Wednesday 12 December 2018

Slipstream SA chats to double World RX Champion Johan Kristoffersson.

The 2018 FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson celebrating his 11th win from 12 rounds
PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien
Two-time FIA World Rallycross Champion and record-breaker Johan Kristoffersson talks to Slipstream SA.

Incredible, mind blowing, masterful, superb, outstanding are a few words I'd use to describe Johan Kristoffersson

But, why do I use these words? Well to explain the use of these descriptive words lets take a look at his racing career.

The Swede started his racing career in 2008, and since then he has enjoyed a lot success in circuit racing with title wins in the International Superstars Series, Scandinavian Touring Car Championship (STCC) and the Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia. And, guess what he achieved these three titles in a single season (in 2012).

Kristoffersson made his Rallycross debut in 2013, in the FIA European Rallycross Championship. In 2014, the Swede made the full-time switch to the FIA World Rallycross Championship and claimed a 15th overall finish in his debut season.

In 2015 with Volkswagen Team Sweden, he won the World RX season opener in Portugal and claimed four more podiums [2 second places and 2 third place finishes] that season. He went on to claim third in the overall drivers standings that year. 

Success continued for the Swede in 2016 claiming a win in France and two podium finishes. With nine appearances in the finals, Kristoffersson clinched the runners-up spot behind Mattias Ekstrom (the 2016 Word RX champion). 

In 2017, Johan Kristoffersson teamed up with Petter Solberg in the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team, with two Volkswagen Polo Supercars.

One would never begin to imagine the success that awaited Kristoffersson in 2017. The Swede reached 11 of 12 finals and swept to a record-breaking seven victories in the season – including five-in-a-row, and he went on to claim the 2017 drivers’ title.

For 2018, Kristoffersson remained at PSRX Volkswagen Sweden with Volkswagen Motorsport factory support. 

Could the Swede defend his 2017 World RX title, with rivals Team Peugeot Total and EKS Audi Sport hot on his heels? 

At the season opener in Barcelona, Mattias Ekstrom [EKS Audi Sport] claimed victory in the season opener, but was later disqualified. Kristoffersson was handed the win. He then claimed victory in Portugal, but his winning streak was halted when Sebastien Loeb claimed victory in Belgium (round 3). 

With Loeb winning in Belgium... Would Kristoffersson claim another victory in 2018? The answer is rather simple: YES... he claimed nine-in-a-row and equaled Sebastian Vettel's Formula 1 record. 

The Swede was also competing in the 2018 Scandinavian Touring Car Championship (STCC) and clinched the title at the season finale. A few weeks later he successfully defended his 2017 World RX drivers' title. 

- 53 Events
- 310 Races
- 21 Event Wins
- 31 Podiums
- 57 Qualifying Heat Wins
- 42 Finals
- 116Total Points

Kristoffersson leading Qualifying 3.
PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien.
While the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team were waiting for their delayed freight to arrive in Cape Town. The team granted the opportunity to interview the double FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson

Junaid Samodien
What makes you, Johan Kristoffersson tick as a driver? What motivates you to be in this sport and motorsport in general? 

Johan Kristoffersson
First of all, I really like... I mean not only motorsport because I like sport in general. Not like i'm looking into sport. I'm not like a sport freak watching all the sport. I have been in cross country skiing before. 

I mostly like the competitive side of it, so really like to compete and I also enjoy to compete since I was really young. So, that's what I admire the most. The competition itself. And, then I mean Rallycross is a sport and its a fantastic sport. Action packed, really short and nice heats. So, that is what I really like with Rallycross. 

JS: What motivated you to become a racing driver? Would you say its your father? Or were there other influences?

JK: No, but I think he [Tommy Kristoffersson] was one the biggest, because I mean I was basically raised in the service area when he was racing. So, yeah for sure he was a big inspiration for me to start in motorsport because I was always interested in motorsport. I did some Motorcross when I was young and so-on. So, I have always been interested. 

JS: Autosport Magazine recently published an article suggesting that Rallycross is changing with more circuit racers finding there feet [becoming for successful] in World RX. Coming from a circuit background and recently claiming the STCC title. Does coming from a circuit racing background benefit you as a driver in World Rallycross?

JK: Yeah! I think its definitely a benefit coming from a circuit racing background that is for sure, because you learn a lot in circuit racing, but it also... I mean all the things that you learn in circuit racing, you can use for rallycross. But also coming from Rally, you can also learn a lot of things to use in Rallycross. 

So, its completely two different sides, but I think the circuit racing side has become a bigger advantage because the Rallycross tracks has been more and more towards concrete instead of gravel and so-on. So, that is why I think it benefits the circuit racing driver more. 

JS: What did it take for you to become so successful in circuit racing and World Rallycross?

JK: First of all, we have to have all the stuff around you. The team, car and all this stuff to make it possible to drive. 

But then from myself, I think its very important that I've always done a lot of work before hand on the events. So, I always try prepare myself - you know mentally, physically and try to do good preparation. And, I think that is what's made me where I am today.

JS: Based on your championship titles in Porsche Carrera Sweden, STCC and World RX. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

JK: I think it depends on what's happening with the Rallycross. How it will be when it goes towards electric, but if it comes to be a big sport in electric, I think I will still be in Rallycross. If the sport is not committed with manufacturers into electric, I think you will see me somewhere else. 

JS: So, if the EWRX does not attract you. Would you consider another series? DTM or Dakar Rally and so-on?

JK: We will see. I think circuit is for sure what is closest to me because of the kind of background I have, but I also like new challenges. Rally and I think other circuit racing - touring cars like I've done before, but its a question that I have to consider if the Rallycross does not happen. 

JS: If you could change one thing about the FIA World Rallycross Championship. What would it be and why?

JK: I think I would take away the grid position draw for Q1, and make it a qualifying instead. Otherwise, I think the format is perfect 

JS: Other racing drivers namely, Sebastian Vettel names his racing cars. Do you name your car?
Kristoffersson named his PSRX Supercar "Wilma"
PHOTO CREDIT: Volkswagen Motorsport

JK: Yes, Wilma. 

JS: What are your thoughts on the WERX [World Electric Rallycross]? Do you think World Rallycross will be affected by the fact that it will loose the loud/vibrating engine sound? Fans really love the high pitch sound of World Rallycross Supercars.

JK: Yes, for sure it will be different for the spectators onsite, but I mean its a small amount of the people watching it because most of the people are watching it on the TV. So, it will be different, but I think for the electric [RX Series] if there is going to be manufacturers committed to do electric. I think its going to be an upside for Rallycross because without the manufacturers Rallycross is not going to live on the level, which it is today. And, if it does not go electric there will be no manufacturers committing. So, its a give and take. 

Volkswagen Motorsport Fact: The chassis that Johan Kristoffersson has used in the 2017/18 World RX championship was used by Jari-Matti Latvala in the 2016 World Rally Championship. Since 2017, Johan named his car: "Wilma".

Thank You to Johan Kristoffersson for answering my questions. Also, a big thank you to Alison Fyfe-Turck [Fyfe PR] and PSRX Volkswagen Sweden for setting up the interview. 

Statistics and History Source: FIA World Rallycross Championship.
Interesting Fact and Image: Volkswagen Motorsport. 

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