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Thed Björk praises team effort after maiden title

Volvo’s Thed Björk was full of praise for his team after claiming a maiden World Touring Car Championship title in Qatar, saying that his job was made much easier in Friday’s races due to support from his team-mates.

Björk sealed the title in Friday evening’s Main Race with a fourth-place finish as main rival Norbert Michelisz could only manage eighth.

The Swede also had support from his team-mates Nicky Catsburg and Yvan Muller, though, and at one stage he held a podium position as Catsburg sacrificed his position for Björk, before the duo later swapped back.

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It followed a solid Opening Race, where Björk was able to rely on support from team-mate Yvan Muller, who acted as a rear guard against attack.

After claiming his first WTCC title – only the seventh driver to lift the WTCC’s biggest prize – Björk acknowledged that it was taking time for his success to sink in.

“It’s indescribable actually now I’ve calmed down a bit,” admitted Björk. “It was completely crazy at the beginning with so much feelings going around.

“I felt really good driving today. It obviously made it easier with the problems Honda had with Norbert, 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 the lead because Norbert was really fast there. But it just feels good now.”

Björk praised the efforts the Polestar Cyan Racing team put in for him, including those of Néstor Girolami, who gave up his seat for Muller in the season finale to help Björk’s cause.

“It’s fantastic to be a part of the group,” added Björk. “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 [of the project]. 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, there was 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, Néstor and Yvan and we all had a part in it.”

After 12 races Björk had been trailing early championship leader Tiago Monteiro, before the Honda driver’s testing accident ruled him out for the rest of the season. The new champion paid tribute to Monteiro, ultimately slipped out of the top five in the points after missing eight consecutive races.

“I would also like to send my thoughts out to Tiago, 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 fantastic holding Rob [Huff] back in the Opening Race. It was a really good team effort and much easier for me to just drive.”

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