Monday, 26 July 2021

KYB EKS JC not entirely satisfied despite podium finish in Catalunya.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
Three-time World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson was the man to beat in the Catalan heat having set the pace throughout the weekend and claimed a podium in his first start with the KYB EKS JC team, despite disqualification from the first qualifier.

The 32-year-old set the fastest time in the first free practice session of the season and then won both Q1 and Q2 on Friday evening. However, a problem with a cable connecting the FIA data logger led to disqualification from the Q1 race, leaving him down in 15th overnight.

Could Kristoffersson fight back on Saturday? He sure did. The Swede set another pair of fastest times, climbing to sixth overall to secure a second-row spot on the grid for the semi-finals. 

The second place in the semis was followed by a battle for race victory in the final, where Kristoffersson finished third. 

"I had a big fight back after the penalty, but we were the fastest in all qualifying rounds and set the fastest lap time in the final," Kristoffersson said. "The team has worked really hard and the car has been a dream to drive. Unfortunately, we could not finish on top this time, but we had great pace and I really enjoyed driving the Audi."

After round one, Kristoffersson lies third in the drivers’ standings, nine points off the lead.

"Now we just have to keep pushing. Even if you are fast on the track, there is a lot that can happen in rallycross, as we have seen," he adds. "This was the first round and even though we were very fast here, it’s important to continue working on every detail and always develops."

"Things change quickly and I need more time in the car to work with the team to find exactly the right setup for all conditions. But, I already know that the car's performance is very, very good and we look forward to Höljes."

Johan's teammate Enzo Ide, racing in his first full World RX season had a decent pace, winning a qualifying heat race. However, a crash in Q4 meant that even though he made it onto the semi-final grid, he retired from the race.

"It hasn’t been an easy event for me," Ide admits. "I had some technical problems in Q1 and Q2, which the team fixed for Q3. Then in Q4, I crashed out, hard. I drove a little too aggressively, charged too hard over the jump and something in the car broke. The guys did an incredible job to fix big damage at the front of the car to enable me to start the semi-finals, but after a few laps the car lost power and I had to stop."

"Overall I'm happy with the speed, but I'm still struggling to put all the pieces together."

The 30-year-old Belgian driver admits that having Johan Kristoffersson as a teammate is a dream come true. 

"It’s difficult to compare with Johan, he is, in my opinion, the best rallycross driver we have ever seen and puts all the details together, always," he said. "Having him as a teammate is a dream come true. Even though it was his first race in the car, he is incredibly fast, and he helps me develop and feel more comfortable in the car."

The Swedish squad leaves round one of the FIA World Rallycross Championship third in the teams' standings. 

Joel Christoffersson (team principal) admits that a third-place for Kristoffersson was "not what we wanted considering the speed" but admits after the disqualification from Q1, his team can be "very happy" with the result. 

"Johan was unstoppable on track in qualifying and it feels very sad not to fight for the victory in the way we wanted. Even if what happened wasn’t our fault, we are of course responsible and must take the consequences," Christoffersson said.

As for Enzo Ide, Christoffersson was happy with his performance over the course of the weekend despite a crash in Q4. 

"The semi-final was his goal this weekend, so we have to be happy with that. Both Johan and Enzo have shown that they are fast, and the whole team really can’t wait for the next race in Höljes," he said.

"It feels really good to have shown the speed like this in the season-opener and Johan is feeling more and more at home in the car. Now we have some stuff to perfect and will be ready to fight on in Höljes."

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