Mon 17 Jun 2024

Kristoffersson: Rallying return was ‘humbling experience’

Six-time FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson missed out on a top ten finish on his rallying return at ERC Bauhaus Royal Rally of Scandinavia last weekend by just half-a-second – leaving him to reflect upon an enjoyable if ‘humbling’ experience on the rapid Swedish stages.

In his first proper forest-based gravel rally for five years, Kristoffersson and co-driver Stig Rune Skjaermoen – who partnered him to the runner-up spoils in the Swedish Rally Championship back in 2019 – went into battle behind the wheel of Kristoffersson Motorsport’s Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

The Swedish/Norwegian pair began steadily before gradually increasing their speed as the event went on, but they lost time due to a puncture on the stretch at Colin’s Crest, a subsequent steering issue and an excursion into the same garden where World RX team-mate Ole Christian Veiby had come unstuck last year.

Clocking top ten times on more than half of the 17 stages, Kristoffersson saved his best until last as he went sixth-quickest through two of the final four speed tests in his home county of Värmland to wind up 11th overall. That left him a scant 0.5 seconds behind Simone Tempestini – winner of the 2024 ERC curtain-raiser in Hungary two months ago – but ahead of both 2022 ERC champion Efrén Llarena and his own former World RX team-mate, Petter Solberg.

“It was a humbling experience to come back to rallying after such a long break,” commented the 35-year-old Arvika native, who it was confirmed last week will defend his World RX crown this season in a sustainably-fuelled, combustion-powered Volkswagen Polo.

“They were such incredibly fast and narrow stages. I’ve done a lot of rallies before, but this one was the fastest along with Rally Finland. Some of the stages on Friday were a big shock, and I don’t think either of us was really prepared for that! I needed FIA-approved diapers...

“We had a ‘moment’ as early as the first corner on SS2, and a lot of it came down to experience, in terms of positioning the car in the right places and handling all the pace notes at such high speed, but Stig Rune did a flawless job and I had a much better feeling on Saturday – I really enjoyed that.

“We found a better rhythm and showed some good pace, especially on the last stage. It was a pity to lose out to Tempestini by just half-a-second, but we got to the finish and hopefully we can prepare a little bit better for next year and come away with a stronger result.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM