Johan Kristoffersson (Audi S1) is the new FIA World Rallycross Champion. The Swede finished fourth on Sunday (November 28) in the final round of the 2021 FIA World Rallycross Championship at the Nürburgring Müllenbachschleife. He ended the championship equal on points in the standings with Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208). Kristoffersson was able to claim a fourth World title based on the higher number of wins. Niclas Grönholm (Hyundai i20) drove to victory in the final round of the 2021 season.
In Q1 Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen were, according to yesterday’s draw for the starting positions, in separate races. First out on the track was [Timmy] Hansen who won race two in the, at that moment, fastest time. Kristoffersson won the next Q3 race and beat [Timmy] Hansen’s time in order to set a first fastest time on Sunday. In Q2 the two title contenders where together in the final race. [Timmy] Hansen first beat Kristoffersson in the start. Then the latter went into the joker lap section with [Timmy] Hansen doing the same the lap after in order to stay ahead of Kristoffersson. Ffastest time in Q2 however was set by Enzo Ide (Audi S1) with Hansen and Kristoffersson classified second and third.
The final Q3 race had Ide on pole with Kristoffersson on position three. Placed in between the two KYB EKS JC drivers was [Timmy] Hansen. Kristoffersson was the one after the start coming out of turn one leading the field. He managed it to come in first and most important for him ahead of [Timmy] Hansen. Therefore Kristoffersson was the top qualifier ahead of [Timmy] Hansen and as such brought the point difference in the championship standings prior to the semi-finals down to three. Enzo Ide qualified third ahead of GRX-SET drivers Niclas Grönholm and Krisztián Szábo (Hyundai i20).
In the first semi-final Kristoffersson had the better start from pole with teammate Enzo Ide going in second. Guerlain Chicherit (Renault Megan Mk4) ran in third. With Chicherit in the penultimate lap and Kristoffersson and Ide in the final lap passing through the joker lap section positions didn’t change and all three were through to the final. In the other semi-final with Timmy Hansen on pole a similar story was written. After contact in the first turn between Timmy Hansen and the other front row starter Niclas Grönholm, both of the Hansens ran one (Timmy) and two (Kevin). Timmy [Hansen] came in ahead of Kevin [Hansen] (Peugeot 208) after six laps on the track. Grönholm worked his way up after the turn one incident to finish third and to qualify also for the last final of the season. For his action on Grönholm Timmy Hansen received a seven seconds time penalty from the Stewards afterwards and was set back to third in the semi-final result and therefore he was allowed to start the final only from the last row instead of the front row.
With the maths done, Kristoffersson then started the all-decisive last final of the season with only one point behind Timmy Hansen in the championship standings. Kevin Hansen was the other front row starter in the final. The second row was occupied by Enzo Ide and Niclas Grönholm with Guerlain Chicherit and Timmy Hansen completing the grid on the last row.
When the final went underway Kevin Hansen beat Kristoffersson in the start. Kristoffersson, closely followed by Timmy Hansen, both went into the joker lap section in the opening lap. Kevin Hansen did the same in the lap after allowing Niclas Grönholm to go into the lead. From there Kevin Hansen tried to help his brother as much as possible but Timmy Hansen was off the pace and did not really have the possibility to seek the battle with Kristoffersson. Grönholm won the final and Kevin Hansen came in second on a distance. With Kristoffersson finishing third and Timmy Hansen fourth both ended the season equal on points in the championship standings. Kristoffersson was awarded a fourth FIA World Rallycross Champion title based on the higher number of wins, i.e. three wins for Kristoffersson and two for Timmy Hansen.
“What an absolutely unbelievable weekend,” Kristoffersson commented after realizing he was the World champion.
“We had a tough start to 2021, and from coming here 17 points behind, to then finish on equal points, it will take some time for this to all sink in, to be honest.
“To win the championship after starting out with a new team and in a new car this year is just fantastic. It means a lot.
“We were chasing our tail a little bit early in the season, and it’s been a real comeback since Riga.
“Everybody in this sport works so hard, and that sweet feeling of winning is what it’s all about. When I went back to the team awning after not being able to start the final in France, everybody was in tears.
“Today, I hope they’re all in tears again, only for a far happier reason.”
Kristoffersson and Hansen are both ending the Drivers’ championship with 217 points. Today’s winner Niclas Grönholm is third in the final standings with 197 points.
Despite not having won the drivers title there was still success for Timmy Hansen as Hansen World RX Team clinched the Teams’ championship title – for the third time in the history of the team – after having led the championship from the first day of the season.
“We have worked well as a team this year with great co-operation between everyone involved,” said multiple Rallycross champion and Hansen World RX Team team principal Kenneth Hansen.
“I’m proud of every member of this team for giving us everything they had in 2021.”
In the RX2e category the round at the Nürburgring Müllenbachschleife was also the final round of the 2021 championship. Title contenders in the official support category to the FIA World Rallycross Championship were points leader before Germany Guillaume De Ridder (RX2e) from Belgium and Jesse Kallio (RX2e) from Finland. Both were tied for the lead in the intermediate classification after Saturday’s Q1 and Q2. On Sunday Kallio beat De Ridder twice in the remaining qualifyings to become the top qualifier. De Ridder was second ahead of Patrick O’Donovan (RX2e) and Kobe Pauwels (RX2e), the Belgian who debuted in the RX2e category this weekend.
In the semi-finals there were wins for respectively Jesse Kallio and Guillaume De Ridder. Pepe Arqué (RX2e) and Isak Sjökvist (RX2e) were the other qualifiers for the final following the first semi-final while Kobe Pauwels and Pablo Suárez (RX2e) got there ticket for the final through the second semi-final. De Ridder’s qualification for the final made him the first FIA RX2e Champion (apart from a very unlikely situation with De Ridder getting disqualified from the final and Kallio winning the final).
“I realized I was the champion from the moment that I was coming out of the joker lap section in front of Kobe Pauwels and I knew he [Pauwels] wouldn’t take any further risks,” De Ridder said after his semi-final win.
Afterwards in the final De Ridder ended the season in style with a win in the final beating Jesse Kallio. Pablo Suárez won it for third from Kobe Pauwels.
In the final standings Guillaume De Ridder wins it with 134 points. Jesse Kallio and Pablo Suárez are second and third with respectively 123 and 76 points.
With World RX of Germany that came to an end today, also the internal combustion engine era has come to an end in World RX as from next season on the FIA World Rallycross Championship will be – similar to RX2e – a full electric series.
It is expected that a calendar for the 2022 season will be announced before the end of the year.
World RX – Final: 1. Niclas Grönholm (FIN), Hyundai i20; 2. Kevin Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 3. Johan Kristoffersson (S), Audi S1; 4. Timmy Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; ; 5.Guerlain Chicherit (F), Audi S1; 6. Enzo Ide (B), Audi S1.
RX2e – Final: 1. Guillaume De Ridder (B), RX2e; 2. Jesse Kallio (FIN), RX2e; 3. Pable Suárez (E), RX2e; 4. Kobe Pauwels (B), RX2e; 5. Isak Sjökvist (S), RX2e; 6. Pepe Arqué (E), RX2e.
World RX (9/9): 1. Johan Kristoffersson (S), 217; 2. Timmy Hansen (S), 217; 3. Niclas Grönholm (FIN), 197; 4. Kevin Hansen (S), 191; 5. Krisztián Szabó (H), 162; etc;
World RX Team (9/9): 1. Hansen World RX Team (S), 408; 2. GRX-SET World RX Team (FIN), 359; 3. KYB EKS JC (S), 342;
RX2e (5/5): 1. Guillaume De Ridder (B), 134; 2. Jesse Kallio (FIN), 123; 3. Pablo Suárez (E), 76; 4. Patrick O’Donovan (IRL), 76; 5. Isak Sjökvist (S), 72; etc.