Showing posts with label World Rallycross Championship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World Rallycross Championship. Show all posts

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Kristoffersson "working on it" to secure 2021 World RX return.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX
Three-time Champion Johan Kristoffersson is working on all avenues to return to the World Rallycross Championship in 2021. 

After a one-year hiatus from the championship following Volkswagen Motorsport's withdrawal. Kristoffersson announced his return to the highly competitive championship, in a hired 2018 specification Volkswagen Polo R Supercar. 

Whilst the stage was set for a thrilling 2020 season. The World RX championship along with many other motorsport categories were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, and with a later start to the season (in August) than usual. The calendar was altered to consist of 10-rounds with three doubleheaders and four stand-alone events, but that soon changed as things worsened globally. 

The final adjusted calendar saw the season consist of four doubleheaders at four different European venues equalling eight rounds in total. 

Johan Kristoffersson leading Robin Larsson (KYB Team JC)
PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX
Betting odds would suggest that Johan would dominate the season from start to finish. However, that was not to be. Why? Because the master tactician returned. 

Mattias Ekstrom returned to the championship with KYB Team JC and proved to be a championship contender from the get-go. While Kristoffersson failed to win round two of the championship (on Sunday in Sweden), it was pretty clear that he thrilled by the prospects of a close and competitive season. 

Johan went on to claim four wins, two second-place finishes, a third-place finish, and his worst result of the season, a fourth-place finish in Finland (round four). It was quite evident that his rivals found performance over the off-season and in 2019, whilst Kristoffersson's hired VW Polo R Supercar had a few updates, including a WRC specification rear wing. 

The 32-year-old Swede had a flawless season in terms of reliability and staying away from trouble (punctures and bad car damage) which helped shape his championship fight. Those around him ran into trouble, but he only had a minor scare in Kouvola which was solved almost immediately.

Leading the championship by 27-points with one round remaining at the Nurburgring, news filtered through that the final round(s) of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship would be canceled due to the second wave of coronavirus in Germany. Following the announcement, Johan was declared the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Champions and later received the official FIA trophy at the FIA Virtual Prize Giving. 

Johan Kristoffersson is officially the most successful World Rallycross Championship driver of all time, and despite being announced as an official Rosberg Xtreme Racing driver for the 2021 Extreme E series. The Swede is also working on a potential return to the World RX in 2021. However, his hopes hit a stumbling block after Volkswagen Motorsport announced their withdrawal from all forms of motorsport at the end of 2020, but he admits that he is "working on it".

"We are working on that at the moment. The last two rounds of the rallycross championship got canceled, so the season ran pretty short anyway, and we were not really prepared for the season to end so fast. So, we didn't really have time to think about 2021 yet, and then the news came from Volkswagen that they are going to stop competing in motorsport," Kristoffersson said.  

"[Right now] we are working on a solution to see what we can do, and what we can find out. The biggest support for our team in 2020 came from the local dealers, Volkswagen Sweden together with BAUHAUS."

"We will try to continue that work and let's see what's going to happen with the car that I used in 2020. At the moment I don't know but we are working on it," he concludes.

Speaking at the FIA Prize Giving Virtual Press Conference, Johan said teams can begin to prepare for the season ahead following the release of the 2021 calendar.

"We have the 2021 calendar now, so in terms of that I think the teams can prepare, and for 2021 there isn't a huge difference in the regulations compared to '20. So, I think in terms of that there are no worries," he said.

Kristoffersson says the new promoters of the World Rallycross Championship should immediately start working towards the electric future of the sport, as he believes it's more crucial. 

"I also think as soon as we get a new promoter. They should start to work towards the electric future and make a decision quite soon on what's going to happen. So, that teams can prepare for 2022, I think is more crucial."

Can Johan Kristoffersson go for a fourth championship title in 2021? Time will tell! 

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Monday, 28 December 2020

Team RX Racing to debut Proton Iriz RX Supercar in 2021

PHOTO CREDIT: Team RX Racing.
In a brand-new venture to bring a new Supercar into top-flight rallycross, Team RX Racing has announced a collaboration with Tony Bardy Motorsport and Proton Motorsport rally specialists Mellors Elliot Motorsport to build and race a Proton Iriz RX Supercar in 2021.

The car will be based on the Iriz R5 rally car, which was built and developed by Mellors Elliot Motorsport's [MEM] and has undergone extensive testing by the likes of double-World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm and Pontus Tidemand. The Iriz RX is being developed to suit the requirements of top-level rallycross competition and will be entered into the British Rallycross Championship 5 Nations Trophy, European Rallycross Championship, and selected World Rallycross Championship events from 2021. 

2007 British Rallycross Champion Ollie O’Donovan is set to race the new Supercar in its maiden campaign and will be operated for Team RX Racing by TBM, a firm that has run O'Donovan's rallycross Supercars for almost 15 years. 

"This is a very exciting day for the whole team," a thrilled O'Donovan said. 

"The cars we have been racing in the British and European Rallycross Championships for the last few years are getting a little long in the tooth, and for some time now we have been looking at where to go next."

"The easy option would have been to buy a car from the World Championship, but we wanted to do something different, to stand out from the crowd."

"I’ve worked with Tony for a very long time now and he is one of the best in the business. Linking his experience of rallycross with the expertise of MEM in the cooperation we’ve put together is a hugely exciting prospect," he adds.

PHOTO CREDIT: Team RX Racing.
Team RX Racing Chief Engineer and Tony Bardy Motorsport Owner Tony Bardy admits that they had a different car planned, but decided "to do something different".

"We did have a different car planned to move us forward, but Ollie didn’t want to be like everybody else, he wanted to do something different. I pondered over that, but to start from scratch it would take years to build and develop something brand new," Bardy said.

"Then it occurred to me, I’ve known the guys at MEM a very long time, and the Iriz is something very different. It didn’t take us long to decide that this is the way to go, to create the first Proton rallycross Supercar."

"The Iriz has already done lots of rallies and proved the concept, so as long as we can get comparable power from the engine to what we have now, which I’m sure we can, I see no reason why we can’t be right where we want to be. The quality of the Iriz R5 is high, and to be involved in this new project with the Iriz RX is a breath of fresh air."

Mellors Elliot Motorsport and Proton Motorsport's Team Principal Chris Mellors adds that when developing the Iriz R5, his team over-engineered the car in some areas as they have had the intention to do some rallycross at some point. 
 
"When we built the Iriz R5 originally, we had in the back of our mind that we might like to do some rallycross, so it was a bit over-engineered in some areas from the start," Mellor said.

"We’re very excited, both Ollie and Tony have vast rallycross experience and it’s great to have a collaboration for this project to see what we can achieve together."

"Although the Iriz is very short, it has one of the longest wheelbases of the R5 cars, with very good suspension travel and fabulous front geometry, from Proton’s original design. We’ve got a lot of adjustments available and we’re going to need to make some specialist components to best suit a rallycross setup, but we’re not far away already."

"We’ve had some very positive rally tests recently, and we’re getting stuck into the build of the new car now."

"We like winning and that’s what we want to be doing with this project too," he adds.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Ekström rules out return to World RX in 2021.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX.
2016 FIA World Rallycross Champion Mattias Ekström has ruled out a return to the championship in 2021. 

Ekström made an unexpected return to the championship this year, as a replacement for Jānis Baumanis who could not compete due to budgetary issues linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

Immediately following the 2018 World RX finale in Cape Town, South Africa, the Swede announced that he will no longer compete as a full-time entrant. However, you can not keep a champion away from the highly competitive World RX championship. He returned for a one-off appearance with JC Raceteknik at the World RX of Benelux where he claimed a tenth-place finish. 

In the latter half of the 2019 season, the Swede took up an advisory role assisting the Monster Energy RX Cartel, as Andreas Bakkerud was in championship contention. However, it was not to be for the Norweigan who ended the season as vice-champion having finished the season on equal points to rival Timmy Hansen. 

A few months later, EKS announced that they would be selling a few Audi S1 Quattro's to Joel Christoffersson's JC Raceteknik. 

After a thrilling and captivating 2019 season. Could anything really top that? The answer was rather simple, YES! 

JC Raceteknik made their World RX debut under the banner KYB Team JC with Robin Larsson and Baumanis at the wheel. However, those plans soon changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which meant the 2020 calendar would need to be altered. 

World RX in 2020 was originally set for an 11-round calendar, but due to a later start than usual and the COVID-19 pandemic, the calendar was watered down to 8-rounds at four venues.

Four venues, four doubleheaders, eight rounds, and thrilling action from start to finish. Any mistakes or errors would be costly. And, to spice things up even further, double World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson returned in a VW Motorsport Polo. 

Could anyone stop, Johan? Yes! 

Ekström would be a strong candidate as he returned as a super-sub in the second Audi S1 Quattro with KYB Team JC. 

No-one would have expected to see Mattias return, a return that would ultimately be a blessing in disguise for the championship, as he took the fight to his fellow countrymen.

The pair were closely matched throughout the season, but it was Johan Kristoffersson who came out on top with four event wins, with Ekström claiming two wins and a few second-place finishes seeing him end the season as vice-champion for the third time.

"I got into this season without having a thought of driving rallycross again, and we sit here with the title in the Teams’ Championship and second in the Drivers’ Championship. The only other goal was of course to also win the Drivers' title, but we were simply not fast enough," Mattias Ekström said. 

KYB Team JC led the teams' championship from start to finish with Team Hansen only coming on strong at the tail end of the season. 

The 2016 World Champion admits that he had more fun driving as a hobby instead of as a factory team, and pinpoints his wins in Holjes and Riga as the best races of the season. 

"It has meant a lot to me to compete and have fun again together with JC Raceteknik, driving as a hobby instead of as a factory driver is a huge difference," he said. "In Holjes for example I had the coolest rallycross race of my career on Sunday, and then another fantastic Sunday in Riga."

Despite finishing second in the championship, Ekström believes that the season went better than expected, and he is very proud to see how KYB developed shock absorbers that are capable of winning races and potentially championships. 

"I think it [the season] went better than expected to complete the season despite Coronavirus. We had a little trouble with some things, but that's also part of the rules of the game. It's fun that there are sponsors and companies who are willing to invest even in tougher times, especially since a lot of things have been quite last minute," he said. "I am also very proud to see how KYB has developed shock absorbers that can win the World Championship."

A return to top-flight rallycross was never on Mattias Ekström agenda in 2020, as he became a test driver for the CUPRA e-racer programme, in addition to competing in the full 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship. It was also announced that the Swede will be the male driver for the ABT CUPRA XE team in the 2021 Extreme E series. 

Having fully committed to the Extreme E series, Ekström has ruled out a return to the World Rallycross Championship in 2021. 

"A year ago I said that the chance was zero that I would return to rallycross, but I had to jump in and it was full push again. So if I said no a year ago, I must say no again. In 2021, my priority will be Extreme E,” he said.

Can we really rule out Mattias Ekström from a return to World RX? It's quite simple... No! Mattias has a competitive fire burning within him, and if he is given an opportunity in a top-flight car or team. He will undoubtedly grab the opportunity with both hands. So, it's not the end just yet! 

Written By - Junaid Samodien.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

"An amazing feeling" to win Teams' Championship in first year as KYB Team JC - Joel Christoffersson.

PHOTO CREDIT: JC Raceteknik
In a shortened but challenging season, KYB Team JC has come out on top in their maiden season in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. 

Winning a  championship in a maiden season is something very hard to come by for any motorsport team, but this season KYB Team JC was leading from start to finish, and come out on top with their nearest rival only 16 points behind in the 2020 World RX Teams' Championship standings. 

Whilst Johan Kristoffersson led the way in the drivers' championship standings from the get-go, his direct rival Mattias Ekström did not make it easy for him. Winning two events of eight on his way to second in the championship for the third time in his career.

After eight rounds in four different countries, despite the challenges surrounding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the ninth and final round of the World RX set to take place at the Nurburgring in Germany was officially cancelled yesterday handing KYB Team JC the teams' championship. 

JC Raceteknik under the stewardship of Joel Christoffersson enjoyed great success in rallycross through the years having won the European Rallycross Championship last year with Robin Larsson, and four titles in the RallyX Nordic series. However, after acquiring two 2019 specification Audi S1 Quattro's from EKS. The Varmland-based team took a leap to World RX as KYB Team JC in pursuit of the ultimate prize - the drivers' and teams' championships. Whilst they failed to achieve the drivers' title, the teams' title in their first year is an incredible achievement. 

"I started JC Raceteknik in 2014 with a dream to race in the World Championship at some stage, so to already win the Teams’ Championship in the first year of World RX as KYB Team JC is difficult to top," Joel Christoffersson, JC Raceteknik & KYB Team JC, Team Principal, said.

"To be World Champions is an amazing feeling. Before the season this was my goal, and to have led from the start only makes it better! Due to Covid-19, the season started late, and although it is, of course, a shame not to be able to finish and celebrate on-site at the Nurburgring, it feels good to be able to tie the knot."

Robin Larsson returned to World RX after a one-year hiatus with KYB Team JC, and was initially set to be joined by Jānis Baumanis. However, due to budgetary issues linked to the pandemic, the Latvian season would be over before it even started.

Surprise!! It was quite a surprise, as Mattias Ekström returned to the championship after retiring from a full-time drive at the end of the 2018 season. 

But was it a full-time drive in 2020, initially the Swede was signed up for the first double-header of the season, which grew to the second double-header and the rest is history after he negotiated with sponsors and clients to remain racing for the remainder of the season. 

It was quite a season, seeing Mattias closer to Johan Kristoffersson than ever before finishing just 27 points behind the three-time World Champion. 

"Mattias and Robin have done a fantastic job. I think we have given Johan and Kristoffersson Motorsport a good fight this year – we are the team that challenged them the most," Christoffersson said. "Mattias has done what he can throughout the season and we are really happy with his second place in the Drivers’ Championship. This is the first and probably only time he will race in a full season with us and it has been an honour to have him on the team."

"Robin has stepped up and shown that the pace he had in the European Championship last year has continued. Unfortunately, he was both unlucky and made a couple of mistakes of his own, otherwise, I think he would have had a great chance to get top three in the Drivers’ Championship."

The 2020 FIA World Rallycross season has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination. With eight rounds condensed into four weekends, and the slightest mistake not only costing time to repair but it forces teams to put in additional hours. 

This season has also seen KYB Team JC taking the biggest step in performance overnight during the double-header weekends, and despite Kristoffersson getting out of the blocks the quickest, he finished behind Mattias at two events this year, in Sweden (round 2) and Latvia (round 2).

"I’m very grateful for all of the hard work by everyone in KYB Team JC and JC Raceteknik this season. It has not been an easy year for anyone, and everyone has fought really hard," he said. 

"Also a big thank you to all our partners who lined up despite these tough times, without them we would not have been able to take the World Championship title. Now the whole team will reload and work on trying to find a plan for 2021."

Ekström's KYB Team JC Audi Supercar with the Teams' Championship trophy and Vice-Champion trophy.
PHOTO CREDIT: JC Raceteknik.

One could say without Mattias' guidance and experience, the team might not have won the championship this season. As he is not only a master tactician but is also well versed in set-up and improving a race car. Whilst the Swede might not be happy with a second-place finish for the third time, he was a lot closer to the Kristoffersson (the 2020 champion) this year. 

"I got into this season without having a thought of driving rallycross again, and we sit here with the title in the Teams’ Championship and second in the Drivers’ Championship. The only other goal was of course to also win the Drivers' title, but we were simply not fast enough," Ekström said. "Everyone knows Johan's capacity and at the same time as his car is very good, but I think we gave both him and the team a good fight. Then Robin has, in my eyes, taken the biggest step and it has been fun to see his maximum level rise."

The 2016 champion labels the season-opening weekend in Sweden (double-header) and the World RX of Latvia double-header, as the coolest rallycross races of his career having claimed a second-place finish and a win at both events. 

"It has meant a lot to me to compete and have fun again together with JC Raceteknik, driving as a hobby instead of as a factory driver is a huge difference. In Holjes for example I had the coolest rallycross race of my career on Saturday, and then another fantastic Sunday in Riga," he said.

"I think it went better than expected to complete the season despite Coronavirus. We had a little trouble with some things, but that's also part of the rules of the game. It's fun that there are sponsors and companies who are willing to invest even in tougher times, especially since a lot of things have been quite last minute. I am also very proud to see how KYB has developed shock absorbers that can win the World Championship."

The 2019 EuroRX champion Robin Larsson admits that Ekström was very important to the team this season, and he was able to learn from the 2016 champion. 

"Mattias has been very important to the team and to me too. Being able to race in a full World Championship season with him has made me learn things all the time - with setup, driving on the track, and to recharge between races," he said.

The 2020 season has not been the smoothest for Larsson who only brought home a podium finish in Latvia (Riga) despite making the finals at four rounds this year. 

"My season has gone a bit up and down. In Riga, I had very good speed and finished on the podium together with Mattias," Larsson said. "Otherwise, I struggled with small errors and problems that cost a lot, while I also made some mistakes."

"The double-header events have also been difficult and costly if something goes wrong, but it is the same for everyone."

Larsson hoped that the teams' championship would be decided in Germany with a good old fight with the Hansen brothers.

"I would have liked to have decided the season on-site in Germany from a team perspective, where we would have had a battle between us and the Hansen brothers for the title," he said.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Kristoffersson left emotional after clinching third title "with our own team".

PHOTO CREDIT: Morgan Carlsson
Johan Kristoffersson has been crowned a three-time FIA World Rallycross Champion following the cancellation of the season finale at the Nurburgring. 

With a healthy 27-point lead to Mattias Ekström with one round to go (in Germany). Johan has been declared the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Champion following the cancellation of the World RX of Germany earlier today. 

Kristoffersson aimed to end the season on a high in Germany, but due to the surge in coronavirus cases in Germany, the season has unfortunately come to a premature conclusion. The 2020 season was set to get underway in April earlier this year but was delayed due to the pandemic, and eventually got underway in August in Höljes, Sweden. 

As the condensed season progressed, it was clear that there would be more double-headers than standalone events, but something that was clear from the get-go was that Johan was hungry for success. He claimed a win at each event and only missed out on a podium in Finland (round 4). 

With news that the planned season was canceled, it meant the season ended with a bang in Barcelona where Johan came out on top with a win. There were four double-headers this season, with the Swede ending on top, just like 2017 and 2018. 

"The first time is obviously something special, and the second title is memorable as I won eleven of twelve rounds. Now, it is emotional because we did it with our own team, where everything started some years ago," Johan Kristoffersson said. 

The 31-year-old Swede admits that it has been a very odd season, and a rather stressful one with him trying to avoid getting infected, as COVID-19 grabbed hold of the world this year. 

"A lot of instructions and restrictions to follow and a bit stressful trying to stay away from the infection. Some people have it without showing symptoms so you never know," he said.

Ahead of the season, Kristoffersson used the RallyX Nordic as a warm-up event in his 2016 KMS built Polo GTI RX. However, for the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship, the Swede hired a 2018 Polo R Supercar from Volkswagen Motorsport. A car that was previously used by Petter Solberg in the 2018 season.

"We hardly believed in it ourselves, but we wouldn't take no for an answer and finally put all the pieces together," he adds.

Johan won four rounds of eight, three of them on Saturdays.

"Throughout the years I have vastly improved my ability to find the pace early on," Kristoffersson said. "You have to do your homework about the grip and style of driving, and so has the rest of the team."

His first win on a Sunday came in the final round of the season in Spain (Barcelona), also the most memorable round in Johan's view.

"The semi-final in Barcelona! We looked beaten all day but turned everything around and for the first time that weekend, I could enjoy the track properly, doing that ahead of Ekström. A great feeling!" he said.

With a third title this season, Johan is officially in a league of his own having broken records throughout his illustrious career. 

A noteworthy achievement was the mind-blowing 11 wins from 12 events in 2018, a feat that any driver could dream of, but with that being said. 

The 2020 World Rallycross Championship season has now come to a premature end, which leaves one question on the table. Will Johan return in 2021 for another title bout? 

"It's too early to say, but it would be great fun!," the three-time World Champion said.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Kristoffersson and KYB Team JC declared champions as World RX finale is called off.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Media
The final round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship set to take place at the Nürburgring (Germany) on 12-13 December has been cancelled, consequently crowning Johan Kristoffersson as the 2020 World RX drivers' champion and KYB Team JC teams' champions for the 2020 season. 

The 2020 season was due to start in April this year, but due to the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the start of the season was delayed to August. This, in turn, meant that adjustments were made to the calendar, which saw rounds in Norway, France, Abu Dhabi, South Africa, Portugal, and Belgium all cancelled due to a rise in coronavirus cases.

With Germany set to make its debut appearance on the World RX calendar in August, the event was moved to mid-December. 

"In light of continued health concerns regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the organizer of the World Rallycross of Germany, scheduled to take place 12-13 December, has decided to cancel the final event of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross season," the statement from World RX said. "A number of options were explored in the hopes of moving forward with this event, but unfortunately, it was not possible in the end."

Although the Nürburgring proved over recent months that events with spectators also work in the context of infection protection, the situation is now a different one due to the sharp rise in the number of infections in Germany. Thus forcing the cancellation of the 2020 event. However, World RX will return to the Nürburgring in 2021.

"We were all very much looking forward to this premiere at our race track," the Nürburgring Managing Director Mirco Markfort said. "The FIA World Rallycross Championship is an entertaining and action-packed format that further enriches our portfolio. Nevertheless, this decision is essential for the benefit of all involved and their health". 

The cancellation of the World RX of Germany, unfortunately, means that the season has effectively ended at the Barcelona double-header held last month. And with a 27-point lead in the championship standings, Johan Kristoffersson is a World Rallycross Champion for a third time. Whilst KYB Team JC are the 2020 FIA World Rallycross teams' champions.

"We offer our warmest congratulations to Johan and the KYB Team JC for their well-deserved titles,” said Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of Motorsports Events at IMG. “We are disappointed we were not able to hold our final event in Germany, but are very proud of the season we were able to produce throughout these unprecedented times, and our deepest gratitude goes to all our event organisers, partners and fans for their patience and continued support through it all."

The EuroRX and Super1600 championships have also ended prematurely following the cancellation of the World RX of Germany, which was set to host a third and final round of the season. However, due to the series not reaching a third round, it means that the season did not meet the FIA championship requirement, and thus no champions will be crowned. 

The premature conclusion of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship also marks the end of an era. An era of growth, success, and global reach that many championships could only dream of, and that all came down to the hard work of IMG, commercial rights holders of the World Rallycross Championship. 

Despite signing a lengthy deal with the FIA to hold the commercial rights to the championship since 2013, the British promoter announced that they will end the agreement at the end of this season. And, whilst the future of World RX remains uncertain with a new promoter, the FIA are currently working to appoint a new promoter for the World RX championship for 2021 and beyond.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Monday, 23 November 2020

A third world title with KMS would be a dream come true – Kristoffersson.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
Two-time World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson is on the verge of a third title with one round remaining in the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship. 

Whilst winning two-titles isn’t as easy as it may seem, winning a third title this season will see the Swede cement his place firmly as an all-time World RX great. 

Kristoffersson has continued to raise the bar each season setting a high target for younger drivers to aim for and beat in the future.

Some may say his Volkswagen Polo R Supercar is a clear step-up above his rivals, and that was true in 2017/18, but making it work and staying consistent is also key to his success on and off track. 

2018 was the year of dominance seeing the Swede claim a mind-blowing 11 wins from 12 rounds, a feat that any other driver could only dream of, but unfortunately, as soon as the joy came. It went following Volkswagen Motorsport and PSRX Volkswagen Sweden’s withdrawal from the championship at the end of that season. It then meant that Johan was left without a seat for the 2019 season, and he’d have to look for a (racing) seat elsewhere. 

Following a year out of the World Rallycross Championship, he announced his return for the 2020 season with a hired Polo Supercar from Volkswagen Motorsport. The Polo came with a new WRC specification low drag rear wing but didn’t undergo any other significant upgrades in the year off. 

Returning for the 2020 season, all the stars aligned for Johan, but unfortunately, the start season was delayed, and some events dropped off the original calendar due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The likes of Portugal, Norway, France, Abu Dhabi, South Africa, and Belgium, which saw the calendar shrink to nine rounds at five European venues. 

Having won a round at each double-header this season, his rivals always seemed to have an edge over him in preparation for the second round just a day later. 

With a limited amount of engineers, mechanics, etc. allowed at any event due to the strict FIA COVID-19 protocol. His rivals were always able to take a step forward, but he would as well. At each event, he was in contention for a race win but some circumstances did not play out the way he had hoped. 

When consistency is key in a fairly short and compact season, Johan has always been in contention for a podium finish and has only ever missed out on a podium finish in Finland where he bagged a fourth-place finish at round four of the championship. 

Compared to previous years, his rivals are a lot closer this season as their supercars have made progress since 2018. But in order to stay ahead of his rivals, he has had to extract the maximum from himself and the car to gain that competitive advantage over his rivals.

“We knew we will have a good chance to fight for the championship. But there are so many things to overcome during the season and the job has to be done both from me as a driver and the team making no mistakes whatsoever,” Kristoffersson said. “The other teams have definitely improved since 2018 and the fight is very close.”

“But we haven’t retired from a single race of the season and haven’t even had a puncture. I’ve always done decent starts and stayed out of contact as much as possible.”

In the pursuit of perfection, sportsmen (drivers or athletes) often analyze data and review footage of previous events in an attempt to see what happened in the past and how they can beat these odds. Kristoffersson does just that but what sets him apart is that he not only analyzes his data, but also watches onboards of rivals to study how they manage certain situations to learn from it, and if presented with that particular situation immediately know how to deal with it. The Swede also looks at statistics to help him with decision making over the course of a race weekend. 

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Championship.
“It’s always good to have a look at previous years before heading to a race. Both in terms of tire and joker tactics and study how your opponents use to play the game to be as prepared as possible,” the double World Champion said. 

In 2017-18, he joined forces with double World RX champion Petter Solberg, and after two dominant years, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden withdrew from the championship at the end of the 2018 season meaning that Johan would not have a seat for the 2019 season. He returned as an independent entrant this year with Kristoffersson Motorsport, and can only rely on his knowledge and data, as well as that of his crew in order to find improvements. Whilst his rivals this season have two-car teams which help with data collection and testing different set-up options. This in turn puts them at an immediate advantage. But we have seen this season that Johan has been the quickest on track, whilst KYB Team JC made the most significant improvements overnight.  

In order to stay ahead of the field on a double-header weekend, improvements made overnight is quite important. These improvements come from driver feedback, data,  onboard footage, and tyre strategy, but this season one-car teams have been at a larger disadvantage compared to that two-car teams who were able to share data and set-ups. 

KYB Team JC’s Mattias Ekstrom is seen as a master tactician and has taken a big step forward on the second round of each double-header weekend, and has won two events to date. 

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Championship. 
With one-car, an engineer, mechanics, and a spotter, Johan is at a slight disadvantage, but he looks on the bright side, and only focuses on how he can extract the best of the team and himself. 

“I’m always trying to focus on doing my best and the team's best possible, and not thinking to much of what my opponents are thinking and planning to do. What I feel is the most difficult with being a one-car team is the limited data we collect in terms of set-up, track conditions, launch settings,” he explains. “Petter Solberg and I worked very well together in 2017 and 2018, and I have learned a lot back then which I can use now, plus I have the same engineer Richard Browne that makes it a bit easier.”

Some might say Johan Kristoffersson is only as good because of the car he drives, but the statistics suggest otherwise. He is constantly seeking perfection and with the performance always seems to put in, he is reaching an entirely new level of performance which sets him apart from many other drivers. 

Having had no. 1 on his car for two years, this season he has had to settle for no.3, which immediately ties with what he's on the verge of achieving this season. A third world title. The Swede has always been aware of the challenges he would face this season, but admits it would be a dream come true should he win the title with Kristoffersson Motorsport (KMS). 

“That was our aim for the season, but we knew it going to be tough. It’s a very different atmosphere within our private family-based team compared to PSRX which was a much bigger team, and with two cars,” he said. “But winning the title with my boys from KMS would be so cool and a dream come true since we started with rallycross back in 2013.”

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Championship.

Earlier this month, the penultimate round of the World RX championship at Spa-Francorchamps was canceled due to an increase in Coronavirus cases in Belgium, which means with only one round remaining in the World RX championship in Germany (in December). 

And, with one round remaining and 30 points up for grabs. The championship leader, Johan only requires four points to be crowned champion for the third time. 

It’s not within a racing driver's DNA to let off the gas one little bit. And, despite being within arms reach of the 2020 title, he still aims to approach the season finale with a winning mentality. He will go “Flat out! With an aim to finish on a high!” Ending this season on a high will lay strong groundwork for the season to come. 

With all the challenges in the world this year, in life, there are always changes, but one we didn’t quite expect was the announcement that World RX promoters, IMG would be stepping away from the series at the end of the 2020 season. 

IMG laid the groundwork for a very successful championship since 2013, one that allowed fans from across the world to gain free access to events via live streaming, gain great access to the drivers, and more, which is so hard to come by in many other motorsport series. 

If and when a new promoter does take over the World RX championship, Johan Kristoffersson would like to see the promoter get rid of the random qualifying draw. “Well, I’ve never liked the random draw, I just don’t like random,” he said. “Other than that I think the sport itself doesn’t need many changes.”

The world is going green, and so will World RX as it switches from internal combustion engines to electric powertrains in 2022. A change that will take some time for diehard petrolheads to get used to, but Johan has offered the new promoters some advice on how they should approach the development of the cars, etc. as they usher in a new era of World RX.

“If and when it goes electric, I think it's very important that the cars should be extreme, difficult for the drivers to control and faster than current cars,” he adds. “With the lack of anti-lag sound, the fans need something extra to make it exciting!”

Written By – Junaid Samodien

In collaboration with The Pitcrew Online.   

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Spa World RX of Benelux CANCELLED due to the resurgence of the coronavirus.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition
The next round of the World Rallycross Championship, the Spa World RX of Benelux in Belgium has been cancelled due to the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, the organisers announced.

The cancellation comes after news broke that the penultimate round of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship was cancelled due to the resurgence of the coronavirus. 

Spa's World RX of Benelux was originally set to take place in May, before it was moved to October and then to November with an aim to allow a bigger audience to attend the penultimate round of the championship. 

However, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in Belgium and Europe, the organizers announced last week that the event will be held behind closed doors, but it has now changed following the cancellation of the championship round at Spa-Francorchamps. 

"The current health situation in Belgium and throughout Europe has forced the organisers into taking this joint decision," the statement issued by the circuit said. "The Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, IMG, and the FIA are in fact very mindful of the progression or development of the pandemic and the extremely tense situation in the hospitals."

"Furthermore, the various restrictive measures taken recently by several governments, such as those relating to travel, make the situation extremely complicated for holding the Spa World Rallycross of Benelux."

Spa-Francorchamps joined the World Rallycross Championship in 2019 and quickly became a fan favorite with its wide banked dirt hairpin and use of the legendary Eau Rouge/Raidillon. 

Whilst Timur Timerzyanov claimed his first-ever win in the world championship, ahead of Andreas Bakkerud and Joni Wiman.  

"This decision is related to an exceptional situation and even if this saddens all the teams who have worked so hard to hold this second edition, announced last week moreover to be held behind closed doors following the deterioration in the public health situation, our priority is and will remain the health of safety of everyone," Nathalie Maillet, the Circuit CEO, said.

In addition to the cancellation announcement, the circuit has also announced that it expects to host the second edition of the Spa World RX of Benelux on May 22-23, 2021. 

The cancellation of the penultimate round of the season means that the final round of the 2020 World RX season is expected to take place at the Nürburgring in December (later this year). 

This in turn means that with a maximum of 30 points available for the final round of the championship, that should Johan Kristoffersson outscore Mattias Ekstrom by four points, he will be crowned a three-time World Champion. 

Whilst KYB Team JC (with a 16 point lead) would seal the teams' championship in Germany should they finish ahead of the Team Hansen. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Monday, 26 October 2020

The World RX of Benelux to be held behind closed doors.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX.
The World RX of Benelux set to be held at Spa-Francorchamps will be held behind closed doors, the event organizers have announced.  

World RX first visited Spa-Francorchamps in 2019 and quickly became a fan favorite with its wide banked dirt corner and Eau Rouge hairpin. 

The circuit was originally set to host the third round of the 2020 calendar, but the date was later moved to October due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

In September, the event organizers and IMG announced that the Belgian round would be moved in hopes that delaying the round until November would allow more spectators to attend the event. 

Organizers say that following decisions made by Belgian Authorities, the event will be held behind closed doors due to current circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, despite hopes of welcoming the largest possible audience to the event next month. 

"Following the decisions of the Belgian Authorities, we will unfortunately not be able to welcome you during the 2020 edition of the Spa World Rallycross of Benelux which will be held behind closed doors," the event organizers statement said.

"This is a huge disappointment for the Spa World Rallycross of Benelux team, whose primary motivation has always been to welcome the largest possible audience and to offer them the best possible experience."

"Our number one priority remains everyone’s health! But given the current circumstances, the organisation of this event under regular conditions is impossible."

"Holding the race behind closed doors was therefore the only solution authorized by the Belgian authorities to preserve the sporting aspect of our event."

Spa-Francorchamps will now host the penultimate round of the 2020 World Rallycross Championship season, with the Nürburgring hosting the finale in December.

For more information on ticket refunds, etc. CLICK HERE

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Team Hansen hails 'big step' after win and double podium in Catalunya.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull/Hansen Motorsport
Reigning team champions Team Hansen has taken a big step in Barcelona having claimed their first win and first double podium of the season. 

The 2020 season has ebbed and flowed for the Swedish team, and in the early stages of the season they struggled to find traction on low grip circuits, but despite that their drivers claimed three podium finishes before heading to the World RX of Barcelona (double-header). 

With no wins to there record after a strong championship winning 2019 season, returning to winning ways was there ultimate objective, and following extensive testing prior to the final double-header of the season. The Team Hansen brought some valuable knowledge and updates with them, which provided to work on the 1.133 km track

The Hansen brothers were in the mix all weekend, and on Saturday afternoon reigning champion Timmy Hansen "beat the unbeatable" to register his first win of the season ahead of Johan Kristoffersson and Kevin Hansen. The 'brodium' was on!

Whilst some cynics might have thought it would be a one-off for the Hansen's on Saturday. They were wrong, the Hansen's were back and just as strong on Sunday for round 8 of the World RX championship, but this time with Kevin Hansen ahead of Timmy in the intermediate rankings in third and fourth respectively. 

Sunday saw Timmy claim his second piece of silverware, having finished second in round eight of the World RX season finishing behind Johan Kristoffersson this time around after beating him a day before. 

"It's been a fantastic weekend with a massive step-up in performance for both me and Kevin. We are fighting for wins now which feels great. Yesterday [Saturday] we got it, today [Sunday] not quite, but it's still been a great weekend and I'm happy that the work that we've done in the lead-up to this weekend has paid off," Timmy Hansen said.

"We had great pace today but the race didn't quite go in our favour. I wasn't lucky enough to have any pole position starts today which wasn't ideal so qualified fourth, though I was hoping to beat Bakkerud in the semi-final, even with older tyres, to get myself that all-important front row grid slot."

"The final was carnage. I came up behind Johan and it was the same battle again from Saturday but this time around I couldn't quite manage it," he adds. "The only way to win was to put in a perfect run and I didn't quite put together a string of perfect laps in the final; I wasn't quite able to find that perfect rhythm from the day before."

After a third-place finish a day before, Kevin continued his strong form edging older brother in the intermediate rankings having claimed two second-place finish in Q2 and 3. Whilst his pace was quite promising all weekend, his day would end in the semi-finals. 

The semi-finals saw a very crowded first corner which meant Kevin was shuffled back to fifth place at the start, though he quickly recovered to fourth at turn three, sneaking past Timo Scheider on the inside of the long right-hander.

An early joker to find clear air didn't quite pan out as he caught Tamás Kárai a lap later and, while a brilliant overtake exiting turn six put him into fourth place, too much time was lost to Robin Larsson who held the last spot for the final.

"Today was a very promising day. The car performance was amazing in all three qualifying sessions and I was feeling really comfortable with the adjustments the team had made overnight. My speed was much better today so I was very happy with everything in that respect," Kevin Hansen said.

"We had a bit of a bad start in the semi-final but I felt we were in a good position by jokering first. That's a good place to be, first into the joker, so it was looking promising. Unfortunately, Karai had gone for the complete opposite strategy to us so getting past him lost us the time we needed to make the final."

"Overall this was a very strong weekend, a great return to form, and I feel like I'm getting better every weekend," he adds. "For the first time this year, I was within sight of a victory, and I don't plan to let it out of my sight again for the rest of the year. I'm even more excited to be heading to Spa now with the momentum we've built here, with the team back to winning ways."

With a win and two podium finishes in two days, Team Hansen's quest to retain the teams' championship is back on track. Heading to Barcelona with a 43-point deficit to KYB Team JC, Timmy and Kevin's efforts has narrowed that gap to only 16 points, with two rounds in Belgium and Germany still to go.

Timmy has also leap-frogged Niclas Grönholm to third in the drivers' championship having been six points behind heading into Barcelona. The Swede now has a 16 point advantage over Niclas with two rounds to go, meanwhile Kevin has inched closer to Grönholm and is just 12 points behind sitting fifth in the championship standings. 

"What was most impressive on Sunday was Kevin's level of performance increasing further," Kenneth Hansen, team boss said. "In past years he was slightly behind Timmy's pace but now he's at exactly the same level; sometimes even quicker. So we have two really quick drivers and cars. Today he found the level he's normally capable of delivering."

"Our win yesterday seems to have made Johan even hungrier to make sure he didn't get beaten to victory! He was clearly very determined to make sure Timmy didn't win in the final again today. But having one race like yesterday's final, where Timmy put in an absolutely perfect drive, is still a fantastic performance. My voice is almost gone from pushing Timmy so much on the radio!"

After a challenging start to the season, Kenneth Hansen says his team is back in the game to defend their teams' title, and they will continue to push with an aim to leap-frog KYB Team JC in the standings.

"We're back in the game for the teams' world championship now and we'll be doing everything we can to catch the Audis in the title race," Kenneth warns. "I believe with the direction we're going in and what we've learned this weekend will also help us in Spa. Now we've made a big step for this weekend, finding the next bit of pace will be even harder, as the rate of return on testing gets smaller and we're also quite late into the season now. Plus we need good weather! But we'll do some more testing and see what we find. We never stop pushing!"

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Clutch issues hampers KYB Team JC's push for strong results in Barcelona.

PHOTO CREDIT: JC Raceteknik.
Mattias Ekström's hopes of clinching a second World Rallycross Championship stalled after a challenging weekend at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona plagued with clutch issues, whilst teammate Robin Larsson had a troublesome weekend, as he was involved in a number of on track incidents.

Having taken two wins in 2020, at Holjes and Riga, and finishing P2 three times. The 2016 champion had high hopes for the fourth and final double-header at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona having won in 2016 and 2017 and crossed the finish line first in 2018 until he was handed a penalty for contact with Petter Solberg at the first corner. 

Heading into the weekend Ekström had a clear plan, and that was to reduce Johan Kristoffersson's championship lead to single digits, but that plan slipped out the window with a jump start in Q1 due to a clutch issue seeing him finish the session in tenth overall.  

Q2 saw Mattias climb up the rankings to sixth, with a further improvement in Q3 seeing him finish behind Kristoffersson, Timmy Hansen, and Andreas Bakkerud. In the semi-final, the Swede finished behind Kristoffersson and progressed to the final where he would finish in fourth place. 

Hard work overnight by the EKS-supported team on Saturday improved the pace of the Audi S1s for round eight on Sunday. Mattias was on a mission and won two qualifying sessions to take 16 championship points for being the top qualifier, and he would start on pole position for the semi-finals. He finished second in the semi-final and was in contention for a podium finish until he made an error at the final corner and spun off the track, handing third place to Anton Marklund. 

After a second-place finish on Saturday (round 7) and a win at round 8 of the championship, Kristoffersson has increased his championship lead to 27 points with two rounds remaining. Mattias needs to ensure that Johan does not outscore him by four points in Belgium to keep his hopes of clinching a second title alive. 

"We came here with the hope of having a good weekend as I like the track and so on, but we struggled quite a lot with starts, with the clutches especially, so that was the main topic of the weekend for Robin and myself," Ekström said. "That was for sure not nice and when you’re focusing on a problem, you also reduce the effort to try and work on the setup. I think we came a bit on the back foot on fine-turning the car, and never really got the momentum going."

"You can only say congratulations to Johan Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen for winning this weekend, they did a better job and we just need to get our heads down, sort out our issues and come back stronger."

Things weren't any better for Ekström's teammate Robin Larsson. Despite posting the fourth-fastest time in Q1, his front right suspension broke seeing him dive nose-first into the tyre barriers after the jump in Q2. And, with a repaired car, he posted the ninth-fastest time in Q3, which wasn't enough to see him progress to the semi-finals. However, KYB Team JC had other plans, as Enzo Ide (JC Raceteknik) made the cut for the semi-finals, he was withdrawn "due to a technical issue", and Larsson would take his place as the first reverse. 

Larsson did not have a good start in the semi-finals, and unfortunately, he was unable to gain the spot required to progress to the finals. He'd have to take an early shower and refocus for round eight. 

Whilst his teammate topped qualifying on Sunday, the double European Rallycross Champion found himself in seventh overall behind Johan Kristoffersson. 

He then finished just behind Ekström in the semi-finals to make the final, then had a good start, but his race ended when he hit Andreas Bakkerud who had been spun at the first corner. 

"On Saturday we were all struggling a bit, we didn’t find the pace, especially for Mattias who was at the top all day but he couldn’t find the last little bit. That’s the bad thing about a double-header weekend, sometimes it takes a whole race in one day to find the answers," Larsson said. "We started Sunday really good but I jumped into a hole in qualifying and got a puncture. In Q3 the clutch was overheating, I think we found every bit of bad luck we could this weekend." 

"The car felt really good, I had a good start in the semi-finals and I was able to be careful for the last three laps, then in the final, I had a really good start but I had nowhere to go when the cars came together in front of me. Hopefully, we have our bad luck out of the way now."

With two rounds of the 2020 World RX championship in Belgium and Germany, KYB Team JC maintains the lead in the teams' championship standings despite Team Hansen reducing the lead to 16 points. 

"It’s been a really, really difficult weekend. Saturday was bad for us, we didn’t have the pace at all and it felt like we almost didn’t earn the speed we had. We really had to work hard on Saturday night and did a good job," Joel Christoffersson, KYB Team JC and JC Raceteknik Team Principal said. "As we have done every weekend it seems we find something on the night after the first race in these double-headers sadly."

"We did some good things and found the speed. Mattias was top qualifier and Robin was P7 in the Intermediate on Sunday, but in the semi-finals we lost the pace a bit against Johan Kristoffersson. I feel sad for Robin for what happened in the first corner of the final, and that we had a problem so Mattias didn’t finish on the podium."

"Team Hansen has done a good job this weekend and caught us a lot in the Teams’ championship, so we really need to re-focus and go to Spa aiming to do some good," he concludes.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Bakkerud "really, really happy" with results in Barcelona despite first corner exit.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.
The 2020 World Rallycross Championship was always going to be an uphill challenge for Andreas Bakkerud (the 2019 vice-champion) having switched from EKS run Audi's to GC Kompetition. 

Having tested the Renault Megane R.S. RX in Cape Town in 2018, he might have had an idea of its performance, but it always takes time to learn the new machinery. But straight off the bat, Bakkerud claimed some good results and even progressed to the finals on two occasions but never truly had the ability to challenge for a win or even a podium due to a lack of performance and mechanical issues with the Megane.

But things would soon take a turn for the better following a test after a Latvian double-header in France, which saw Bakkerud return for form in Barcelona. Whilst Saturday (round 7) wasn't the easiest for the Norwegian, he did however make the final, but was hampered by power steering issues and ended the day in sixth overall. 

On Sunday morning, Andreas registered the ninth-fastest time in the morning warm-up session ahead of Q1, where he would finish behind Mattias Ekstrom and conclude the session in fifth overall. 

And, as the day progressed the Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel driver just got faster and faster. Q2 saw the Norwegian hold off Johan Kristoffersson to win the heat and claim a third-place finish overall.

That's not all folks, Andreas went on to beat the likes of Mattias Ekstrom, Johan Kristoffersson, and the Hansen brothers in Q3, which saw him leap-frog Timmy Hansen and seal pole position in the semi-final. Guess what? He won semi-final 2 by 0.478 seconds ahead of Timmy Hansen. 

Whilst Johan Kristoffersson won the other semi-final from the second row of the grid, he would line-up alongside Andreas for the final. 

Both Andreas and Johan started the final with two new front tyres and as the lights went out Johan appeared to have a better start. While Andreas inched closer heading into turn one. Thinking he was clear, Kristoffersson cut in front of Bakkerud sending him into the tyre barrier, he spun around and was hit quite hard by Robin Larsson who had nowhere to go, his race was over from there. 

It's a question of what could have been? But Andreas is quite pleased with his results in Barcelona despite the first corner exit in the final. 

"Generally, I’m really, really happy about the result this weekend," he said. "Who would’ve thought after the difficulties we faced at the start of the season that we would be here today, on pole position in the final ahead of Johan Kristofferson."

"We even had Johan on reaction time at the start of the final! The squeeze came really suddenly and Robin had nowhere to go but that’s the way it goes sometimes."

Yet to win a race this season, Andreas admits that he really wanted to win in Barcelona, but won't give up on his pursuit of glory in the GCK prepared Renault Megane R.S. RX. 

"I wanted this win really badly and I’m not giving up now," Bakkerud adds. "We did everything we could this weekend and I’m really proud of the entire team and everyone involved both here and back at home. Thank you!"

Written By - Junaid Samodien.

GRX Taneco rues lack of grip at Barcelona double-header.

PHOTO CREDIT: GRX Taneco
It was a weekend to forget for GRX Taneco who was struggling with a lack of grip at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona.

The Finnish squad had high expectations for the final double-header of the season in Barcelona after finding some improvements after the Latvian double-header, but they were soon brought down to reality with Timur Timerzyanov bowing out in the semi-finals at round seven (on Saturday).

And, while it looked a bit better for Niclas Grönholm who made the final. He finished in fourth place and admitted that his Hyundai i20 was lacking grip. 

Whilst Saturday did not bring the desired results, GRX Taneco worked into the night to analyze why they were lacking grip and make the necessary changes for Sunday's round, but unfortunately, both GRX Taneco drivers were still struggling with grip and were unable to match the pace of their rivals. 

Despite lacking grip, Grönholm admits that the team has taken a step forward with race starts (launches), and he believes that he had the right tire strategy, but he was unable to make use of it. 

"We had good starts and I must say that is a big step forward from where we were at the beginning of the season, but out on the track we still struggled with the grip," he said. "I think we were also very good on the tire strategy, but just couldn’t take the advantage of it."

"Now it will be a long break before we go to Belgium, and I really hope we can find a solution and be more competitive in the next race."

Missing the draw on Saturday evening for round eight, Timur started his day off in Q1 Race 1 where he finished behind Robin Larsson and was sixth overall with two qualifying sessions to go. 

Whilst leading Q2 Race 3 in the early stages, he did not have the pace to match the likes of Kristoffersson and Bakkerud. And, would finish behind his teammate Niclas in fourth seeing him drop a position in the overall standings to P7 overall. 

Q3 saw the GRX Taneco drivers both have great launches, but Anton Marklund had other plans and led the race into turn 1/2, while Timo Scheider also got the best of the duo, which meant Timur would finish behind his teammate once again. 

In the semi-finals, the Russian made it through the first corner last, and despite a first lap joker he was only able to jump Enzo Ide to finish in fifth-place where his weekend would end. 

"It was a tough race today [Sunday] and the track evolution didn’t make my day any easier," Timerzyanov said. "At some moments we were able to deliver, but overall we are not where we want to be and we need to work on finding the overall pace."

Jussi Pinomäki, the GRX Taneco Team Manager says despite reaching a new low, the only way is up, and his team will use the month break between Barcelona and Belgium to bring the team back to the top again. 

"It’s not a simple sport and I guess that’s what makes it so attractive. Everyone has their ups and downs, and at the moment we are quite down," Pinomäki said. "But it means that there is only one way to go from here - and that is up. Everyone in the team is working really hard to bring us back at the top and now we have one month to do it."

After eight races of the season, Niclas Grönholm is currently fourth and Timur Timerzyanov tenth in the drivers’ standings, while the GRX Taneco squad hangs onto third in the teams' standings.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Monday, 19 October 2020

"I couldn't be happier" as Kristoffersson takes a step closer to third World RX title.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX 
Johan Kristoffersson took firm control of the World RX Drivers' Championship with a win at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona on Sunday.

The two-time champion has had a weekend of ups and downs, but through bumper bashing adversity, he stood up and fought back. Despite being the top qualifier and winning his semi-final. The Swede did not have it easy with the resurgence of the Team Hansen and a strong Andreas Bakkerud. 

He was involved in hard battles all Saturday, including a great fight in the final where Timmy Hansen challenged Johan through the first corner. Hansen went on to win ahead of the Swede who finished second. 

The contact with Hansen at the first corner saw Johan shed some bodywork including his front bumper. 

"That made the car a bit understeery, which is evident on this track. But I'm happy with 27 points. You don't lose the title on a performance like that," Kristoffersson said.

The draw for round eight on Sunday indicated an even tougher mission for the double world champion, and so it was. From difficult starting positions, he was only fifth overall after the three qualifying rounds, meaning he would start on the second row for the semi-finals. 

"No matter what we did, we ended up behind someone. It was frustrating," said Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS boss Tommy Kristoffersson.

However, Johan turned his fortune around. With a very good launch in the semi-finals, he slotted in behind Mattias Ekström. He jokered on the third lap and managed to pass Ekström for a win.

"That joker strategy was absolutely perfect," Johan said.

Starting on the outside of Andreas Bakkerud on the front row of the final. He had another great launch and was a full car length clear before braking for turn one. However, there was contact in the first corner, which ended Bakkerud's race and despite crossing the finish line first. Johan was under investigation for the incident and was later cleared of any wrongdoing by the FIA Stewards.  

"I was a bit worried but I would have been disappointed with another decision from the judges. Johan was ahead of Andreas with the length of a car," Tommy Kristoffersson said.

Having clinched his fourth win of the season, Johan has now taken a step closer to a third FIA World Rallycross Championship having increased his lead in the championship by 27 points. Should he outscore Mattias Ekström in Belgium, he would seal the title with a round to go. 

"I'm so satisfied. I couldn't be happier than this," the championship leader added.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Hard work pays off as Marklund claims podium in Barcelona thriller.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.
Anton Marklund says Bilstein's hard work has paid off at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona after a challenging first half of the season. 

With a glimpse of pace in the season opener in Holjes, Marklund appeared to be a regular contender for a spot in the finals, but unfortunately, as the season progressed he would only be a regular in the semi-finals. 

Following on from the Latvian double-header in September, Bilstein and GC Kompetition studied data, conducted some tests, and found some good improvements. 

And, while testing results can bring some high expectations, GCK Bilstein were on the money in Barcelona with Anton just missing out on a place in the finals by 1 second on Saturday afternoon. After round seven, the Swede admitted that with some overnight fine-tuning he could claim a good result on Sunday. 

The GCK driver started his first qualifier on Sunday morning on the outside (of turn one) alongside Timo Scheider, Tamas Karai, and Niclas Gronholm.

Fourth through the first corner wasn't the best way to start the day, but he chased down the leader, and with an alternate strategy, he jokered on the last lap and powered alongside Timo Scheider who defended the inside line blocking Marklund and he would finish in P3 (10th overall). 

The second qualifier saw Marklund drop into second behind Scheider having been squeezed into turn 1. He gained position into second on lap 3 before overtaking Timo Scheider on the last lap to take the chequered flag, moving up seventh overall.

For the final qualifier, he started on pole, and while Gronholm and Timerzyanov had a much better launch he fought back to take the lead on lap 3 and he hung on from there to cross the checkered flag and stamp his pass into the semi-finals. 

Starting from the second row of semi-final 2, Anton had a clean start and took the inside line slotting into third after turn 1. He maintained the position and pushed ahead to create enough distance to join the pack in fourth following his joker in lap 3. He crossed the final line in third, which meant he would have a third-row spot on the grid for the final.

With no new tyres for the final, he was at a slight disadvantage, and with a reasonable start, he managed to avoid the first corner melee involving GCK stablemate Andreas Bakkerud and Robin Larsson to slot into P3. With a first lap joker, he was right on the rear of Ekstrom and began pilling on pressure. As Ekstrom spun off the track, Marklund claimed third where he would finish, successfully claiming his first podium of the 2020 season with GCK Bilstein. 

"I’m really really happy for all of GCK and Bilstein," Marklund said. "While I was at home trying to relax and doing analysis in between races, they’ve worked super hard at the workshop and the factory to bring us a race-ready car with significant improvements since Finland RX."

"I’m just so happy that they’ve made it work and they now have a car that races extremely well and is fully back on pace. We just have to build on this now and we have a race win in us still." 

Written By - Junaid Samodien