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WTCC Q&A: Thed Björk, 2017 FIA World Touring Car champion*

WTCC Q&A: Thed Björk, 2017 FIA World Touring Car champion*

04/12/2017 12:00

Thed Björk beat Norbert Michelisz to the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship following a dramatic title showdown in Qatar on Friday night (1 December). The Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo driver from Sweden reflects on the “greatest moment of his career”.

Q:
You arrived in Qatar leading the FIA World Touring Car Championship by 6.5 points and left as the champion. How good does it feel?

A:
“It’s indescribable actually now I’ve calmed down a bit but it was completely crazy straight after the race with so much feelings going around. I felt really good driving today. It obviously made it easier with the problems Honda had with Norbert [Michelisz] but I feel like I’ve been putting the championship together all year. For me I felt like I won it in Macau because it was my first time there and these guys had been there and knew the place and I was just trying to keep my lead in the championship because Norbert was really fast there. But it just feels good now.”

Q:
Sweden has celebrated plenty of World Rally champions in the past but never in circuit racing. What does that mean to you?

A:
“To become the first ever Swedish racing world champion is something I have dreamt about since I started racing. I can’t put words to my feelings right now but this is by far the greatest moment of my racing career. The season final went according to our plans and a massive thank you to everyone in the team, they are as much world champions as I am.”

Q:
You said you’ve always had a dream to be a world champion. Can you believe it’s happened?

A:
“When I was young I wanted to be Formula One world champion. That was not possible so this is unbelievable. Imagine living your dream and I think a lot of us are living our dream as race car drivers. This title I got but I’m still living my dream by being a race car driver and I’m really happy to share this with you all and I feel big respect from everyone.”

Q:
Two years ago Polestar Cyan Racing didn’t really exist as an FIA World Touring Car Championship team but they leave Qatar with two titles. Just explain the effort and hard work that’s gone into this success and the talent behind the scenes?

A:
“It’s fantastic to be a part of the group. We fight so hard like all race teams do to win championships and to win races. If you set a goal and achieve it, it’s unbelievable. We set the goal this year to be champion because that was not the goal at the beginning. We were going to take more years to try to get the world title but my boss said ‘do it now, do it this year’. So lots of pressure but he also said we’re going to have fun and we have fun winning and that’s the point. It’s such a goal to set up and I’m so happy to be a part of it with Nicky [Catsburg], Néstor [Girolami] and Yvan [Muller] and we all had a part in it. But I would also like to send my thoughts out to Tiago [Monteiro] because he had to leave the championship because of an accident and we all know what happened. Big respect to Tiago and I am missing him a lot and I send all my best to him. I hope he can come back and take another championship because I think he’s worth it. It feels good to be here but it would be nice to fight with Tiago as well. And Yvan’s back and he was really fantastic holding Rob [Huff] back in the Opening Race. It was a really good team effort and much more easy for me to just drive.”

Q:
After practice on Thursday when Norbert Michelisz was so fast, what did you think, how did that affect you?

A:
“We got less sleep because he was so fast yesterday. We were sitting in the briefing thinking what we were going to do but we did what we’d be doing all year. We couldn’t change too much. We had the car that we had so we just tried to put every detail together. But Esteban [Guerrieri] and Norbi were so fast yesterday that we didn’t think it would be easy today and then when Norbi had his problems it changed things for them. That was good for us and in motorsport you know everything can happen.”

Q:
You’ve won four Scandinavian Touring Car Championship titles but was this the hardest you’ve had to fight to become a champion?

A:
“Yes, definitely. It’s such a high level, a different level. It’s so much work, so much effort put into the car, trying to win this we’ve given everything so for sure it’s a lot, lot more difficult. It was crazy and big respect to Honda as well. Apart from their technical issue it’s been a very big fight.”

*Subject to final confirmation by the FIA

Norbert Michelisz has received yet more silverware. Twenty-four hours after picking up his trophy for finishing runner-up in the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the FIA Prize Giving event in Paris, the Hungarian was honoured a little closer to home.

The top three drivers in the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship were honoured in Paris on Friday evening when the stunning Château de Versailles hosted the annual FIA Prize Giving ceremony.

FIA World Touring Car Championship promoter Eurosport Events has broken with tradition by awarding the prestigious WTCC Nürburgring Nordschleife Best Driver Trophy to not one but two drivers after Polestar Cyan Racing’s factory duo, Thed Björk and Nicky Catsburg, tamed planet earth’s toughest race track in spectacular fashion back in May.

Jean Todt has been re-elected as President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) at the organisation’s General Assembly in Paris today.

Thed Björk will be crowned FIA World Touring Car champion for 2017 at the FIA Prize Giving in Paris this evening. Here are some facts about Polestar Cyan Racing’s swift Swede.

The FIA World Touring Car Championship will be replaced from 2018 with new technical regulations, a new format and a new name following a vote of approval by the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris yesterday (6 December).