Defending FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson showcased his exceptional skills once again as he claimed an emphatic victory at the World RX of Sweden in Höljes last weekend, marking his third consecutive win.
Kristoffersson leads the field in wet/muddy conditions.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
The Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS driver's dominant performance, saw him set the fastest lap, win all four heats, his semi-final, and the all-important final to extend his lead in the championship by 27 points, making him a strong contender for a sixth-world title.
"It's never easy and this weekend there were super difficult conditions, but it turned out to be the almost perfect weekend for me," he said. "I think this track might be the trickiest one to drive in the wet, but it’s also very rewarding when you get it right and we had great pace and good starts throughout, which was key. It’s always nice to win, of course, but to do so in Sweden in front of such a big crowd and with my family here is extra special."
The reigning champion credits his team for providing him with a fantastic car: "A big thanks to the team for a fantastic car that is easy to adapt to various conditions."
Kristoffersson took the chequered flag more than four seconds clear of closest pursuer Timmy Hansen. The 2019 world champion bounced back after a string of disappointing results in the opening two rounds at Montalegre and Hell to secure his first trophy of the season, getting the better of Ole Christian Veiby in the final to seal the runner-up spoils for Hansen World RX Team.
"So we’re doing everything we can to be winning again too. Johan [Kristoffersson] had another incredible weekend - when it started to rain today he just checked out. The battle for second though was super tight and Ole Christian [Veiby] just made a tiny error and I went on the inside. It just shows how small the margins are," Timmy Hansen said. "For the team, it’s fantastic to be back on the podium, especially considering they had to rebuild the car after the first two races. This reward is for them, and it feels like now I have started my championship."
Veiby completed the podium in third, pleased with his performance but ruing a couple of late mistakes.
"I think we have deserved more from the first two races so it's super nice to be back on the podium. I had a great launch in the final and came out as second, but made a little mistake to let Timmy pass," Ole Christian said. "I was 0,1 seconds behind Johan in superpole last time, and 0,07 here in Höljes. Next time maybe..."
Following a difficult start to the weekend with an error in the SuperPole session and an off-track excursion in heat one, Kevin Hansen wound up fourth, winning the second semi-final but losing time behind Timo Scheider in the final after running wide on the exit of the joker.
"In the dry we were improving a lot now that we have found something that’s more comfortable to drive. In the wet we made big steps also. It’s the first time we’ve used the latest software and car setup in the wet but I did a bad launch in the final, then the wipers and washers didn’t work correctly so I couldn’t properly see, and I made a mistake in the joker. The speed after that was great and I closed on P3 but needed another lap to be able to get on the podium," Kevin Hansen said.
Both Scheider and Guerlain Chicherit saw their efforts plagued by punctures. The German managed to reach the finish line in fifth for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, but in his first final appearance of the year, Chicherit was forced to park his Special ONE Racing Lancia Delta Evo-E RX on the second lap.
"When I started 5th in my semi-final, I had to take all the risks. At the red light, I counted to three and then dropped everything... And miraculously, it worked!" the Frenchman said. "The euphoria of being in the final only lasted 500 metres. It's a shame because I had a good rhythm on this muddy track. We still need to work on gaining confidence in our car, which is fast but very sensitive."
Neither Niclas Grönholm nor Klara Andersson progressed to the final on a frustrating weekend for CE Dealer Team by Volvo Construction Equipment.
"We struggled from start to finish this weekend, not much to say really," the Finn said. "It is a weekend to quickly forget. I am looking forward to a few weeks off, to recharge and come back stronger next time."
Whilst, it might have been a frustrating result for the team, Andersson admits the potential is there: "A tough weekend with a lot of ups and downs. It was fantastic to win the first heat, and it felt like a really good start to the weekend. Today it was raining all day, which was new for me with this type of car. So, there was a lot of learning. In the semi, it felt like we got the setup right, but unfortunately, I got a puncture. The potential is there, and we take a lot of lessons and important points with us from this weekend."
Nine-time FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb was another driver to exit proceedings at the semi-final stage. The Frenchman admits that it's quite challenging driving the Lancia Delta Evo-E RX, as small mistakes will be punished.
"I won a heat, which proves that we can be on the pace. Starting 3rd in my semi-final, I had a good chance of qualifying, but I made two small mistakes that cost me a place," he said. The car doesn't forgive mistakes and we need to find more confidence behind the wheel. We've learnt a few things this weekend."
KMS driver Gustav Bergström had a tough weekend, arriving on Sunday, having raced in Carrera Cup on Saturday, and with some technical issues in his first heat.
"Of course, it was difficult with the power steering issues, but my pace was good and I had the best lap time in one of my heats," Bergström said. "I was absolutely blind into the first corner of the semifinal. I tried my best all the way to get past Sébastien Loeb but it wasn't to be."
After three championship rounds, the FIA World Rallycross heads to the United Kingdom at the iconic Lydden Hill circuit for round four later this month (July 21-23).