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Sverre Isachsen: “Everything Is Going As Planned So Far”

Image via Subaru Rally Team USA

Three-time European Rallycross champion Sverre Isachsen has had quite the transitional year in joining the Global Rallycross Championship for 2012, currently ranking 11th in points as part of the Subaru Puma Rallycross Team. Though his position in points isn’t somewhere he’s used to running, the ever-positive Isachsen insists that the team is making all the right moves in developing its WRX STi model.

Isachsen backed that up at the end of September, giving Subaru its first podium of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This week, he took some time out of his schedule to answer our questions about the second half of the season and upcoming finale at SEMA:

(Interview coordinated by Chris Yandell)

First question: you’ve changed series and cars in a big way this season after three years of ERC titles. How big of an adjustment has this season been for you?

It’s a big adjustment because I’m driving a different car from what I had been driving for several years and won three ERC championships with. The Subaru is different, but has a huge potential, something we showed in the last race in Las Vegas. The GRC is quite different from Europe also, with different type of track. I’m used to the permanent rallycross tracks we have in Europe with a lot of gravel, but here we drive on temporary tracks on ovals. It’s different, but a lot of fun.

Image via Subaru Rally Team USA

New Hampshire was the first time that the GRC was able to get dirt involved on a NASCAR track, as well as adding an elevated hairpin over the pit wall. In short, it was perhaps the most unique layout of the season. What were some of the biggest challenges on that track?

I love the combination of tarmac and dirt, and that’s why I love rallycross. The dirt section in New Hampshire was definitely good for the track, and made it more challenging and fun.

You had an incident at the start of your heat race at New Hampshire. What was your view of what happened, and how much damage did it do to the car?

The start was earlier than expected because of the live TV, so I didn’t have a good start, and I had an incident in the first corner. I don’t like when we have a chicane as the first corner. But incidents are a part of rallycross, and I’m always trying to be positive and look forward. That’s what I did in New Hampshire as well, even though the crash ruined that race for me. But we came back strong in Las Vegas, just as planned.

Image via Subaru Rally Team USA

Las Vegas added new modifications to the layout from Charlotte and Texas, adding six-degree banked dirt in the NASCAR infield and putting the shortcut through the gap jump.  How was it and What did you like about
it?

Las Vegas was a lot of fun, and it was a track that suited me well. It’s interesting experiencing these different types of track layouts, as long as they are both exciting and safe.

Tell us about your podium in Vegas.  What were your goals for the Las Vegas race weekend and how did it feel to finally reach the podium after so much bad luck earlier in the year?

Our goal for this season was a podium, and we reached that goal at Round 5 in Las Vegas. We have a three year plan, and 2012 is just a learning year for us, to develop the car. I won three titles in Europe, and I’m not satisfied with just podiums in the USA. I’m going for the win, but everything is going as planned so far.

Image via Subaru Rally Team USA

Do you have anything to lose by driving all-out at the final event at SEMA?

No, not really. Another podium would be nice, and I think the track outside the SEMA show at the convention center will be a good one. We want to finish the season on a high.

Finally, how did you spend the two months while the GRC took a break before Vegas?

I was home in Norway, where heavy rain had ruined a lot of roads, and also my local rallycross track. So I volunteered to help with rebuilding the track again. It’s never a boring minute in my life!

– Chris Leone

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