Johan Kristoffersson delivered when it mattered in the final of Round 6 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship to score his fifth win of the season at the Benelux World RX of Spa-Francorchamps.
After setting the fastest time in the single-lap SuperPole shootout, the four-time World RX champion had to wait until the final before winning again – as the heats, progression race and semi-finals were all closely fought.
The final itself wasn’t an easy ride for the Kristoffersson Motorsport Volkswagen RX1e driver either, as he was second behind pole-sitter Timmy Hansen coming into the Raidillon hairpin for the first time.
A chain reaction under heavy braking saw Kristoffersson pushed into the back of Hansen, sending the unlucky Peugeot 208 RX1e pilot into a spin.
As Kristoffersson took the lead and Hansen’s victory hopes were dashed, it was Niclas Grönholm who was later found to be the culprit and given a five-second time penalty which dropped him to fifth, behind Hansen.
Second position went the way of Kevin Hansen, who was delayed by the Raidillon mêlée but who displayed good speed on another day of what might have been for Hansen World RX Team, as he won his progression race and pipped Kristoffersson to second at the semi-final stage.
There was overwhelming delight for Gustav Bergström who, in only his sixth World RX race, claimed his first podium finish in third.
The 19-year-old wasn’t sure he’d even made it through to the final – until Klara Andersson was disqualified from her semi-final race after being deemed at fault for a first corner collision which had put him and René Münnich out of the race.
Ole Christian Veiby’s stellar podium run came to an end as he failed to reach a final for the first time this year after a myriad of issues in his Volkswagen RX1e. He will be primed to fight back on the second day of the Belgian double-header on Sunday, when Round 7 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place.
“We started on a high and ended on a high,” reflected Kristoffersson.
“In-between, it was quite tricky. We didn’t get the best start in heat one, and from there we always seemed to be fighting from behind and with the lap times so tight, we didn’t quite have enough pace to make the difference with the joker strategy.
“I feel sorry for Timmy – he was in a winning position in the final and really didn’t deserve that. Going up to the hairpin, there was a bit of a train from behind and he got spun round. It wasn’t his day. It turned out to be my day, but obviously it’s a bit bittersweet. Most of all, I’m happy for Gustav – to finish on the podium so early in his World RX career is fantastic. Big congratulations to him.”
The FIA RX2e and Euro RX1 Rallycross Championships were also in action, with the weekend’s initial heats taking place.
Nils Andersson and Isak Sjökvist both won an RX2e heat each, while Patrick O’Donovan was a fast and feisty second quickest in both sessions. Championship leader Viktor Vranckx sits fourth after admitting to a few mistakes, including a brush with the joker lap wall.
Despite accusing himself of ‘not really pushing hard enough’, newly-crowned FIA European Rallycross champion Anton Marklund leads the way in Euro RX1, with Montalegre winner Enzo Ide just ahead of arch-rival Jānis Baumanis in the duel for the championship runner-up spoils.
Tomorrow’s competitive action will begin with the World RX SuperPole session at 09:35 CET, followed by the first race of the day at 11:10 CET.
All the action – including behind-the-scenes insights, driver interviews, in-depth expert analysis, drone shots, on-board cameras, highlights and much more – will be broadcast live on RX+
FINAL RESULT: World RX Round 6
1. Johan KRISTOFFERSSON (SWE) Kristoffersson Motorsport 5 laps
2. Kevin HANSEN (SWE) Hansen World RX Team + 4.837s
3. Gustav BERGSTRÖM (SWE) Gustav Bergström + 5.757s
4. Timmy HANSEN (SWE) Hansen World RX Team + 8.546s
5. Niclas GRÖNHOLM (FIN) Construction Equipment Dealer Team + 12.091s