Thursday | 25 Nov 2021

Kristoffersson: Everything up to now is history – this is where it counts

Johan Kristoffersson is preparing to fight for his fourth FIA World Rallycross Championship Drivers’ crown at Germany’s Nürburgring this weekend (27-28 November), vowing that the rest of the season is ‘history’ as he bids to overturn a 17-point deficit to the top of the table.

Johan Kristoffersson is preparing to fight for his fourth FIA World Rallycross Championship Drivers’ crown at Germany’s Nürburgring this weekend (27-28 November), vowing that the rest of the season is ‘history’ as he bids to overturn a 17-point deficit to the top of the table.

Entering the campaign as the defending title-holder, Kristoffersson found himself immediately on the back foot in the Catalunya curtain-raiser when he was disqualified from the first qualifying session after his data-logger was found not to have been connected. Underscoring his raw speed, the Swede went on to win all three subsequent qualifiers, but could not quite overhaul the Hansen brothers in the semi-final or final and had to settle for a frustrated third position.

A double puncture then curtailed Kristoffersson’s challenge at the semi-final stage on home soil at Höljes, and the curse continued in round three at Lohéac, as the KYB EKS JC ace secured Top Qualifier honours only to be forced out by driveshaft failure while leading his semi-final.

He set the qualifying pace once again in the opening leg of the Riga double-header and lined up on pole position for the final, but contact with Niclas Grönholm when the lights went out sent his Audi S1 spinning out of contention.

Not since 2017 had Kristoffersson gone four consecutive rounds without winning in World RX, but he responded in fine style the following day as he outfoxed Grönholm for his first victory of the campaign – and the 25th of his record-breaking career.

Despite not having previously competed at Spa-Francorchamps, the 32-year-old made it back-to-back triumphs three weeks later around the legendary Belgian circuit to close to just 12 points adrift of the championship lead – but he lost ground last time out at Montalegre after picking up a five-second penalty for a track marker transgression in the final, due to skating spectacularly across the gravel trap in a frenetic duel with Kevin Hansen.

Now, everything comes down to two high-speed rounds at the Nürburgring – and whilst he knows he has a mountain to climb, Kristoffersson is battle-ready.

“Our target starting the season was to go into the last event with the possibility to fight for the championship, and here we are,” he reflected. “It has been a good season overall. It took some time for me to learn the Audi, but given I was starting with a new team, I think things got going pretty smoothly.

“We were fast straightaway in Barcelona, but for various reasons, we missed out on some points along the way. We would have liked to enter the last event in a better position, but that’s history now and we will do our best in these final two rounds.

“It’s quite exciting and always interesting coming to a new circuit, although it’s difficult to know what to expect when you haven’t really seen the track before. With it being a double-header as well, it’s going to be very important to adapt and learn it quickly.

“There are a lot of points up for grabs, so preparation, the track walk and free practice will be key. We will focus on that, and we will do our absolute maximum to achieve the best results we possibly can. Let’s see where that leaves us at the end of the season...”

Championship Position 2nd
Points Scored 161
Finals Reached 5
Final Wins 2
Podium Finishes 3
Semi-Final Wins 4
Top Qualifier Spots 2
Qualifying Session Wins 9