Tanner Foust makes his return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship this weekend at Lydden Hill, a circuit he knows well. In an exclusive interview with World RX Foust reveals his thoughts ahead of what is set to be a record breaking weekend of motorsport...
Q: What are you most looking forward to about returning to World RX at Lydden?
TF: “It will be great to visit some of the best fans in World RX. Rain or shine they pack the fields along the track and hopefully again this year we’ll put on a good show.”
Q: It’s well documented that you like the Lydden Hill circuit, what makes it special for you?
TF: “Lydden Hill is the home of the sport, and the first place I competed in rallycross. I’ve raced there every one of the last six years and I like the track -- the Joker lap placement always makes for an epic finish.”
Q: You’ve won at Lydden twice, what is key to being successful there?
TF: “Lydden is a really fun track and it’s tempting to push too hard. If you can be a little more restrained and find a precise line through all the chaos, you can make up a lot of time. Joker strategy is also key: you must not forget to take the joker... Petter [Solberg] and I won't let that happen again!”
Q: As someone who has raced regularly in the European Rallycross Championship and now World RX for a number of years, what has been the biggest change to the sport in that time?
TF: “When I started racing rallycross in Europe, what we called “rallycross” in the United States was a grassroots autocross-type of sport: you’d see a bunch of Subarus driving around in a grassy field. Even at Lydden Hill, when I raced there for the first time in 2010, not a single car in the field had a camera mounted on it and few official sponsors were involved. The format was well-established, but it still had a grassroots feel. Now the sport is accessible to more new fans with great video content coming out every round, great television coverage and tracks being built in metropolitan areas.”
Q: What result do you hope for at Lydden?
TF: “With the competition that’s there, who knows? The Volkswagen Polo RX is a very capable car and I know I’m in great hands with the Volkswagen RX Sweden team. But with so many cars showing up for six spots in the final, making it to the end of the weekend could be considered a win!”
Q: Have you watched the first three rounds of World RX? What do you think of the level of competition this season?
TF: “Yes I have and the competition is at an all time high! Rallycross has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years and that’s increased the level of competition as more teams make the investment in the sport and bring their expertise and experience. The drivers I’m racing against now are some of the best in the world – in any motorsport. In some ways, it reminds me of competing in the Race of Champions, where you get a whole bunch of amazing drivers with different backgrounds fighting out together on track.”
Q: Who do you expect to be the biggest competition at Lydden?
TF: “The competition this year with a lot of drivers, both famous and infamous, has made for some exciting rounds so far so I’m looking forward to getting in the mix. While Mattias Ekström has been pretty dominant this year, the critical corner at Lydden Hill is incredibly rough and tends to favour Petter Solberg’s softer setup choice and he’s been the driver to beat at Lydden Hill in the past.”
Q: What will it be like to compete against Ken Block, outside of America?
TF: “Ken and I have been racing each other for 12 years so it will be nice to be back on track with him this weekend. For me, it’s great to have another American involved oversees in a sport that I have been invested in for 6 years. It's about time! Ken has a huge following and will be a great force in making rallycross more popular than ever. It'll be great to finally have two American flags on that double-decker driver parade bus!”
Q: Will you get an opportunity to test the Polo before the weekend?
TF: “Unfortunately, no. I’ve watched a lot of video on how the cars are working this year and I like their setup but I’m only going to have a few laps to get used to the car and the tyres again before the racing starts. I’m looking forward to it.”