JOHAN KRISTOFFERSSON TAKES VICTORY IN THE FIRST DAY OF FERRATUM WORLD RX OF RĪGA-LATVIA
After close fight with the Hansen brothers, Johan Kristoffersson was the one to finish on the highest step of the Ferratum World RX of Rīga-Latvia podium in Biķernieki circuit. Meanwhile in FIA European Rallycross Championship, Latvian drivers Jānis Baumanis and Ronalds Baldiņš finished the first day on TOP 5, but Roberts Vītols showed his speed in RX2e class, taking second place after the first day of racing in Riga.
Close fighting started already in the SuperPole, where four-time World Champion Johan Kristoffersson with Volkswagen RX1e set the fastest time, beating another World Champion Timmy Hansen with Peugeot 208 RX1e car by 0.011 seconds.
Both champions were also fastest ones in the first qualifying Heat. Kristoffersson overtook his teammate Ole Christian Veiby on the first lap, and started to make advantage, taking win in his run. In the second race Hansen brothers were flying, but it was enough for only second and third place in overall results of first Heat, with Timmy finishing higher.
In the second qualifying Heat Kristoffersson lost places to Timmy Hansen and Niclas Gronholm in the start, going into the Joker lap on lap 1. The strategy didn’t work out as Timmy drove into Joker a lap later, still keeping his second position in front of Kristoffersson. Gronholm went into Joker lap on the last lap and, when returning to main track, he had a little contact with Hansen, but the Finn was able to keep the first place of the race. In overall results of second Heat Gronholm set only the second time, because Kevin Hansen, who raced in the other race of Heat 2, set a second faster time in free space of Biķernieki circuit.
In the Progression stage Hansen’s were starting side by side, but this time Kevin was faster. Brothers were able to beat Veiby, who finished in the third place, while Klara Andersson made a mistake, sliding off the track and losing almost 20 seconds. In the second Progression race first two places were taken by last year’s Riga event winners Kristofferson and Gronholm, while rookie Gustav Bergstrom was much faster than Rene Munnich in the fight for the third place.
Gronholm’s chances for a good result were destroyed in the semi-final. After a bad start, he stopped on the side of the track, while Kevin Hansen and Ole Christian Veiby secured a place in the final. Second semi-final started with a surprising start from Gustav Bergstrom, going into the lead of the race after first corners. Timmy Hansen and Johan Kristoffersson were trying to get past, but without success. Kristoffersson was the first one from the leaders to go into Joker lap, and the strategy paid off, because he was able to set very fast times in clear track and finish in the first place. Timmy Hansen was second, while Bergstrom also made it to the final.
In the final run of the day, both semi-final winners were able to get in front of the others. Kristoffersson felt that he has a speed advantage, so he went into Joker before Hansen. Tactic paid off and he took the lead. After their Joker’s, the younger brother Kevin was able to beat Timmy Hansen, with both of them finishing on the podium. Ole Christian Veiby and Gustav Bergstrom was left in fourth and fifth places respectively. This was second victory in a row for Kristoffersson, repeating the success from Norway.
“The team did an amazing job before the race, because car felt great from the start. Also teammates helped out, it really helps when you have three cars on the grid. It allows us to try different setups, especially knowing that all cars are new. For sure, I’m really happy to win in the second round of the season. We were pushing to maximum in Progression stage, because we tried to understand the cars better. Tyre degradation is not as big as last year, but we put two new tyres for the final. We didn’t have the best starts today, but we were able to show good speed on track,” says Johan Kristoffersson.
In the FIA European Rallycross Championship Euro RX1 class, home hero Jānis Baumanis was fastest in his race of the first Heat, taking the third result in overall, with only Enzo Ide and Sondre Evjen in the front. After a bad start, Ronalds Baldiņš showed his speed, taking the seventh place in overall results of Heat 1.
Both Latvian’s ended up in the same race of the second qualifying. This time Jānis Baumanis had a great start, which allowed to avoid from the close fights in the back of the pack. After winning the race, Baumanis set the second place in overall, losing only to the championship leader Anton Marklund. Baldiņš spent few laps behind the damaged car of Evjen, setting the fifth time in overall Heat results. After two Heats, Baumanis is in the third position, while Baldiņš is fifth, showing the speed of Latvian drivers.
“I’m not too happy about the performance on the track, especially about last 3 laps in each race, before the tyres started to overheat and slide too much. Despite that, we won both runs. There is still work to do, if we want to hope for a result like last year. I’m happy that we had a good starts this time, both times I left the first corner as a leader. We have to change some things in the setup, but we have a plenty of time left till the next run, so we will sit down and think what we can change. I want to say a massive thanks to all the supporters here, I could hear them after the finish,” Jānis Baumanis tells about his first day.
“In the first Heat we had a mistake in the start – the anti-lag didn’t turn on, but otherwise the race was good. I felt a little bit nervous, because I’m missing experience in this car. Driving with it is completely different than with buggy. It has a great handling and acceleration, but we still have some work to do with the starts. If you miss a start here, you are already at the back. The lap times are getting better and better, so, in the evening, we will sit down and have a chat with the team, and then we have to push tomorrow!” says Ronalds Baldiņš.
Roberts Vītols made his debut in the RX2e class, but the first start wasn’t that successful. He was trying to get past round the outside, but spun off, losing time. Latvian tried to catch drivers in front, but finished in fourth place. At least he set the fastest lap of his run. First qualifying Heat was won by Isac Sjokvist.
In the second Heat, Vītols got into the third place, but after a good Joker tactics, he was able to step a place up. In the overall standings after two qualifying Heats, Vītols is in the third place. Second heat was once again won by Isac Sjokvist.
“Electric car is much different than the internal combustion engine powered cars. There was a time I did this round the outside move here in Biķernieki, but today I was struggling with the rear of the car, which was sliding around all the time. This was the reason I spun and hit the wall. In the second race I didn’t had the best start, but I continued to follow other drivers, and got one place up with the Joker strategy. There is some consistency in the lap times, but we will continue to work with the setup, so we can fix the oversteering. We are third after two qualifying rounds, let’s continue to fight tomorrow. Everyone will work with the data tonight; we have to do more than everybody else!” tells championship rookie Roberts Vītols.
The FIA World Rallycross Championship doubleheader event Ferratum World RX of Rīga-Latvia in 2022 is possible thanks to the support provided by Latvian government, Ministry of Education and Science, Riga City Council, Education, Culture, and Sports Department of Riga City Council, title sponsor Ferratum, sponsor Ramirent and partner Road Traffic Safety Directorate.