#11 PETTER SOLBERG
Born: 18 November 1974
Birthplace: Askim, Norway
Club: KNA Indre Østfold
FIA World Rally Champion 2003
FIA World RX Champion 2014/2015
Bronze medal 2017
10 World RX event wins
#1 JOHAN KRISTOFFERSSON
Born: 6 December 1988
Birthplace: Arvika, Sweden
Club: MK Team Westom
FIA World RX Champion 2017
Silver medal 2016
Bronze medal 2015
17 World RX event wins
There’s nothing new about children raising hell. What’s different is a child raised in Hell. That’s Petter. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Hell, as far as Petter’s concerned, is heaven. For as long as he could remember, weekends were all about places like Hell, the smell of Castrol R and Volkswagen Beetles.
Petter’s folks, you see, were all about racing. Between them, his mum and dad have won more than 500 autocross races. That’s some serious silverware.
And just when Tove and Terje retired from winning, Petter started. And now Oliver’s at it as well. The cups just keep on coming.
Throughout his career, Petter Solberg has made it clear that motorsport is right at the heart of what he does. So, when it came to matters of the heart, it was going to take a special girl to raise his eyes from ride heights and ramp angles. That girl was Pernilla Walfridsson.
And guess what… Pernilla’s the daughter of former European Rallycross Champion Per-Inge Walfridsson. The story goes on.
Pernilla is a successful rally driver in her own right, so, it’s no surprise that Solberg Jr is already well on his way to a career in motorsport as he embarks on a season in the Latvian Junior Rally Championship.
Signing for the Ford World Rally Team at the end of 1998, Petter was in dreamland as team-mate to his hero Colin McRae. The Scot starred for a young Solberg and not only in terms of career progression, he was also a big hit and an unforgettable presence on Petter and Pernilla’s wedding day!
Petter moved to Subaru in 2000, where he won the first of three world titles in 2003 – he remained at the forefront of world rallying for another decade.
By 2013, rallycross was calling again and the PSRX team was born. After a year of getting back up to speed with racing side-by-side again, it was a case of déjà vu for Petter and rallycross. Just as he’d taken back-to-back rallycross titles at the start of his career in 1995 and 1996, he did the same thing in 2014 and 2015. But this time it wasn’t the Norwegian title, this time Petter had taken on the world and won.
Petter is all about the sport and the competition: why walk when you can run? And why run when you can race?
But the most impressive numbers are the ones Johan dialed in last year. Try these: seven wins from 12 races – five of which came in brilliant back-to-back domination stretching from Norway in June to Latvia in September. Only twice, in Portugal and Buxtehude, did Johan not finish his weekend stepping down from the podium, overalls soaked through with champagne after the top three celebrated in traditional fashion.
Motorsport success is something of a family tradition for the Kristofferssons. Johan’s father Tommy competed in the FIA European Rallycross Championship and Swedish Touring Car Championship.
For Johan, it was the other way around. He honed his circuit race craft perfectly in a variety of race series, including STCC, Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia and Italy’s Superstars Series. Undoubtedly, the biggest year of Johan’s early career came in 2012, when he took all three of those titles (including all three Superstars’ categories: Italian, International and Rookie).
Racing genes have undoubtedly served Johan well. But watch him on a track and you’ll see an exceptional balance in the way he drives a car. His ruthless efficiency is honed each winter. Johan’s a skier. His balance, poise and understanding of momentum was carved in the mountains. And it translates perfectly to the track.
And even better on the dirt. With circuits licked, it was time to cut to the loose and chase the sort of success his father enjoyed in RX.
Fortunately for Johan, his father had maintained the family motorsport team which had run his own campaigns, which is how Kristoffersson Jr came to drive a Volkswagen Scirocco at his home round of the 2013 ERC.
A year on and a partial FIA World Rallycross Championship programme delivers instant success, when Johan puts his Volkswagen Dealer Team KMS Polo on the podium in Belgium. A full season follows in 2015 and starts in the best possible fashion with victory in the World RX opener in Portugal. A total of five podiums demonstrate there’s consistency to match his pace and third in the championship is reward for both.
What’s better than third? The Swede’s solid silver 2016 second, that’s what.
And what’s better than second? Well, last year was solid gold for the second-generation racer from Arvika.