Johan Kristoffersson was left ruing a premature conclusion to his ‘Magic Weekend’ last Sunday (3 July), when a puncture midway through the final denied him the chance to add another Höljes victory to his extraordinary career CV.
Kristoffersson was one of the pre-event favourites – if not indeed the favourite outright – heading into the second outing on the 2022 FIA European Rallycross Championship calendar on home soil, and he was unsurprisingly on the pace from the outset in the headlining Euro RX1 category.
Although he lost time due to a crowd-pleasing duel with Andreas Bakkerud in heat one, the four-time World Champion set the pace in heat two and backed that up with the second-quickest run in heat three to secure third spot in the intermediate ranking.
From there, Kristoffersson dominated his progression race and semi-final, and from second on the grid in the final, he looked poised to take the fight to compatriot Oliver Solberg in the lead – the pair even making brief contact at the exit of the joker – until a puncture on lap three cut short his chase.
“I would have liked to drive a few more laps,” acknowledged the Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS star. “It was a place where I had never had a puncture before. I got off to a good start in the final. The plan was to dive into the joker immediately if Oliver was in front, and I had a good joker and a quick lap afterwards, but they have competed against me before and immediately covered it off...
“It was like in the old days, battling against a Solberg, only this time it was the younger generation, which makes me feel really old! I have to say, Oliver drove fantastically well. Our own performance overall was a bit up-and-down and I didn’t really get the same feeling I’d had at Höljes the previous time, but we were still able to push for the win. While ultimately it wasn’t quite enough, all-in-all, we must be satisfied.”
Team-mate Gustav Bergström – making his Euro RX debut – placed 17th amongst the 25 high-calibre competitors in the ranking, but the Swede’s challenge ended at the progression stage, when he fell just over two seconds shy of making the semi-final cut.
“When everything was working as it should on Johan’s car, we were fast,” reflected team manager Tommy Kristoffersson, “but there were a few technical issues that we couldn’t fully get on top of. It was tough opposition for Gustav, but he matched a number of more experienced drivers for pace. He needs to work on his starts still, but he is doing absolutely what we expect of him.”