Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Reigning Kristoffersson King in Killarney

Johan Kristoffersson has picked up where he left off by winning at the Killarney International Raceway on the first day of the double-header round of the 2023 FIA World Rallycross Championship. He now has a 38 point gap over his nearest rival, Kevin Hansen, and could conceivably wrap up the championship at the next round of Sunday (8 October).

Credit: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

SuperPole

As the season resumed, making its return to the much-loved Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town, the Swedish superstar did not have it all his own way in South Africa. For the first time in history, Kristoffersson was not the fastest in the single-lap SuperPole shootout session.

Kevin Hansen broke Kristoffersson’s unbroken SuperPole run. Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool

The honour of breaking that streak went to Kevin Hansen, driver for Hansen World RX Team, who beat Kristoffersson by a slender 0.08 of a second. Hansen has great experience of racing the ZEROID X1 cars that are being raced for the final four rounds of the season, and exploiting this to great effect.

As a staunch advocate for electric rallycross, Hansen was naturally very excited about his achievement: “I really enjoy driving the ZEROID X1 and it’s very close to my heart – and it’s great to show our speed in SuperPole like this. I’m super-pumped!

The Hansens were on fine form all weekend. Credit: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

Heats

Kristoffersson, however, was quick to bounce back. He dominated the first heat, finishing almost a second faster than teammate Ole Christian Veiby. Heat two was won by DTM star Timo Scheider, who continued his impressive run of form despite his limited experience with the RX2e machinery being used. Kevin’s brother, 2019 champion Timmy Hansen posted the fastest time in heat three. But all the while, Kristoffersson lurked in the background, finishing second in the other two heats. His consistency is the key to his continuing success, and he never fails to be near the top of the leaderboard when it counts.

Scheider continued his impressive run of form in South Africa. Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool

Finals

Once again, Kristoffersson dominated the semi-finals, finishing his race four seconds faster than Veiby, who won the other semi-final. CE Dealer Team‘s Klara Andersson and Scheider’s teammate René Münnich were the unfortunate two who were knocked out and did not make the final.

Kristoffersson managed to survive a first corner squeeze in the final to get ahead as chaos unfolded behind him. Midway through the final, Veiby caught a rut in the track, allowing Timmy Hansen to pull alongside him as the Norwegian went sideways. Contact was made between the two of them, with Hansen going onto the grass. Scheider seized the initiative and slotted between the two to scamper away from the pair.

Timmy Hansen continued despite damage in the final. Credit: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

Kevin Hansen was the cat who got the cream. Having already served his Joker lap, he was able to leapfrog the other three, giving him second place. Scheider brilliantly fended off an aggressive Timmy Hansen to secure his second podium result of the season. But out front, Kristoffersson’s unbeaten 2023 run continues. It is hard to see how anyone can beat him on Sunday.

Hansen, Kristoffersson and Scheider on the podium. Credit: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

Driver Reaction

Kristoffersson was typically modest following his triumph: “It was a tricky day, but I was lucky enough not to be in the traffic too much; I imagine it was easier for me than for the others, because it was difficult to follow with such limited visibility.

When asked about the conditions of the track, he said “I actually thought I was going to spin in Turn Two; the track also got quite rutted in places, so I just played it safe to avoid any punctures and bring it home. Now we’ll try to do the same again tomorrow.

Drivers’ Standings

Kristoffersson now has a 38 point advantage over Kevin Hansen, who is only one point ahead of Niclas Grönholm. Timmy Hansen currently lies in fourth with Scheider’s impressive form putting him joint fifth with Veiby, and the pair of them only two points behind Hansen.

While the championship may be all but wrapped up, there is still plenty to be decided for the rest of the field. The next round takes place at the Killarney International Raceway on Sunday 8 October.

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