Mattias Ekstrom and Timo Scheider finish on Swedish podium
KYB Team JC leads Teams’ standings after round one
Kristoffersson Motorsport’s Johan Kristoffersson was the comeback king in the first round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, the Swecon World RX of Sweden.
Sweden’s Kristoffersson, the 2017 and 2018 World RX Drivers’ Champion, claimed his 21st career victory in the final held after a torrential downpour at the Holjes circuit, and with it - together with being TQ (top qualifier) and winning semi-final one – claimed maximum points to take an early lead of the Drivers’ standings, driving a Volkswagen Polo.
KYB Team JC’s Mattias Ekstrom, the 2016 World RX Drivers’ Champion, also scored a podium on his return to the sport. He set the quickest time in Q2, won semi-final two and finished second in the final with a strong run in the wet conditions, driving an Audi S1.
Germany’s Timo Scheider, the ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport driver, racing a Seat Ibiza, finished third. He was promoted onto the podium when Sweden’s Anton Marklund, racing a Renault Megane for GCK Bilstein, was given a 30 second penalty for contact on lap one with Sweden’s Timmy Hansen, the 2019 World RX Drivers’ Champion. GRX Taneco’s Niclas Gronholm, from Finland, Marklund and Team Hansen’s Hansen completed the final results.
Along with his victory, Kristoffersson also won round one in the new-for-2020 Champion Fast Start Award. “This feels very good. I had a bit of a tricky starting position in Q1, but I had a very good start in the rain and managed to have a good Q1 after that. That made everything a bit easier. In the semi-final we tried a few things on the car that didn’t really work out, but then the rain came for the final. The day has also been very tricky for our family team for a comeback after being away since 2015. We had all sorts of different conditions but I have very good people around and the launch in the final speaks for itself. It’s never easy, and there is always someone there trying to take you down. It’s quite a wide field now with lots of different fast drivers. It’s going to be tricky this year and we have to work hard.”
Ekstrom’s result, together with points scored by team mate Robin Larsson, gives KYB Team JC the lead in the Teams’ standings. “It was very different preparation to an event for me, to know like two weeks before that I would race here. Finishing second is never something I dream about, but Johan did a good job and you have to say they have a very good car. We have developed our car as good as we can, but when the sky opened and we had a full dry setup for the final I knew I would not stand a chance. If it had been dry, I think it would have been closer. We’re having a good time with Robin and the team and we’ll try again tomorrow.”
Scheider’s success marked the first ever World RX podium for ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport. “It was kind of a chaotic start to the season, given the weather conditions we had here. We’ve had okay speed in the dry, but not too good in the wet. But, we made the semis, finished third there and started P6 in the final. We had a good chance, and finally, with a bit of luck in the end due to Anton Marklund’s penalty, we finished third. I’m mega happy for the ALL-INKL team, it’s the very first World RX podium for those guys, so it’s a mega start to the season for us.”
Sweden’s Robin Larsson was classified fourth in semi-final one, following a three second penalty for contact with Marklund during the race. Hungary’s Krisztian Szabo, driving a Hyundai i20 for GRX SET, was fifth and Unkorrupted’s Rokas Baciuska, from Lithuania, was sixth. In semi-final two, 2019 World RX of Sweden winner Sebastian Eriksson, racing a Honda Civic for the Olsbergs MSE team, was fourth. Team Hansen’s Kevin Hansen, from Sweden, and GRX Taneco’s Timur Timerzyanov, from Russia, were fifth and sixth.
Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel’s Andreas Bakkerud, from Norway, missed the semi-finals. He was 13th in the Intermediate Classification, on his first event in the GCK Renault Megane. ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport’s Rene Muennich, from Germany, was 14th, Finland’s Jani Paasonen 15th and Unkorrupted’s Guerlain Chicherit, from France, was 16th and the final championship points scorer. Great Britain’s Liam Doran, racing the second Renault Megane for the Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel team, retired from the event in Q1 with technical problems.
The first ever international electric rallycross event, for the Projekt E category, is at its halfway stage and America’s Ken Block is the top qualifier on day one, ahead of Austria’s Hermann Naubauer and Great Britain’s Natalie Barratt, all three driving Ford Fiestas fitted with the three motor, 450kW all-electric powertrains developed by Projekt E technical partner STARD.
The first round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship also takes place this weekend at Holjes. Like Projekt E, Euro RX takes place as a single event over two days. After Q2, France’s Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Peugeot 208), Sweden’s Oliver Eriksson (Ford Fiesta) and Norway’s Sondre Evjen (Volkswagen Polo) hold the top three positions.
Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of Motorsports Events at IMG, concluded: “In very difficult circumstances and thanks to the hard work of the FIA, our partners, teams, drivers and the Swedish promoter, we have been able to get the 2020 season underway with a bang. Everyone in the World RX paddock reduced their personnel numbers to help make this work and over 340 negative PCR test results were received. Congratulations to Johan on claiming victory on his comeback weekend, and at his home event too. Well done also to Mattias and Timo for finishing on the podium in such difficult conditions in the final. Now it’s a quick turnaround to do it all again tomorrow.”
The second round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place tomorrow (Sunday, August 23), also at Holjes in Sweden. Watch all the action on the World RX Facebook and YouTube channels.