The ERC program suspended by a gut feeling

Tom Kristensson has paused his rallying commitments for the year, just three rounds into the ERC season


The European Rally Championship is missing one of its big names as it returns with Rally Liepāja this weekend.

But Tom Kristensson isn’t missing from the entry through any of the usual reasons like accident damage or a clashing commitment.

Instead, Kristensson is not competing simply because he doesn’t want to.

In the wake of a disastrous Rally Poland, Kristensson announced that he was suspending his ERC program with Tagai Racing Technology and Citroën Racing with immediate effect.

Competing a full ERC season in the future still remains “my target”, and Kristensson hasn’t given up on rallying – as proved by a recent run on the Hovdala rally sprint in his native Sweden.

But there’ll be no more high profile rallies for the rest of the season.

To understand why, DirtFish picked up the phone to Kristensson – who explained that his gut feeling told him that his 2023 program just wasn’t right for him.

“It’s not because of one reason. It’s many, many reasons why I would like to stop it just now,” Kristensson said.

FIA European Rally Championship 2023 Stop 2 - Canaries, Spain

“Let’s say I’m quite a deep person sometimes, I’m thinking quite a lot and quite deep into my life – why are we living, what do I do with my life? I decided to do rallying, and European Rally Championship is one of the coolest things I have ever been in and it’s definitely a dream coming true.

“At the end of the day it’s one of the best experiences I have. Last year, previous years, champion in Junior WRC and now this year as well, it’s a crazy experience and I really, really like it.

“After my very tough year in WRC2 2021, I promised myself to never continue something that doesn’t feel good. I needed to change it, so in 2022 I decided to do a mixed season of six rallies and no championship. We say ‘let’s start and see. If it feels good, we continue, If not we will stop again directly’.

“That year we ended up doing 16 rallies with six overall wins and we became Polish champions – a huge success. And the experience we had in ERC that year told me that I should try a full season.

“But sometimes the feeling is not correct.

“Business people or so on always talk about the gut feeling – ‘this feels right to do so OK let’s go for it, let’s go for that decision’. And my gut feeling at the beginning of the year was saying ‘OK let’s go for the European Rally Championship with Tagai Racing Technology and Citroën’  – it could be a great experience. And at the end it is good.

“The car is good, the team is good and the championship is good and everything is fine. I’m healthy, everything is OK but the gut feeling and the feeling for the whole package, it’s not correct.”

Kristensson however was keen to stress that there was nothing wrong with the package he had, it just wasn’t the right fit.

Tom Kristensson

“It’s not that the team isn’t a good team – it’s working for Mads Østberg, it’s working for other people, but it’s not working for Tom Kristensson. It’s like a chemical feeling,” he said.

Effectively, it comes down to the chemistry that he mentioned. Kristensson could just sense that everything wasn’t quite clicking together like it should. Coupled to the difficult economy which affected his budget, he came to the realization that it was better to stop rather than force something that felt destined to not work.

Kristensson said that he had already decided to miss Liepāja before last month’s Rally Poland where he was expecting big things given he was second there last year and is the reigning Polish champion.

But an extremely difficult rally, where Kristensson picked up both a puncture and a gear selection problem on the first stage and then retired after clipping a stone and breaking a wishbone on the next test, confirmed some feelings he had already been having.

I have food on the table, I have work to go to, I have nice friends, I have a girlfriend, I have my dog. My life is not bad! Tom Kristensson

“I say ‘I don’t need any more signs. Enough is enough.’ It was quite clear that I should not do this rally and then I was taking the decision by myself that I would like to pause this program, I took that decision right there, but I wanted to sleep on it to see what the feeling is tomorrow and confirm it 100% for myself that it’s the correct decision.

“I woke up in the morning and just had the exact same feeling – my gut feeling was not correct.

“For sure the team was hugely disappointed and I completely understand and have huge respect for it – it is business for them. I am truly sorry for it. But I also tried to explain my thoughts and told them ‘isn’t it very stupid to just continue something when it doesn’t feel correct?’

“It’s not fair to you guys, it’s not fair to my sponsors, it’s not fair to my co-driver and especially it’s not fair to myself to just continue something that’s not good – and believe me I have tried it before! It definitely won’t work. It’s not like I didn’t give it a try.


“I’m still a very happy person, and this is also part of why it came as a shock as I wasn’t acting like I was not satisfied with your life. Sure, but why should I go so far that I’m not satisfied with my life? That’s quite stupid in my opinion – it’s better to be happy and stop when you are unhappy rather than make yourself miserable.

“Many people have come to me and said ‘oh it’s s*** you cannot continue the season’ but then I say ‘how bad is it? I did ERC Portugal, ERC Canaries, ERC Poland, I was doing a Swedish championship rally then I come home to my new house, I have food on the table, I have work to go to, I have nice friends, I have a girlfriend, I have my dog.

“My life is not bad, honestly!”

Kristensson deserves huge respect for having both the awareness to make and the guts to commit to such a difficult decision.

Whenever, and however, he does return, he will be all the better for doing so in an environment and situation where everything feels right for him.