Friday | 06 Jan 2023

Kristoffersson: 2022 title almost as special as my first

Johan Kristoffersson has said that while his maiden FIA World Rallycross Championship drivers’ crown in 2017 will always be his most special memory in the sport, becoming the series’ inaugural electric champion last year following a dominant performance came ‘pretty close’.

Johan Kristoffersson has said that while his maiden FIA World Rallycross Championship drivers’ crown in 2017 will always be his most special memory in the sport, becoming the series’ inaugural electric champion last year following a dominant performance came ‘pretty close’.

Kristoffersson Motorsport faced the daunting task of building three new, electric-powered cars for the 2022 World RX campaign – with the team’s trio of Volkswagen RX1es not hitting the track until a week before the first race weekend in Norway.

Despite some early teething troubles in the pre-season Höljes test, it was immediately apparent that the car was quick – and Kristoffersson duly made history as he sped to the top step of the podium in the Hell curtain-raiser, to go down in the record books as World RX’s first electric winner.

“It was a huge process – much more work than we could ever have imagined – and a very short period of time to get the cars ready,” the 34-year-old Swede reflected. “It was very hectic, and going into the season, we didn’t know if all of our decisions and solutions were correct or not. To secure the first win just seven days after the cars ran for the first time was quite a story.

“We built the cars ourselves in our workshop back home with my family team, starting out from scratch. To be involved in the whole process and follow every step and screw and then win the first electric championship definitely meant a little bit extra. The first title is always the best, but after that, this one is pretty close.”

Following his victorious start, Kristoffersson would add seven more triumphs to his extraordinary tally over the course of the campaign, ultimately wrapping up the laurels in Catalunya with a round to spare. As has been the case for so much of his career, the five-time world champion was the driver to beat in all conditions, and even when circumstances looked to have conspired against him, he almost always found a way to emerge on top.

“The format made it very difficult to dominate,” he acknowledged, “and these cars are very different [to internal combustion cars]. The front and rear motors are not connected, so depending on the speed of your rear axle, sometimes it feels like you’re in a front wheel-drive car, sometimes it feels like you’re in a rear wheel-drive car and sometimes it feels like four wheel-drive! That makes it a handful to drive, which is a challenge I enjoy.

“I think my circuit racing background and rallying experience played in my favour in that respect, and I seem to have the ability to end up in the right place at the right time on the track and be fast straight out-of-the-box. Ultimately, all the drivers in the field can put in a quick time once, but you have to do it on every lap and I think that’s my strength – nailing that little bit extra.

“We had a good start to the season, but towards the end, our competitors were closer and it got pretty tight. If you’re not winning, that inspires you to work even more so we know the other guys will push extra-hard for the coming season and the competition will be tough this year as well. It’s never easy, but I have a great team and great team-mates, and I will do absolutely everything I can to at least get to the last round and fight for a sixth championship. That’s the target.”