Monday, May 27, 2024

Kristoffersson Wins Dramatic Weekend in Hell

Johan Kristoffersson has claimed his 37th career victory at round 2 of the 2023 FIA World Rallycross Championship in Hell, Norway. The Swedish superstar fought of all the competition throughout a very dramatic weekend to win the final, leading home Niclas Grönholm and a very impressive Timo Scheider who secured a podium for the first time this year.

Kristoffersson continues to be the only driver ever to win a SuperPole shootout in World RX, as they were introduced in 2022 to coincide with the switch to all-electric cars. From there, he comfortably won all four of his heat races and also his semi-final, surviving as drama unfolded all around him.

The talking point of the whole weekend is the incident between fellow Kristoffersson Motorsport driver Ole Christian Veiby and 2019 champion Timmy Hansen. Battling for second position, Hansen charged up the inside of the Volkswagen Polo RX1e as they crossed the line to start the third lap. Veiby kept the door firmly shut, forcing Hansen up onto the inside curb, launching the car onto two wheels and causing irreparable damage to his Peugeot 208 RX1e, forcing him out of the competition. After the race, an obviously livid Hansen confronted Veiby as he drove back into the paddock, physically hitting the Polo with his fist. As a result of all this action, Veiby was disqualified from that heat, and Hansen was fined €1,000 for “conduct after the incident [that] was not acceptable under any circumstances.”

All smiles between Hansen and Veiby on Saturday before the collision on Sunday. Credit: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

Hansen World RX Team’s disastrous weekend continued in the semi-final. Hansen’s teammate, Kevin Hansen, who had been a major threat to Kristoffersson through the event until that point, gained a puncture while attempting to block Kristoffersson at the start of the race, allowing Scheider and Sébastian Loeb to pass and make it to the final.

In the end, it was Grönholm who was the closest threat to Kristoffersson. The Flying Finn, who won in Norway in 2019, got ever faster as the weekend went on. There was a lot of contact between all the cars in the final in the opening run to the first corner. Veiby’s boot lid was ripped off and he ended up tagging Grönholm and Scheider at various points in the opening two corners, with very little that any driver could do about it. After that, the race settled down, with the top four drivers all taking their joker on the final lap and emerging in the same order.

Niclas Grönholm and Timo Scheider complete the podium. Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool

Scheider’s performance was exemplary. His SEAT Ibiza is a 2022 car that is being worked on until the new model becomes available, and he is competing with the best of them. As commentator Hal Ridge said: “what a job from the Münnich Motorsport team. The progression with the SEAT Ibiza has been rapid to get Scheider onto the podium.”

Speaking straight after the race, Kristoffersson said “it’s maybe not as comfortable as it looks, but we have a fantastic team! We built a good car and I feel comfortable, so when everything is working we’re fast, but there’s always details to work on.”

The series moves on to Kristofferson’s home event in Höljes, Sweden, on 1/2 July.