Tue 31 Jan 2023

Kristoffersson hails ‘best team we’ve ever had’

Johan Kristofferson has described Kristoffersson Motorsport’s current composition as ‘probably the best team we’ve ever had’, with Tommy Kristoffersson agreeing that there were ‘no weak links’ in the squad that sped to both Drivers’ and Teams’ World Championship glory in 2022.

Johan Kristofferson has described Kristoffersson Motorsport’s current composition as ‘probably the best team we’ve ever had’, with Tommy Kristoffersson agreeing that there were ‘no weak links’ in the squad that sped to both Drivers’ and Teams’ World Championship glory in 2022.

Running under the Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS banner, KMS fielded a trio of VW RX1es in the FIA World Rallycross Championship last year – for multiple world champion Kristoffersson, rallycross returnee Ole Christian Veiby and rookie Gustav Bergström.

By season’s end, Kristoffersson had added a further eight victories to his extraordinary career CV, with Veiby reaching the rostrum on five occasions and Bergström impressing with a hat-trick of consecutive podium finishes himself.

At Germany’s Nürburgring in November, Kristoffersson and KMS duly celebrated a resounding title double – a far cry from 12 months earlier when, Tommy Kristoffersson explains, the future of the Arvika-based outfit had looked anything but certain...

“Having been around for more than 30 years, we found ourselves at a crossroads with a big decision to make and no obvious path,” the Team Principal recalled. “We had to ask ourselves, ‘what do we do now?’ If we hadn’t come up with something, it would have been game over for KMS. I spoke to Erik Veiby and Ronnie Bergström and put forward my only conceivable plan – to build electric cars for rallycross.

“Considering the size of the project – undoubtedly the biggest we have ever undertaken – it was an extremely quick decision. I went away for half an hour and when I came back, Erik and Ronnie said, ‘we’re running!’ They both have a big heart for KMS and came in as investors alongside our loyal partners Volkswagen, Bauhaus and Red Bull. 

“Still, it was anything but easy. Matters were clearly complicated by the drastically different global situation, with the after-effects of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, recession and inflation, which meant everything became much more expensive.

“On top of that, the car was based on a completely new concept, but when Volkswagen Motorsport shut down its operations, many engineers with enormous competence and great knowledge were freed. Since we had good contacts from before, together with our own employees, we were able to build an incredibly strong team.

“It became a team without any weak links, extremely talented people who built three cars without any real flaws – verging on what a factory operation could conceivably do.”

Notwithstanding that level of expertise, KMS found itself under considerable pressure to be ready in time for the pre-season test at Höljes and the curtain-raising contest in Hell just a week later. If the team felt underprepared, however, it did not show in the end result, as Johan Kristoffersson did what Johan Kristoffersson does best – carved himself out another little piece of history by winning the first round of World RX’s new electric era.

Three more victories followed in swift succession; indeed, Kristoffersson took the chequered flag first in each of the opening seven finals, but was demoted to fifth by a penalty for contact with Timmy Hansen at Montalegre. The only other time the 34-year-old did not stand on the top step of the podium was on the Saturday in Catalunya; 24 hours later, he was crowned world champion for a fifth time.

“It was probably the best team we’ve ever had,” Kristoffersson Jnr opined. “The communication worked seamlessly, despite there being 11 nationalities involved. At the end of the day, it’s all about teamwork and I also had two great team-mates. We shared all the data and that allowed us to learn quickly.”

Those sentiments are shared by his father, who is quick to praise the contribution of all three drivers to Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS’ outstanding achievements last year.

“Johan, Ole Christian and Gustav performed exceptionally well,” he remarked. “With Johan, we obviously know where we are and while Ole Christian’s pre-season wasn’t ideal, I still felt confident that it would work well once he settled back into the groove, which proved to be the case. With Gustav, I saw something during his first run at Westombanan. Sure, it was puppyish then, but there was something there – and what he showed during the year was super great.

The co-operation between our drivers and between the drivers and engineers was outstanding – we benefitted greatly from having three cars in the team. Open and honest communication was one of the greatest keys to success.”

KMS is aiming to continue that success in 2023, when the team hopes to return with a three-car line-up again in defence of its maiden world championship title – with Tommy Kristoffersson bullish about the future of the sport as World RX heads into the second season of its electric era.

“Some rallycross fans were negative about electric cars in the sport without having seen a single race, but there is no alternative – you couldn’t get even a single penny of sponsor support to run the old type of cars,” he explains. “It’s electric or nothing. I took up the fight with some of our devoted fans, and received many personal messages with apologies.

“Rallycross is an unbeatable concept, with fast and intense races in an arena-like setting. The format in World RX is changing back to more like how it used to be, and I do think there will be more cars competing this year and that TV coverage will be more easily accessible. Ultimately, I believe this sport has tremendous potential.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM