Thed Björk says that he does not feel any pressure to defend his title in 2018, with the new FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) not carrying official ‘championship’ status.
Björk, 37, lifted the WTCC title with Volvo in 2017 after a hard-fought campaign against rivals Honda. But the Swede does not feel that he is defending his title in the series’ successor, the WTCR, in 2018, as he is no longer racing for a manufacturer team.
“I don’t carry number one and I don’t feel like I am defending the title,” said Björk to TouringCars.Net. “It’s a new start with a new team and a new car, and I’m looking forward to when the World Championship title comes back again, and when it does I would feel like I would defend the title then.
“It feels really good [to learn a new car], because we pushed so hard to win the world title last year, and it means that I get a new start and to learn the cars again.
“I don’t feel the pressure – I just have to deliver directly and defend my title, because if we were defending the [world championship] title it would feel different. Now I have two new projects that I have to learn this year and it feels good.”
Björk will also be racing in the Swedish GT season in 2018 in a Lotus Evora for the newly-formed Lotus Cyan Racing outfit.
“My contract is with Cyan Racing. But now they have lent me out to Yvan Muller Racing, and when we go to Sweden it looks like it’s Lotus Cyan Racing. “
The transition to TCR regulations had meant a reduction in the sophistication of the cars compared to the TC1 machines of 2014 to 2017, and Björk admits that he will therefore need to adopt a different approach in 2018, with no development of the car taking place during the season.
“For me, I still get frustrated because I want different things from the dash. I don’t get any information like I had before, so it’s really a step down in the way I worked for the last three years.
“On the other hand, it feels good because we are now a customer, Yvan Muller Racing is the customer team, and this is what we have.
“It’s really interesting to just take what you get and then try to do the best you can. Because with the Volvo we were developing it and developing it and thinking all the time. Now we can focus on the small things.
“What is also a lot of fun is that there are so many good drivers coming here from different countries now. There is also the old gentleman league of ‘super touring’ drivers, so I’m looking forward to beating them!”