SWEDISH STAR KRISTOFFERSSON MAKES IT FOUR FROM FOUR IN 2022
As he has had to do on every occasion so far this season, Johan Kristoffersson was forced to fight his way to the top step of the podium at Lusorecursos World RX of Portugal today (17 September) – but the Swede produced another consummate performance at Montalegre to maintain his unbeaten run in 2022.
At the scene of his maiden FIA World Rallycross Championship victory back in 2015 – and five years to the day since he clinched the first of his four Drivers’ crowns – Kristoffersson added a 31st career triumph to his extraordinary CV as he led home a commanding Kristoffersson Motorsport one-two ahead of Ole Christian Veiby.
It was a result that had looked somewhat unlikely only a few hours earlier. A brush with the wall in the joker in heat one left Veiby with a puncture that sent him into the barriers immediately after taking the chequered flag. The damage to his Volkswagen RX1e ruled the Norwegian out of heat two, and when Kristoffersson then picked up a double puncture in his progression race, KMS’ day looked to be falling apart.
Unleashing prodigious raw pace, however, the Scandinavian pair proceeded to win their respective semi-finals – both from the far outside of the grid – to earn the prime starting spots for the all-important final.
Despite light contact with a fast-starting Kevin Hansen – who tried to sweep around the outside into the lead – the two Bauhaus-backed VWs held sway at the front of the field at the exit of Turn One, and thereafter they would not be headed.
Kristoffersson duly took the chequered flag for his fourth straight success of World RX’s new electric era – extending his championship lead to 26 points in the process.
“What a day – just unbelievable!” reflected the 33-year-old. “Both Ole Christian and I had to fight back, which thankfully we managed to do. I was a bit worried after getting the punctures in the progression race, and that was on my mind in the final, so I was trying to play it as safe as I could.
“I’m really happy for Ole Christian to finish second after the way his day began, and for us to take a one-two finish on pure pace – with Gustav [Bergström] reaching the final again as well – was just fantastic.”
For Veiby, the runner-up spoils represented the finest finish of his career to-date and third podium from four starts on his return to the World Championship following a seven-year absence. Timmy Hansen rounded out the rostrum in third on a consistent day for Hansen World RX Team – posting fastest lap in the final after pulling off a superb pass on Bergström – just in front of younger brother Kevin in the sister Peugeot 208 RX1e.
Teenage rookie Bergström continued to impress with a fifth-place finish in the third KMS car, but there was disappointment for Construction Equipment Dealer Team. Both Niclas Grönholm – winner at Montalegre last year – and Klara Andersson showed a strong turn-of-speed around the Portuguese track, but missed out on the final after making contact with each other in the first semi-final.
TITLE PROTAGONISTS COME TO BLOWS IN EURO RX DUEL
The story of the day in Euro RX1 was a high-speed joker merge collision between championship contenders Anton Marklund and Jānis Baumanis in heat two, which delayed the former and put the latter out on the spot. That clash elevated the increasingly impressive Enzo Ide to the summit of the overnight standings ahead of the two title protagonists and experienced campaigner Ulrik Linnemann.
In Euro RX3, Jan Černý exploited his rallying experience on Montalegre’s gravelly surface with an exquisite performance to top the table in his little Škoda Citigo. Champion-elect Kobe Pauwels leads a gaggle of Audis in second, chased by the rapid Damian Litwinowicz and home hero João Ribeiro.
Tomorrow’s competitive action will begin with the World RX SuperPole session at 09:35 local time (10:35 CET), followed by the first race of the day at 11:10 local time (12:10 CET).