Reflecting on the Nitro RX 2022/23 Season and Finale with Robin Larsson and Joel Christoffersson
For much of the season, Robin Larsson was the star of the show in Nitro Rallycross. Winner of the opening round of the season, he never fell from the top of the standings, so emerging from the season finale as champion was a mere formality, right?
As is often the way in professional sports, the script wasn’t followed by the letter. A season-worst result in the first race of the weekend was followed by only his third finish off the podium all season, and with the final round of the year ineligible for the dropped score, after coming in comfortable, the pressure was on
“It was up and down the whole weekend,” Larsson says of the Glen Helen triple-header. “We came in with a good feeling – we'd been good all season more or less. We didn't have many struggles – I think a puncture, at the most, in a final – but the finale had everything at once, so I was so glad to just end it.
“I never in my imagination had it in my thoughts to win the last race because I just wanted to finish. If Bakkerud was winning, I was supposed to be sixth at the worst. So I just thought ‘finish, finish, finish’”.
Finish, he did, and in style. A top qualifying performance got the final round of the season off to a good start, but a steering problem soon arose. It was cured for the final, however, where Larsson started from the second row of the grid but soon moved up to second.
He then inherited the lead when polesitter Kevin Eriksson fell by the wayside. It was a lead he wouldn't ever relinquish as he capped off a stunning season with a third victory of the season that was also another 1-2-3 for the Dreyer & Reinbold JC stable.
“When I was in the lead I tried to drive 90 percent as fast as I needed to do and it was enough this time and the car worked,” he says. “Luckily that the steering problem didn't happen in the final or something could have.
“But yeah, it was a rollercoaster of a weekend and it felt so good. To end with a 1-2-3 with Frazzz and Bakkerud, and also 1-2 for the Cartel felt really nice.”
Larsson’s ability to bounce back from a tricky start to the Glen Helen weekend to win round 10 and the championship with it perfectly highlights his strength over the course of the year, says DRR JC team boss Joel Christoffersson.
“Robin drove very badly on the first day and then the Saturday was better, but on the Sunday his shoulder went down and he did a great job. To secure P1 and win the championship is great, and I think that shows how Robin has done this year and how good he did.”
It wasn’t the first time DRR JC and Larsson encountered struggles only to bounce back either. On a much bigger scale, their maiden season in 2021 was, to put it mildly, tough. But the team took the lessons learned in that trying first year and applied them to this season, where it showcased quite the turnaround – much like Larsson’s own showing at Glen Helen.
“We did 2021 with the Audis and we struggled big time – we were not prepared for these kind of big tracks with gravel and a lot of big jumps,” concedes Christoffersson. “So we knew that we needed to be more prepared.
“We worked really hard, all the data we got, we used it as a benefit. For sure, we are the only team that has more than two cars, but in the end it's down to the mechanics and engineers and the hard work they've done – and then the drivers, of course, have done a brilliant job
“Robin has never been in a position to win a big championship. Okay, he won the European championship, but this is, uh, this is a proper championship drive that we have done this year, trying to collect as many points every weekend.
If you look at the numbers, a season high of seven podiums from 10 rounds and three overall wins, a record equalled only by outgoing champion Travis Pastrana, you could be forgiven for thinking much of 2022-23 was an easy ride for Larsson, but he insists that wasn't the case.
“It has been hard on the mental side,” Larsson admits. “It's good, it's bad, it's good. You’re never chilled. So finally sit, sit down.... We did it, we did it with the team, me as a champion and us as team champions.”
One championship in the books, Larsson now has his sights set on defending it and claiming another in 2023-24.
“I really hope we can come back and do this again and even be better and bigger and with more drivers, better tracks, bigger tracks, everything,” he says. “I think Travis [Pastrana] has a lot in store, so I love it.”
DRR JC also wants more next year. After dominating 2022-23, DRR JC has its sights set on expansion.
“For sure our plan is to have four cars,” reveals Christoffersson. “We like Nitro, we like the cars and it looks really good for next year.
“Hopefully we can announce something very soon. We are ready to go and it's just to go back home, try to prep the cars, and try to get pre-season testing done as soon as possible.”