Saturday, 22 August 2020

Kristoffersson wins on return in wet-weather masterclass.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Media.
Two-time World Champion Johan Kristoffersson picks up where he left off one year ago, by winning the 2020 Swecon World Rallycross of Sweden (round 1). 

Kristoffersson did what he does best and made it look effortless by winning all but one qualifying session. But it was not all smooth sailing for the Swede, as Mattias Ekstrom fought back to win Q2 with smart team tactics. 

The semi-final was a similar affair with Johan and Mattias battling at the front and winning their respective semi-finals, which meant they would start alongside each other in finals. 

To spice things up, the heavens opened just before the final, which meant teams were forced to make quick set-up changes and tyre selections. Moments later the rain stopped and the racing resumed.

Johan took the hole shot off the line with Ekstrom in second. While a close fight behind saw Marklund and Hansen collided sending the 2019 champion into a spin, and while Hansen lost out Marklund hung onto third with Timo Scheider right behind in fourth. 

Once Timmy got it all gathered up he was joined in the joker lap by Niclas Gronholm who was left on the line after stalling his car. On lap 4 of 6, Hansen's race ended prematurely in the gravel.

As the final progressed Johan was able to inch away from Ekstrom, lap after lap eventually crossing the finish line 5 seconds ahead of Mattias Ekstrom, Anton Marklund, Timo Scheider, and Niclas Gronholm. 

"I think these conditions have been the trickiest that we could get when we came back to rallycross. The weather was changing all day. You are always trying to do your best, but not really sure," Kristoffersson said. 

"The conditions like this when you come back and not 100% confident, but after the semi-final, I felt pretty good and in the final, I dropped the clutch the launch was so good, and from there on I felt okay. Then I just had to do my laps and it's such a big advantage to have a clear windscreen and then from there six good laps." 

The double World RX champion says he is happy to have ended on a high in WTCR after winning in tricky wet conditions from P22 and returns to World Rallycross with a win in similar conditions.

"It feels good, but I am also happy with the win at Sepang (in the wet) with WTCR and started with a win in World RX. So, it ended on a high [in WTCR], and starts on a high [In World RX]," he adds. 

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Media.
Whilst Kristoffersson dominated the rain-hit final, Mattias Ekstrom is happy with a second-place finish but says he would have given Johan a proper run for his money in the final. 

"P2, you can't be satisfied in one way. But 10 or 15 days ago, I got to know that I will drive here, and to have a good day and good pace, I couldn't ask for more," Ekstrom said.

"I wouldn't have expected that, but I was hoping for it to stay dry [in the final] because we had a full dry set-up, and I was hoping to give Johan [Kristoffersson] a battle. In the end, we didn't have the right boots on the car for the final, but Johan did everything right and his very good in the race and knows that I can give him a run for his money when we are all equal. Congratulations to him. They did well!"

Following the World RX final, the stewards determined that Anton Marklund "did not respect the car on the right-hand side of turn 2" and thus handing the GCK Bilstein driver a 30-second time penalty demoting him to fifth-place overall. Whilst All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport's Timo Scheider was promoted to a podium finish in his Seat Ibiza. 

2019 runner-up Andreas Bakkerud and teammate Liam Doran, had a torrid day. The latter suffered with a broken propshaft, which caused significant damage to his Renault Megane. While Andreas Bakkerud had a number of problems throughout the qualifiers stalling in Q1, a slightly better start saw him finish second in Q2, and the Norweigan finally won his third qualifying heat. They ended day one in thirteenth and seventeenth respectively. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien

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