
Podium finishes: 52 (13-15-24).
Career: Ford (1999-2000), Subaru (2000-2008), Petter Solberg WRT (2009-2011), Ford (2012)