10 October 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Kristoffersson claims second place in World RX series at World RX of Latvia

2016 Volkswagen Polo RX, World RX of Latvia: Kristoffersson

After a disappointing result at the World RX of Spain, Volkswagen RX Sweden travelled to the inaugural World RX of Latvia with one clear objective: to achieve a strong result. Round 10 of the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship took place at the 1.29km-long Bikernieki National Sports Base on 30 September to 2 October, and the event saw Volkswagen RX Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson finish fifth overall. The result doesn’t tell the whole story, though: the Swedish star is now second in the series’ Drivers’ Championship points.

Fastest time
Kristoffersson set the fastest time in the second qualifying heat on day one and also claimed the top spot in the third round, despite changeable weather conditions and torrential rain. With a time almost six seconds faster than any rival, the 600bhp Polo RX proved its capability and rewarded the Swedish driver with a first place at the end of the Intermediate Classification sessions. The rallycross and circuit star also started on pole position for the first semi-final, before crossing the line fifth in the final race.

The points boost saw Kristoffersson leap-frog over ex-WRC champion and reigning World RX leader Petter Holberg to take second place in the drivers’ standings, 27 points shy of leader Mattias Ekström. Kristoffersson was pleased with the improvement in his performance: ‘I was able do one very quick run in the dry and one in the wet this weekend, so that was good, and to be top after the qualifying races and move to P2 in the championship is great.

‘Lot of progress’
‘I have to thank the whole team because now we are scoring a lot of points at every race. We just have to keep pushing, to continue to try and fight for this championship. We missed a bit of pace in the semi-final and final, so it has not been an easy day for sure. We have made a lot of progress in the last few events and I’m looking forward to Germany in two weeks,’ he continued. A total of sixty points are available over the next and final two rounds of the season.

Kristofersson’s team-mate Anton Marklund endured a more challenging event in Riga. However, the former FIA European Rallycross Touring Car Champion also improved on his points tally in the championship standings at the Latvian event. A spin in the torrentially wet conditions of the third qualifying session cost Marklund time, without which he would have made the semi-finals. As it was he finished 15th in Latvia.

‘Very tough’
The young Swede conceded his result was not what he expected: ‘This weekend has been very tough for me. I got a brand new chassis for this round and the mechanics have done an amazing job. It looks like a show car, it’s stunning and I was really looking forward to racing it here. We set some good lap times but I didn’t have the feeling on the first day.

‘I had really good pace in the wet on the morning of dat two, but hit some water and had a 360-degree spin, which cost me a lot of time. If you take away the time I lost, I would have been P4 in Q3 and that would have got me into the semi-finals. It’s disappointing, but I’m testing here in Latvia all day on Monday to find improvements in myself and the car, so I can show what I can do in Germany,’ he added.

‘Huge effort’
Michael Schneider, Volkswagen RX Sweden Team Principal is pleased with the progress made in both wet and dry conditions, and says the team will do all it can to help Kristoffersson fight for the 2016 World RX Drivers’ Championship title. ‘Johan had a very good weekend. To be top qualifier takes a huge effort from the team and driver, and it proves again that we have the pace to run at the front,’ said Schneider. ‘We will work hard to do everything we can to finish in the best possible place after the last round in Argentina. Nothing is over until after the final round.’

Volkswagen RX Sweden remains third in the World Rallycross Teams’ Championship points. The next round the series will take place in two weeks’ time at the Estering in Germany on 15-16 October, where US TV star and rallycross driver Tanner Foust will join the Swedish outfit in a third Volkswagen Polo RX Supercar.

2016 FIA WORLD RALLYCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Mattias Ekström, Audi S1: 228
2 Johan Kristoffersson, Volkswagen Polo: 201
2 Petter Solberg, Citroën DS3: 194
4 Andreas Bakkerud, Ford Focus RS: 192
5 Sébastien Loeb, Peugeot 208: 180

2016 FIA WORLD RALLYCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP,

TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 EKS: 333
2 Team Peugeot Hansen: 345
3 Volkswagen RX Sweden: 265
4 Hoonigan Racing Division: 247
5 World RX Team Austria: 187

[Images: FIAWorldRallycross.com / Volkswagen RX Sweden]

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