Thursday 16 November 2017

Kristoffersson dominates the Inaugural World RX event in South Africa

Johan Kristoffersson leading second place Mattias Ekström. 

PSRX Volkswagen Sweden driver, Johan Kristoffersson signed off the 2017 FIA World Rallycross championship in spectacular fashion by winning the inaugural 2017 Gumtree World RX of South Africa and entered the record books to become the first ever World RX driver to win an FIA sanctioned event in South Africa. It did not just end there for Kristoffersson; he set a new World RX record by winning seven out of 12 World RX events this season.

“It’s fantastic to wrap up the teams’ and drivers’ championship and to also take a win at the final round of the season,” says Johan Kristoffersson, 2017 FIA World Rallycross champion.

RX2 driver Cyril Raymond leading his Qualifying round.
The World RX event was not the only action on track. Frenchman Cyril Raymond won the RX2 season finale rounding off a near-perfect season by taking his sixth (of seven rounds) win of the season. British RX2 driver Dan Rooke rolled his car on lap two, causing the final race to be red-flagged. Rooke climbed out of his car unaided. Despite the rollover Rooke secured second in the RX2 Championship. Sondre Envjen and Tanner Whitten finished second and third in the finale at the Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town. Guillaume De Ridder claimed third in the 2017 RX2 championship.

The Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town was filled to near capacity for the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Championship event with more than 27 000 fans witnessing the season finales of both the World RX and RX2 Championships.

“I think we’ve won over a lot of new support during our first time in South Africa and the crowd really helped make this weekend a memorable event,” says Paul Bellamy, World Rx Managing Director for IMG.  

The 2016 FIA World RX champion, Mattias Ekström praised the enthusiasm of the South African fans. “The grandstands were full this weekend and the atmosphere and support from everyone here was amazing,” says Mattias Ekström.

Ashley-Haigh Smith stranded while Mark Cronje continues his charge.
South Africa had representatives in the inaugural FIA World RX event - Ashley Haigh-Smith and Mark Cronje. Cronje has extensive karting and rally experience but has limited experience in rallycross. Ashley Haigh-Smith amassed plenty of experience in the Junior World Rally Championship, and he is the only South African driver to have done so.

Mark Cronje and Ashley Haigh-Smith received incredible support on their World RX debuts but neither driver made the semi-finals. Ashley Haigh-Smith and Mark Cronje suffered with issues throughout the weekend. Mark Cronje retired from the lead of his race in Q2 on Saturday, due to propshaft failure while Ashley Haigh-Smith lead into Turn 2 on Sunday in Q4 but immediately retired due to a broken steering arm.

Kornel "CSUCSU" Lukacs on what would be his only run of the weekend.
Kornel “CSUCSU” Lukacs only took part in the Friday shakedown session in his lime green Kia Rio RX supercar and did not take part in any other session. The team were trying to prepare his Kia Rio RX supercar for qualifying on Saturday and Sunday, but it was not to be for the Hungarian driver.

South African fan favourite Ken Block topped qualifying on Saturday and said that his Hoonigan Racing Division, Ford Focus RX supercar suits the Killarney International Raceway circuit layout. Block launched off the line in the semi-final round and after some bumping and barging he led into Turn 2. Block entered the jump with significant damage to the front end of his Ford Focus RX. He won the semi-final round but was later DISQUALIFIED for being underweight; this would see him being replaced in the final by Peugeot-Hansen driver Kevin Hansen.

Drivers made their way to the grid for the FINAL in the Gumtree World RX of South Africa. Johan Kristoffersson started on pole position. The three green lights went out; Johan Kristoffersson had a perfect launch seeing him clear of the pursuing pack, with Mattias Ekström and Petter Solberg fighting for second in the FIA World RX Championship. Kevin Hansen retired at the start of the final with transmission issues.

As the laps ticked down Peugeot-Hansen’s driver Timmy Hansen played the right strategy and took the joker lap. He came out second ahead of Mattias Ekström and Petter Solberg.

Mattias Ekström held off a charging Petter Solberg to finish 3rd, Solberg finished 4th and Timo Scheider 5th in the final race of the season. 

The 2017 Gumtree Wolrd RX of South Africa - TOP 3 celebrating with champagne.
The 2017 Gumtree World RX of South Africa race winner, Johan Kristoffersson said: “I got a really good launch in the final and when I got clear space I was able to manage the gap back from Timmy (Hansen) and Mattias (Ekström), as well as manage the tyres well.”

TICKETS for the 2018 Gumtree World RX of South Africa are NOW ON SALE. The final round of the 2018 FIA World Rallycross championship will run from 24-25 November, 2018. To avoid any disappointment book your tickets early.

Written By: Junaid Samodien
Photo's By: Junaid Samodien

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