Johan Kristoffersson made it two-from-two in the 2022 FIA World Rallycross Championship as he fought his way to victory at Ferratum World RX of Rīga-Latvia today (3 September), thrilling fans with a scintillating turn-of-speed at the Bikernieki circuit.
In front of an enthusiastic Latvian crowd, the second round of World RX’s new electric era had everything – a champion’s fightback, some sensational no-holds-barred action and the emergence of a future star.
After setting the pace in a tense SuperPole session by just a single hundredth-of-a-second over Timmy Hansen and topping the times again in heat one, Kristoffersson came off worst in a breathtaking battle with his fellow Swede and Niclas Grönholm in heat two, allowing Kevin Hansen to seize the prime spot in the intermediate ranking.
The younger of the Hansen brothers then maintained that momentum in the first semi-final as he narrowly held off Kristoffersson’s team-mate Ole Christian Veiby to the chequered flag, before the defending world champion dug deep to recover from a slow start in the next race to leapfrog both Timmy Hansen and Gustav Bergström in a third KMS-run Volkswagen Polo.
Kristoffersson described his semi-final win as ‘lucky’, but there was little luck involved in the final. Once again, he did not lead into Turn One, following pole-sitter Kevin Hansen through the opening complex of corners as the pair proceeded to edge away from the squabbling Veiby and Timmy Hansen behind.
Having remained glued to his countryman’s bumper for the first two laps, Kristoffersson shot into the joker, and though Kevin Hansen tried to cover him off next time around, the VW star’s devastating raw pace was enough to turn the tables – and seal the 29th win of his extraordinary career.
“It feels like we’ve spent most of today fighting back since winning SuperPole, so it’s really nice to pull this one off,” said Kristoffersson, who has extended his advantage at the summit of the title standings to 11 points over Timmy Hansen. “It’s been a tough day in that respect, and I owe big thanks to the team for preparing for the event so well – the car felt good right from the word ‘go’ – as well as to my team-mates for doing such a brilliant job.
“I saved my tyres early on in the final so I would still have some left when I needed them, as I knew I would only have one lap to make the difference. Thankfully that tactic paid off, enabling me to put in one of my best laps of the weekend so far. Normally I would like to celebrate now, but with another round still to come here, we have to remain focussed. Hopefully we can celebrate tomorrow...”
For Kevin Hansen, the runner-up spoils represented the perfect response to a disappointing start to the campaign three weeks ago in Norway – where the Swede uncharacteristically failed to reach the final – with older brother Timmy following him closely across the line in third to complete a double podium for Hansen World RX Team
Veiby backed up his rostrum finish in Hell with fourth place today ahead of first-time finalist Bergström. The 19-year-old stunned by pushing Grönholm all the way in his progression race before out-manoeuvring both Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen at the start of the second semi-final, going on to bely his lack of experience to keep the latter at bay until the Peugeot driver jokered.
On a frustrating day for the Construction Equipment Dealer Team, Grönholm retired from his semi-final due to a broken steering arm, while Klara Andersson was unable to replicate her head-turning pace from the season curtain-raiser.
Sweden’s Isak Sjökvist leads the way after the opening two heats in the supporting FIA RX2e Championship, with home hero – and series debutant – Roberts Vitols putting in a crowd-pleasing performance on his way to third. Belgian teenage prodigy Viktor Vranckx – unbeaten so far in 2022 – is just fifth overnight, with work to do on Sunday.
The increasingly impressive Enzo Ide tops the table in round four of the Euro RX1 campaign, ahead of championship leader Anton Marklund – fastest in heat two after being tipped into a half-spin at the beginning of heat one – and last year’s Rīga winner, Jānis Baumanis. Fellow Latvian Ronalds Baldiņš is similarly well in the mix in fifth.
Tomorrow’s competitive action will begin with the World RX SuperPole session at 09:35 local time (07:35 CET), followed by the first race of the day at 11:10 local time (09:10 CET).
All of the action will be broadcast live on RX+, providing access to every race live or on-demand on any device with premium production, hundreds of hours of fast-paced content and exclusive behind-the-scenes insights, plus interviews, in-depth expert analysis, drone shots, on-board cameras, highlights and much more.
1. Johan KRISTOFFERSSON (SWE) Kristoffersson Motorsport 5 laps
2. Kevin HANSEN (SWE) Hansen World RX Team + 2.082s
3. Timmy HANSEN (SWE) Hansen World RX Team + 2.748s
4. Ole Christian VEIBY (NOR) Kristoffersson Motorsport + 3.400s
5. Gustav BERGSTRÖM (SWE) Gustav Bergström + 7.403s
Full results for all classes can be found here.
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