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26 Apr 2015

WRX: Johan K. takes wet Portugal

Category: News, WRX Posted 26.04.15 23:30 by

The WorldRX weekend of Montalegre in Portugal remained cold, wet and muddy and when Day 2 came to its end it was Johan Kristoffersson who took overall victory from reigning World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg while Timmy Hansen finished in third place.

 

Concerning the unfriendly weather not much changed on Day 2 in Portugal. Every now and then the sun came out, but most of the time it was raining in the northern Portuguese mountains, at the border to neighbouring Spain. Sunday started with the usual warm-up runs, former Swedish tarmac racer Johan Kristoffersson proved already here that he is a force to reckon with. With a lap time of 0:45.997s the son of ex-Rallycrosser Tommy Kristoffersson was the only driver who rounded the Pista Automóvel de Montalegre in under 46 seconds. Petter Solberg (0:46.590s) set the second fastest time, Per-Gunnar ‘P-G’ Andersson (0:46.619s) made it to third.

 

On Sunday morning the loose parts of the track were really muddy... © JKR/ERC24

On Sunday morning the loose parts of the track were really muddy… © JKR/ERC24

 

As the track was quite dry for Heat 3 most of the drivers put their tokens on the usual tyres, only Timmy Hansen went out on rain rubbers. His father, 14-times European Rallycross Champion Kenneth Hansen, had a big grin on the face when his offspring claimed the fastest time (2:56.676m) here. “That is all the experience from many a year in the sport,” explained Hansen Senior the team’s tyre choice. Andreas Bakkerud (2:58.174m) finished the third runs as second fastest; third fastest time was set by Johan Kristoffersson (2:58.750m).

In Heat 4 Petter Solberg claimed with 2:45.089m the fastest qualification time of the weekend. ‘Hollywood’ was dog-hounded all the way to the chequered flag by Swede Mattias Ekström, as a result the DTM star made it to second place in 2:45.919m. Johan K., with a time of 2:46.868m, finished for the third time in third place, a result that secured him a place beside pole-setter Timmy Hansen in the front row of the Semi-Final 2 grid. The first row of Semi-Final 1 was booked by Petter Solberg (pole) and Andreas Bakkerud.

 

WorldRX title defender Petter Solberg looked as if he could win Portugal, but eventually became the runner-up. © JKR/ERC24

WorldRX title defender Petter Solberg looked as if he could win Portugal, but eventually became the runner-up. © JKR/ERC24

 

Semi-Final 1 fell prey to Petter Solberg, Andreas Bakkerud finished second and ‘P-G’ Andersson third. For Mattias Ekström (fourth), Reinis Nitišs (fifth) and Robin Larsson (sixth) the event came to its end here. Semi-Final 2 saw an unbeatable Johan Kristoffersson winning ahead of the teammates Timmy Hansen and Davy Jeanney. Therefore, not the expected access to the Montalegre SuperCars Final for ‘Topi’ Heikkinen (fourth), Timur Timerzyanov (fifth) and Manfred Stohl (sixth).

 

Changing tyres was several times an issue in the WorldRX of Portugal event. © JKR/ERC24

Changing tyres was several times an issue in the WorldRX of Portugal event. © JKR/ERC24

 

When the last race of the weekend was started no less than four of the six drivers shot straight into the Joker Lap detour, while only the leading pair Petter Solberg and Timmy Hansen opted for the original route. For a couple of laps it looked as if the reigning World Rallycross Champion would be able to claim another victory, but when the Norwegian came out of his Joker Lap he found himself beaten to the finish line by Johan Kristoffersson. Timmy Hansen completed the podium while Davy Jeanney, Andreas Bakkerud and Per-Gunnar Andersson finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

“I am so, so happy,” stated Kristoffersson later on. “I nearly stalled the engine on the start line and the whole circuit was unbelievably slippery, but I drove a clean race. I couldn’t see out of the side windows, so it was more about survival than actual racing. I want to say a big thank you to Volkswagen Sweden and to my entire team who have done a fantastic job over the past few months. They have worked very hard to build this all-new car which has been working very well all weekend. It’s the best possible start to the season.”

 

Johan Kristoffersson was as happy as Punch after winning the 2015 WRX season opener. © JKR/ERC24

Johan Kristoffersson was as happy as Punch after winning the 2015 WRX season opener. © JKR/ERC24

 

Round 1 of the 2015 WorldRX series fell prey to Petter Solberg (2nd), Johan Kristoffersson (1st) and Timmy Hansen (3rd). © JKR/ERC24

Round 1 of the 2015 WorldRX series fell prey to Petter Solberg (2nd), Johan Kristoffersson (1st) and Timmy Hansen (3rd). © JKR/ERC24

 

Solberg, who won last year’s race in Portugal, added: “It is very important to have a good first race – consistency is as important as winning races in Rallycross. I’ve not been feeling well this weekend and then I lost my gear lever in the Final, so it certainly wasn’t easy but I’m happy with second. Johan has done a very good job this weekend.”

“The Final was like driving on soap, there was no grip and then I lost my power steering – my arms are so tired now,” explained Timmy Hansen. “I’m really happy with the car, it’s very quick but it’s new so we need to make some small changes before our next race. Overall, it’s been a great start to the year and I’m really happy that both I myself and Davy [Jeanney] got to the Final.”

Hungarian Krisztián Szabó, the 2013 European Autocross Champion in ‘Buggy 1600’, took the first Super1600 victory of the season at the wheel of his Škoda Fabia Mk2 in only his second ever WorldRX event. Frenchman Andréa Dubourg secured the runner-up spot while Latvia’s Jānis Baumanis took third place.

 

The lads who took the Super1600 rostrum: Andréa Dubourg, Krisztián Szabó and Jānis Baumanis. © JKR/ERC24

The happy lads who took the Super1600 rostrum: Andréa Dubourg, Krisztián Szabó and Jānis Baumanis. © JKR/ERC24

 

The RX Lites podium with (from left) Kevin Hansen, Kevin Eriksson and Joachim Hvaal. © JKR/ERC24

The RX Lites podium with (from left) Kevin Hansen, Kevin Eriksson and Joachim Hvaal. © JKR/ERC24

 

2014 RX Lites Champion Kevin Eriksson from Sweden picked up where he left off last season with four heat wins and a victory in the all-important Final. His compatriot Kevin Hansen – the younger brother of Timmy – finished second after an impressive weekend of driving, while Norwegian Joachim Hvaal took the third podium spot. 1997 European Rally Champion and Dakar Rally regular Krzysztof Hołowczyc from Poland finished fifth on his Rallycross debut.

 

Polish racing all-rounder and politician Krzysztof Hołowczyc is doing the full 2015 RX Lites series. © JKR/ERC24

Polish racing all-rounder and politician Krzysztof Hołowczyc is doing the full 2015 RX Lites series. © JKR/ERC24

 

Final results of the SuperCars category to be found here.

Final results of the Super1600s category to be found here.

Final results of the RX Lites category to be found here.

 

More of ERC24’s WorldRX of Portugal images to be found here.

 

Top photo: Former tarmac racer Johan Kristoffersson is now walking in the shoes of his father Tommy. © JKR/ERC24