Despite setting the pace in round three of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Lohéac, technical problems cost Johan Kristoffersson a place in the final, notwithstanding a herculean effort by the team's mechanics.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
The three-time World Champion lead from the front setting the two fastest times in qualifying on course to secure the Top Qualifier position in the Intermediate Rankings.
In pole position for the first semi-final, Kristoffersson led into turn one and looked set for a race win, but with one lap remaining problems with a driveshaft on the Audi S1 Quattro dropped him down to third.
Returning to the paddock, it was then discovered that the gearbox was also damaged and needed to be replaced before the final. The mechanics worked hard to get the car ready for the final and after a heroic effort managed to change the gearbox in just 16 minutes, but unfortunately, it was not enough. The car arrived at the pre-grid one minute too late, which meant Kristoffersson was denied a start in the final.
"What a weekend. It started well, we were fast and I felt comfortable in the car. We had a good tyre strategy and in Q4 we tested some new settings to be ready for the semi-finals, which we were very happy with. We chose to start the semi with four new tyres, I had a good start, took the lead and the car felt really, really good. I managed the pace to save the tyres for the final, but on the last lap, at the end of the first corner, the driveshaft broke. I tried to survive through the last lap and managed to finish third," Kristoffersson said.
"Before the final, we needed to change the driveshaft, and because the gearbox was also damaged, the team decided to change it as well. It was very short on time, and it should really be impossible to change a gearbox in that time. But the guys did a fantastic job and managed to change it. But when we reached the starting area, we were seconds too late, and we were not allowed to start in the final.
"Of course it was a real shame. We have not had the margins on our side so far this season and even though the season is long, it is tough in the championship table now. But of course, we will only continue to focus on the future, reload and be ready to fight in Riga."
His team-mate Enzo Ide had a tough weekend, in which he didn’t find the perfect rhythm on track and faced challenges with the tyres (on the abrasive circuit).
In the semi-finals, he appeared set to progress to the final in third, but he lost time in traffic and just missed out on a place in the final.
"My weekend was really tough. We needed to change the setup a lot to make the car fit me on this track and at first, I didn’t get it where I wanted. I made a few mistakes and it was also a tough challenge not to run out of tyres too fast But, I learned during the weekend and at the end, I was able to adapt my driving to the car and the circuit. In the semi-finals, the car was a rocket but unfortunately, it was not enough for the final," Ide said.
"So I am happy to have learned a lot this weekend with the team and will continue to work moving forwards."
Despite the disappointment of missing out on the final, Kristoffersson has moved up to fourth in the championship standings, with Enzo Ide in seventh.