06 September 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Kristoffersson scores emphatic first team victory at World RX of France

2016 Volkswagen Polo RX, World RX of France: Kristoffersson

After months without success, Johan Kristoffersson and Volkswagen RX Sweden have scored their first win in the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship, emerging victorious at the 2-4 September World RX of France. Round eight of the series took place at the 1.08km-long track at Lohéac in Brittany, and the young Swede scored a lights-to-flag win behind the wheel of his 600bhp Polo RX Supercar.

Kristoffersson dominated the second day of competition at the signature French RX event, and set the fastest time in both the Q3 and Q4 qualifying sessions in difficult weather conditions. His Polo RX revelled in the changing climate and Kristoffersson lead both the semi-final and final from start to finish to score an empathic first victory of the season.

‘It feels fantastic’
Kristoffersson is the fifth different driver to win a World RX event this year, and the 27 year-old was pleased that his time had finally come. ‘It feels fantastic,’ grinned the four-wheel drive Polo driver who also won the Monster Energy Super Charge Award after beating the other finalists to the first corner of the final.

It wasn’t all plain sailing, though: ‘We couldn’t get it right yesterday – I was P10 after Q2 and the car didn’t feel right. My team worked really hard on the car overnight and in the rain this morning, the car felt amazing,’ Kristoffersson commented.

‘This car and my driving style work very well together in the wet conditions. In the final, I pushed really hard and made sure to avoid the kerbs so as not to get a puncture, and concentrated on a clean race.

‘Similar to last year, Andreas Bakkerud and I are very close in the leader board and now I’m starting to catch up on Mattias Ekström and Petter Solberg who are not so far in front. I just hope to continue from where we left off when we got to Barcelona. We got a podium there last year so hopefully we can do the same in two weeks’ time,’ the Swede added.

‘We have been in a position to win since the first race of the season, and then in Canada four weeks ago were able to finish on the podium. Yesterday we had quite a good speed but didn’t really put everything together, but today it has just been amazing. In the semi-final I just got my head down and in the final I made a good start.

‘From there I was just pushing, I heard on the radio I was clear behind so I pushed hard, but not too hard. I have to say a really big thanks to the team: we made some positive changes to the car overnight and it was a pleasure to drive. This is just fantastic!’ enthused the World RX of France winner.

‘Pace definitely there’
Kristoffersson’s team-mate Anton Marklund wasn’t quite so successful and finished in 18th place. He showed strong pace from the start but was besieged by minor problems which, along with the weather, contributed to his low placing and non-qualification for the semi-finals. ‘Straight away in the first run I did in practice I was P4. The pace was definitely there,” said a disappointed Marklund.

‘The guys worked so hard to get the car rebuilt after the crash we had in Canada for this event and they did an exceptional job. It worked very well but we had some small problems, which is a big shame because Lohéac is special.

‘Not only is the crowd big, but the people are very passionate. They know who you are and they really love everything about rallycross. My focus is now on the Barcelona event in two weeks, where I know we will be fighting for the podium, with both cars,’ the ex-European Rallycross champion added.

Behind Kristoffersson, Andreas Bakkerud finished second in his Hooingan Racing Division Ford Focus RX, while Sebastien Loeb claimed third place in the Team Peugeot Hansen 208 RX. Kristoffersson’s French win sees him rise one place in the Drivers’ Championship to third, behind EKS’ Mattias Ekström and former World Rally Championship driver Petter Solberg.

‘Long time coming’
World RX Managing Director for IMG, Paul Bellamy, commented: ‘We’ve had a record crowd at Loheac this weekend with 75,000 passionate motorsport fans passing through the gates, and today’s final contained five different manufacturers. Congratulations to Johan and Volkswagen RX Sweden for their victory, it has been a long time coming and the team thoroughly deserve the win – especially after Johan’s blisteringly quick times in Q3 and Q4.’

Round nine of the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship will take place at the home of the Spanish Formula 1 race, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, from 16-18 September.

2016 FIA WORLD RALLYCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS


1 Petter Solberg, Citroën DS3: 181
2 Mattias Ekström, Audi S1: 176
3 Johan Kristoffersson, Volkswagen Polo: 158
4 Andreas Bakkerud, Ford Focus RS: 157
5 Sébastien Loeb, Peugeot 208: 141

2016 FIA WORLD RALLYCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP,

TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS


1 EKS: 277
2 Team Peugeot Hansen: 258
3 Volkswagen RX Sweden: 217
4 Hoonigan Racing Division: 210
5 World RX Team Austria: 126

[Images: FIAWorldRallycross.com / Volkswagen RX Sweden]

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