Skoda Fabia RallycrossRX campaigner Peter Hedstrom has yet to experience the success he had hoped for in 2013, the start of a new era for the sport, but this only makes him more determined to excel at two of his favourite circuits, both visited in the upcoming final three events on the championship calendar.
The reigning Swedish champion recently reverted back to the 2012 version of his Skoda Fabia, following the split with team mate Knut-Ove Borseth prior to round five in Norway, and immediately made the final with the older version of the car in Hell. Round six at Hedstrom’s home event in Sweden was littered with niggling problems, but in the last three rounds of the year the championship visits two of Hedstrom’s favourite circuits;
“This season has been hard, but Austria and Germany are two of my favourite circuits, so I think we will go well there. We have had a lot of problems this season, but the main one started at the beginning. We built a brand new car for me, so Knut-Ove could drive the car I used last season, but we had nowhere to test. The first time I drove the new car was at the media day at Lydden Hill.
“We just don’t have a suitable track in Sweden for testing in the winter, the conditions are too bad. The new car is very different; the suspension is a new design from Michael Jernberg, who built the chassis.”
With the teething problems you would expect from a new car, the RallycrossRX media day in February didn’t go smoothly for Hedstroms Motorsport, who worked hard to solve the problems for the first round of the championship, back at Lydden just four weeks later.
“We didn’t get on well at Lydden, or Portugal. We worked so hard on the car to get it better, and then in Hungary it felt good, and we drove into the final. That is where we want to be.”
Alongside managing his own car, Hedstrom shifted to a team focus for this season, with former TouringCar champion Knut-Ove Borseth joining the Skoda outfit, at the wheel of Hedstroms 2012 Fabia. Fighting for position with team-mate Borseth in the final in Hungary was the highlight of the first four rounds as a team, but after round four in Finland Borseth made the decision to split with the Swedish team feeling he wasn’t getting the results he wanted.
“For sure the economy for us would have been better is Knut-Ove had done all the races like he agreed to. The problem is that if he hadn’t contacted me over the winter and asked to do the season we could have used the older car for me and been very ready. Now I think my season would have been much better if we had stuck with one car. I have used that car a lot and I know it well. But we have learnt a lot this year, that’s for sure.”
Hedstrom visited the final for the second time in Norway, showing his potential. The team made an attempt to fill the seat in his second car for Holjes, but was unable to secure a driver of the calibre that Hedstrom craves. “We tried to get PG Andersson to do Holjes again but he was doing a rally. We also spoke with Ricard Johansson from STCC, but he only wanted to do it 100% with lots of testing and there wasn’t the time for that.”
Andersson drove for the team twelve months previously at the Holjes event, and ran second in the final until slowed by a puncture. Hedstrom claimed second by the finish, but really enjoyed having two cars in the final at his home event.
“Last season with two cars in the final was great. This is my home circuit; we live just an hour away. I enjoy it when the team does well. I have all my friend’s and sponsors at the event. My sponsors had over 350 guests in Holjes. I got most of this year’s budget because they loved seeing both cars in the final last year.”
While keen on running again as a two car team, Hedstrom is taking time to focus on his own racing, making plans to be far better prepared to run a two car team for next season. “At the moment it is much more relaxed with just one car. For that reason, to run two cars again we would get another awning for the other side of the truck, and run with mechanics for each car.”
If a second driver isn’t to be found, Hedstrom is open to options for 2014, including driving for another team. “I really enjoy the team, and one day I would like to run a team like Kenneth (Hansen) or Andreas (Eriksson), but maybe if we didn’t have a second driver I could sell a car and just drive for another team, and concentrate on work in between.”
Currently, Hedstrom has time for little else than running his RallycrossRX campaign, but does make use of what spare time he has with water skiing. In the winter, the Swedish driver has a different role on the very same lakes. “In the wintertime I teach at our driving school on the frozen lakes. We have three lakes, and we get about 3,000 people each winter. We teach people who drive for their work, emergency drivers etc. We have eight or nine houses they stay in and have conferences, up to 100 at any time. It’s really good fun. It’s great to have so much contact with people and driving. I have been driving on the lakes since I was eleven years old, and it really helps with my rallycross.”
Clearly desperate to succeed, Hedstrom has plenty of background to suggest that when the time is right, he can do just that. “I started in motorcross. I won 87 out of 92 races I did. They all said I could have been really great at it.” Realising his heart lay more with four wheels, Hedstrom persuaded his father into a change or direction. “I said to my father ‘let’s try folkrace’, so the weekend after my last motorcross race we went and bought a folkrace car, and I won the A final in my first race. I think we did about 300 races, before I moved into rallycross in a 1.4 Citroen AX. We finished fourth in the championship in the first year, and won the championship in the second season.
Following his move up the ranks in rallycross, Hedstrom drove an OMSE Ford Fiesta in 2008/09, before changing to Skoda’s, first with the ex-Lars Larsson Fabia MkI, then the MkII he currently races today. “Rallycross is just like a big family, we talk to everyone. The atmosphere is great, and the races are short, intense and full of action. This year the sport has already gone up so much. So many people have been asking me what it’s about. I want to do well. Hopefully the sport will become a world championship. I want to be world champion, that’s my goal.”
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