Niclas Grönholm (PWR Hyundai i20 RX1e) is the driver who ended Johan Kristoffersson’s winning streak in the 2022 FIA World Rallycross Championship. The Finn became winner of round 5 of the series at Montalegre in Portugal today (September 18). Ole Christian Veiby (VW Polo RX1e) claimed second place and Klara Andersson (PWR Hyundai i20 RX1e) completed the success for Construction Equipment Dealer Team in third. In the FIA European Rallycross Championship there were wins for Belgian drivers Enzo Ide (Audi S1) in RX1 and for Kobe Pauwels (Audi A1) in RX3. In both categories also the title was decided with Anton Marklund (Hyundai i20) becoming the 2022 European RX1 champion and Kobe Pauwels the 2022 European RX3 champion.
Sunday morning’s free practice at Montalegre went to Niclas Grönholm while there was another problem for Ole Christian Veiby whose car shut down and influenced the second session. However things were fine again for the SuperPole shootout. Grönholm was on top of the leaderboard when Veiby went out on the track and improved Grönholm’s time with about 0.4 seconds. Then only Kristoffersson was the one to come and he drove his car to the fastest time and won, just like yesterday, the SuperPole.
Then in the two heats Kristoffersson set the fastest times but afterwards he got beaten in the first progression race by Kevin Hansen (Peugeot 208 RX1e). Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208 RX1e) won the second progression race. Based on the progression race results Kevin Hansen, Niclas Grönholm, Klara Andersson and René Münnich were lined up for the first semi-final while Timmy Hansen, Johan Kristoffersson and Ole Christian Veiby were the starters in the second semi-final. Gustav Bergström (VW Polo RX1e) was no longer allowed to start after he arrived late for his progression race.
Grönholm won the first semi-final after having lead it from lights to flag. Kevin Hansen spun the Peugeot after the first corner in a contact with Grönholm and shortly afterwards the semi-final was over for him. Grönholm and teammate Klara Andersson qualified for the final. Kristoffersson managed it to come out of the first corner in the second semi-final chased by Timmy Hansen. None of them went for an early joker therefore both passed through it in the final lap. However, that was the moment it went wrong for Timmy Hansen as he spun his car in the joker lap section. Kristoffersson and Veiby made it one and two and qualified for the final while Timmy Hansen became the fifth qualifier.
In that final, Timmy Hansen, who had to start from the outside, was first in the first corner. Kristoffersson and Andersson stayed on the main track while Grönholm and Veiby immediately made it into the joker lap section. Then in the second lap a contact between race leader Timmy Hansen and Kristoffersson made the first named, after he passed through the joker lap section, dropping back to last place. With Andersson passing through the joker lap section Grönholm climbed to second place behind Kristoffersson. With Kristoffersson passing through the joker lap section in the final lap he managed it to join the main track again ahead of Grönholm and as such to pass the finish line first. However, due to the incident with Timmy Hansen, the Stewards of the Meeting gave a ten seconds time penalty to Kristoffersson and therefore Grönholm was declared winner with Ole Christian Veiby second and Klara Andersson completing the success for Construction Equipment Dealer Team by claiming the last podium spot.
“I hoped we could be challenging for a podium, and in the end we did,” Niclas Grönholm said afterwards.
“From the progression race onwards, I had a good feeling in the car, and I was confident of challenging for that podium in the final if we got the tactics right. I made a few mistakes towards the end, without which I think I could have got Johan [Kristoffersson] anyway.
“I guess we did something right, and this is something that will boost for the coming races this year.
“It feels especially great to stand on the podium together with my teammate Klara [Andersson].”
“What a weekend, especially as this is my first time driving here,” Andersson commented. “It was one of the most difficult but fun tracks I’ve ever raced on. I’m really proud of the teamwork and progress we’ve had.
“To claim my first FIA World RX podium is of course amazing, but I’m above all proud of the development I’ve made with my pace in the final. This is a well-needed boost for everyone in the team and that we will carry with us for the next round,”
Championship leader Johan Kristoffersson said afterwards that he disagreed with the time penalty he received.
“I don’t agree with this decision,” he said. “If you misjudge a situation and get penalized, that’s ok. But I can’t understand how they can find me guilty in a situation where he [Timmy Hansen] turns in on me”.
In the championship standings after five events Kristoffersson remains in the lead with 91 points, 21 points clear on his teammate Ole Christian Veiby (70 points). Timmy Hansen is third with 66 points.
In Euro RX1 Anton Marklund drove to the fastest time in the third heat. Enzo Ide (Audi S1), who had the overnight lead, was second fastest in the third heat and was on top of the ranking before heading into the progression races. Jānis Baumanis (Peugeot 208), who needed a win this weekend in order to keep a chance on the title, went further down to fifth spot in the ranking after setting a 12th time in the third heat. Following the three progression races with wins for Ide, Marklund – beating Baumanis – and Ulrik Linnemann (Ford Fiesta Mk7) the first semi-final had among others Ide and Marklund while the second semi-final had among others Linnemann and Baumanis.
Enzo Ide won the start in the first semi-final and lead it from Marklund. When Marklund passed through the joker lap section Ide responded the lap after and as such both remained one and two and secured their spot for the final. Jānis Baumanis won the second semi-final holding off Ulrik Linnemann. The fifth spot in the final was taken by Marcin Gagacki (Ford Fiesta Mk7) after an incident between Hungarians Támas Kárai (Audi S1) and Attila Mózer (Ford Fiesta Mk7) preventing Kárai from a qualification for the final.
The Euro RX1 final saw Enzo Ide going into the lead ahead of Baumanis with Marklund passing through the joker lap section in the opening lap. Marklund climbed from fifth to fourth and was then challenging Linnemann for third. Baumanis went into the joker lap section in the penultimate lap with Ide doing the same iin the final lap. Ide stayed in the lead and won the event, his first career win in the European championship. Baumanis came in second and that meant – as the Latvian absolutely needed a win – that Anton Marklund became the European champion in the Euro RX1 category. In the championship standings Marklund is on top with 80 points while Baumanis is second with 58 points.
In Euro RX3 Kobe Pauwels was quickest in the third heat putting him on top of the ranking ahead of Jan Černý (Škoda Citigo). After the three progression races Pauwels and Černý were in the first semi-final and both finished first and second and moved on to the final. The second semi-final saw João Ribeiro (Audi A1) and Damian Litwinowicz (Audi A1) as qualifiers for the final. Nuno Araújo (Audi A1) was best of the third place finishers and completed the line-up for the RX3 final.
Pauwels won the start and was leading a car length when the field went into the first corner. He was followed by Ribeiro and Černý. Černý went further down in the field when he passed through the joker lap section in the third lap. Pauwels and Ribeiro both passed through the joker lap section in the final lap allowing Damian Litwinowicz and Nuno Araújo to move into second and third respectively. Therefore Pauwels came in first and secured himself the title in the 2022 FIA European Rallycross Championship for RX3 cars. Ribeiro and Litwinowicz joined Pauwels on the podium. In the standings Pauwels is leading it with 76 points. He is now 24 points clear on Litwinowicz who is second with 52 points.
The next round of the 2022 FIA World Rallycross Championship, another double header event, is taking place on October 8-9 at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
World RX – Final: 1. Niclas Grönholm (FIN), PWR Hyundai i20 RX1e; 2. Ole Christian Veiby (N), VW Polo RX1e; 3. Klara Andersson (S), PWR Hyundai i20 RX1e; 4. Timmy Hansen (S), Peugeot 208 RX1e; 5. Johan Kristoffersson (S), VW Polo RX1e.
World RX Team: 1. Construction Equipment Dealer Team (S), 33; 2. Kristoffersson Motorsport (S), 27; 3. Hansen World RX Team (S), 21.
Euro RX1 – Final: 1. Enzo Ide (B), Audi S1; 2. Jānis Baumanis (LV), Peugeot 208; 3. Ulrik Linnemann (DK), Ford Fiesta Mk7; 4. Anton Marklund (S), Hyundai i20; 5. Marcin Gagacki (PL), Ford Fiesta Mk7.
Euro RX3 – Final: 1. Kobe Pauwels (B), Audi A1; 2. Damian Litwinowicz (PL), Audi A1; 3. Nuno Araújo (P), Audi A1; 4. Jan Černý (CZ), Škoda Citigo; 5. João Ribeiro (P), Audi A1.
World RX (5/11): 1. Johan Kristoffersson (S), 91; 2. Ole Christian Veiby (N), 70; 3. Timmy Hansen (S), 66; 4. Kevin Hansen (S), 62; 5. Niclas Grönholm (FIN), 60; etc.
World RX Team (5/11): 1. Kristoffersson Motorsport (S), 161; 2. Hansen World RX Team (S), 128; 3. Construction Equipment Dealer Team (S), 112.
Euro RX1 (5/6): 1. Anton Marklund (S), 80; 2. Jānis Baumanis (LV), 58; 3. Enzo Ide (B), 55; 4. Sivert Svardal (N), 45; 5. Sondre Evjen (N), 40; etc.
Euro RX3 (4/5): 1. Kobe Pauwels (B), 76; 2. Damian Litwinowicz (PL), 52; 3. João Ribeiro (P), 47; 4. Jan Černý CZ), 42; 5. Nuno Araújo (P), 34; etc.