Tommy satisfied so far

17/07/2015 by Zandra Björkholtz

Volkswagen Team Sweden is at the half-time break with a second place in the World Rallycross Championship for Johan Kristoffersson and a fourth place for the team. - We set up a three-year plan last year. This year we were supposed to learn from running the whole series, to be on the podium a couple of times and maybe win a race. We are already in line with this, says team director Tommy Kristoffersson.

The aim to win a race was fulfilled already in the season opener in Portugal, where Johan Kristoffersson was top of the podium.

- We were well prepared for the season and had done our homework last year. We put our efforts on developing the car and changed 60 spots for this season. It turned out to be the correct strategy to limit competing last year. We delivered directly and it gave us a kick in the right direction as well as strengthened the credibility for our project.

The first races were very much about Johan Kristoffersson and Petter Solberg. The last races have been more even, with several candidates for the victory.

- The others have caught up on the advantage we had in the beginning. We need to improve a bit to be able to keep our second place and maybe put some pressure on Petter. We have some ideas of how to do this and we are planning for a three days test with Ole Christian’s car during the summer. Hopefully we can bring some of that knowledge to Canada, but most certainly Hell will be the big test for our improvements.

The FIA World Rallycross Championship 2015 is now midway, after six of thirteen races.

- I think the championship meets our expectations. The concept and the production is professional and works well. That’s the positive side. The negative part is about the high costs for the teams. We have to travel long distances and personnel costs are huge. We are fighting to find financial balance and I think that goes for many teams who are now investing  more than the outcome is. Better ways for finding revenue are needed.

There will be a change in organization for Volkswagen Team Sweden as team manager Per Andersson now quits his job to return to the world of industry, having been offered a director’s job.

- It feels sad and is of course a setback for us. Besides a good friend leaving is also the loss of wide knowledge. But I understand his decision. This is a job with a lot of travelling and for Per it has been especially difficult to be on tour as his son Nils is competing in crosskart elsewhere.

A replacement is not available at the moment. Instead there will be some reorganizing within the team.

- Such a person is not to be found at the moment. I will have to take more of the administration myself instead of the more free role I have had so far this season. That will mean less time socializing with the team, which is a disadvantage, but the team has good routines and will be fine anyway. Bart Stanek will also attend all the races henceforth and will be responsible for some of the tasks. Looking further ahead we need a permanent replacement.

All the travelling in the World Championship requires compact living in the paddock, which has worked very well according to Kristoffersson.

- That's because we have such a good mix of people in the team. The atmosphere has been excellent during our travels. Everyone has to take their resonsibility and even when you are having a bad day you are allowed to be yourself and the respect is mutual. Absolutely outstanding.

In his free role Tommy has also been the chef of the team, a somewhat rare occupation for a team director.

- Maybe so but I don't think anyone has been food poisoned yet. This is an important part of our interaction so we have put effort into tasty and well-cooked food. You work better if you know that you have something delicious looking forward to.

Tommy gives praise to all the mechanics and engineers for their effort so far and also comments on his two drivers in the World RX and the third one in the Euro RX.

- Johan has delivered on a level that we expected and that we knew he was able of. Maybe a surprise for some others, but for us more of a confirmation. Johan is also clever in his work with the engineers and has taken the biggest responsibility for developing the cars. He has had a lot to think about in his private life, little Colin having arrived, but despite this he has been able to recharge and on top of that also produced results in the Porsche Carrera Cup.

- Tord has been a bit unlucky. Seen from the outside you might think he could raise his lowest level, but there is a reason. We have had technical problems on his car, things that Tord can do nothing about and of course this builds uncertainty. We hope to give him better possibilities so he can be up front, like in Germany.

- Ole Christian was fast already last year. In Belgium he drove really well, as so in Höljes. On top of that he has now learnt to assess when he can put his nose in and when he shouldn't.

Some of the drivers' decisions are part of Tommy's job, from his view in the spotter's tower, a part that he, despite his thorough knowledge of rallycross, is somewhat new to.

- You have to take many fast decisions and that can be a bit worrying. Sometimes I take the wrong decision. In Germany we could have picked Johan for the joker one lap earlier and maybe secured a place on the podium. But my main thought is to give the driver the chance to win by his speed. Hopefully the advantage in speed is something we can regain thanks to our development work. That will also make the decisions more easy.