Johan Kristoffersson is the overnight pace-setter at Bretagne World RX of Lohéac, at the end of a thrilling opening day of action in France that sees three different cars and teams occupying the leading positions in the FIA World Rallycross Championship classification.
Following a troubled start to the season – with a Q1 disqualification in Spain compounded by a double puncture that ruled him out of the final in Sweden – Kristoffersson’s day looked to be going in the wrong direction again at the beginning of Q1, as he entered the first corner at almost 180 degrees to the chasing pack following a tag from behind.
Showcasing his sublime car control and all the skill that has made him a three-time world champion at the international pinnacle of the discipline, the Swede gathered the moment up without conceding the lead, and went on to post the second-fastest time of the session for KYB EKS JC behind a revitalised Niclas Grönholm.
In Q2, Kristoffersson then used an earlier joker strategy to supplant GRX-SET World RX Team rival Grönholm at the summit of the standings, with the Finn duly concluding the day as his closest pursuer and Kevin Abbring completing the top three after another strong showing for Unkorrupted.
At his team’s home event, the Dutchman – buoyed by his maiden World RX podium finish at Höljes two weeks ago – was again on excellent form, pulling off a spectacular last corner pass on Enzo Ide in Q1 and going second-quickest in Q2.
Hansen World RX Team brothers Kevin and Timmy – winners of the opening two rounds of the campaign – ended the day fourth and fifth respectively, ahead of Kristzián Szabó in the second GRX-SET entry and series returnee Timo Scheider (ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport), who lost time in traffic in Q1.
“You need to push the limits here, but by the same token, it’s very difficult to get the time back if you make a mistake because there is really no grip off-line,” reflected Kristoffersson. “The start is pretty crucial, and I had a decent launch in Q1 but when I tried to turn in, I wasn’t 100 per cent ahead and there was contact. From there on, it was full-lock, full-throttle and I was very happy to still come out in first. We survived that one, and thankfully Q2 went more smoothly...”
TEENAGE PRODIGY DESLANDES DAZZLES IN RX2e
Series newcomer Dorian Deslandes produced a superb display on his FIA RX2e Championship debut by winning the first two qualifiers at Lohéac today to set the pace in the all-electric series, with his mentor – former RX2 Series Champion Cyril Raymond – making it a French one-two in the overnight order, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.
The pair subsequently engaged in an entertaining opening lap battle in Q3 – a session topped by Reinis Nitišs. The Latvian – the youngest event-winner in World RX history – quickly got to grips with the RX2e car to end the day third overall.
Title protagonists Guillaume De Ridder and Jesse Kallio sit fourth and fifth as their duel continues, while Conner Martell was out of luck on his European return, unleashing a rapid turn-of-speed but picking up a 30-second penalty in Q1 for failing to take the joker and finding himself disqualified from third place in Q2 for driving with non-homologated boots.
BAKKERUD OUTPACES HOME HEROES IN EURO RX1 BATTLE
Andreas Bakkerud leads the way in Euro RX1 overnight, seeing off a gaggle of home heroes to top the standings by setting the fastest time in Q1 and backing that up with second place in Q2.
The multiple World RX event-winner is being chased by DA Racing duo Jean Baptiste ‘JB’ and Andréa Dubourg, with Hungary’s Tamás Kárai excelling just behind in fourth. Bakkerud’s ESMotorsport team-mate Jānis Baumanis fought back from a first corner spin in Q1 to go quickest in Q2 and put both Škodas in the overall top five, while René Münnich completes the top six.
It was a troubled day, however, for Pailler brothers Fabien and Jonathan. The former was delayed by Turn One contact in Q2 that temporarily disabled his power steering and dropped him from third to eighth in the intermediate table, and the latter lost time to transmission woes in Q1.
BELEVSKIY/PAUWELS DUEL KICKS UP A GEAR IN EURO RX3
As they have been so far this season, Volland Racing team-mates Yury Belevskiy and Kobe Pauwels were once again the leading lights in Euro RX3 at Lohéac today The Russian set the pace in the first two qualifiers, before the Belgian – competing at the track for the first time – responded in Q3 to defeat his team-mate in a doorhandle-to-doorhandle duel.
Marat Knyazev in another Volland entry sits third overnight ahead of Timur Shigabutdinov and Zsolt Szíjj ‘Jolly’ – both in similar cars – with Maximilien Eveno, who invariably stars at Lohéac, the best-placed Frenchman and non-Audi driver in sixth.
The action continues tomorrow with the remaining qualifiers, semi-finals and all-important finals – all of which will be streamed live on RX+.
1. Johan Kristoffersson (SWE) KYB EKS JC 95 pts
2. Niclas Grönholm (FIN) GRX-SET World RX Team 92pts
3. Kevin Abbring (NLD) Unkorrupted 83pts
4. Kevin Hansen (SWE) Hansen World RX Team 82pts
5. Timmy Hansen (SWE) Hansen World RX Team 77pts
6. Krisztían Szabó (HUN) GRX SET World RX Team 77pts
1. Dorian Deslandes (FRA) 138pts
2. Cyril Raymond (FRA) 129pts
3. Reinis Nitišs (LVA) 128pts
4. Guillaume De Ridder (BEL) 126pts
5. Jesse Kallio (FIN) 119pts
6. Isak Sjökvist (SWE) 113pts
1. Andreas Bakkerud (NOR) ESMotorsport 95pts
2. Jean Baptiste Dubourg (FRA) DA Racing 83pts
3. Andréa Dubourg (FRA) DA Racing 79pts
4. Tamás Kárai (HUN) Kárai Motorsport Sportegyesület 78pts
5. Jānis Baumanis (LVA) ESMotorsport 76pts
6. René Münnich (DEU) ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport 76pts
1. Yury Belevskiy (CHE) Volland Racing 145pts
2. Kobe Pauwels (BEL) Volland Racing 140pts
3. Marat Knyazev (RUS) Volland Racing 126pts
4. Timur Shigabutdinov (RUS) Volland Racing 119pts
5. Zsolt Szíjj ‘Jolly’ (HUN) Speedy Motorsport 116pts
6. Maximilien Eveno (FRA) Maximilien Eveno 112pts