Johan Kristoffersson won the first race of the South African double header today (October 7) at Killarney International Raceway as the 2023 FIA World Rallycross Championship resumed. After an absence of four years the World championship returned to the African continent. Kristoffersson won the final on Saturday from Kevin Hansen and Timo Scheider.
The World Championship was on hold since the incident at Lydden Hill back at the end of July, when a fire destroyed both cars of Special ONE Racing. After some changes to the regulations, approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council, a way was found to continue the Drivers’ World Championship. The teams, Kristoffersson Motorsport, Hansen World RX Team, Construction Dealer Equipment Team together with ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport each will race a pair of all identical RX2e cars (branded as ‘Zeroid X1’) in the remaining four rounds of this year’s championship in South Africa and in Hong Kong later on in November.
Another approved change to the regulations impacts the Team championship. It reads now “[…] the Team having scored the highest total of points (the total number of points scored by both of its cars in the three first rounds of the Competition) will be declared FIA World Rallycross Champion.” Therefore Team Kristoffersson Motorsport will go into the books as the 2023 FIA World Rallycross Champion.
As this World RX of South Africa event is a double-header it means the race format consists of three qualifying heats (instead of four) followed by the semi-finals and the finals. The South African race weekend started already on Friday afternoon with a practice session where Johan Kristoffersson set a fastest time. After a warm-up session on Saturday morning the Superpole was next. Despite Johan Kristoffersson was never beaten so far in the Superpole Kevin Hansen managed it to beat his countryman on Saturday morning and as such decide about the pole for the first heat. Behind Kristoffersson Niclas Grönholm set a third time in the Superpole.
In the first heat Kristoffersson won it from pole man Kevin Hansen in the second race and set the fastest time with Ole Christian Veiby a second fastest time. In the second heat Timo Scheider, who was in the second race, drove to the fastest time ahead of Kristoffersson who was in the first race. In the third heat is was Timmy Hansen’s turn to beat Johan Kristoffersson by setting the fastest time of the day, all eventually leading to Kristoffersson finishing on top of the ranking and earning three championship points. Timmy Hansen was ranked second and Scheider third prior to the semi-finals.
In the first semi-final the front row was shared between Kristoffersson and Scheider. Kevin Hansen and Klara Andersson were the other starters. Given that the top 3 makes it into the final only one driver needed to be eliminated. Unfortunately Klara Andersson finished fourth and missed out on a spot in the final. In the second semi-final with Timmy Hansen and Ole Christian Veiby on the front row and Niclas Grönholm and René Münnich on the second row it was the last named who was forced to retire from the race and not making it into the final.
The grid for the 5-lap final was composed with both Kristoffersson Motorsport drivers, Kristoffersson and Veiby, on the front row and the Hansen brothers on the second row. The third row was occupied by Niclas Grönhom and Timo Scheider. When the green light was shown Kristoffersson and Veiby went head to head with eventually Kristoffersson going into the lead ahead of Veiby, Timmy Hansen and Scheider. Then there was some contact between Timmy Hansen and Veiby leading to Veiby retiring from the final. Following that contact, Scheider took the opportunity to move into second ahead of Timmy and Kevin Hansen. With Scheider still to pass through the joker lap section in the final lap Kevin Hansen moved into second after he passed his brother when the latter passed through the joker lap section in the penultimate lap. Kristoffersson was staying out of trouble all the time and was ahead of the others and remains unbeaten in this year’s championship after his fourth win of the season and another maximum points score.
“It’s really good to be back and it’s always nice to win,” Kristoffersson said. “It was a tricky day, but I was lucky enough not to be in the traffic too much. I imagine it was easier for me than for the others, because it was difficult to follow with such limited visibility.”
In the championship with three more rounds to come Kristoffersson (92 points) is leading it with 38 points clear on Kevin Hansen (54 points), who climbs one spot in the standings. Niclas Grönholm is now down to third with 53 points.
The championship continues tomorrow Sunday (October 8) with another round and a second day of action starting at 9am local time with a warm-up session, a Superpole, three qualifying heats, semi-finals and the final.
World RX – Final: 1. Johan Kristoffersson (S), Zeroid X1; 2. Kevin Hansen (S), Zeroid X1; 3. Timo Scheider (D), Zeroid X1; 4. Timmy Hansen (S), Zeroid X1; 5. Niclas Grönholm (FIN), Zeroid X1; 6. Ole Christian Veiby (N), Zeroid X1 – DNF.
World RX (7/10): 1. Johan Kristoffersson (S), 92; 2. Kevin Hansen (S), 54; 3. Niclas Grönholm (FIN), 53; 4. Timmy Hansen (S), 47; 5. Timo Scheider (D), 45; etc.
World RX Team (3/3 – Final Standings): 1. Kristoffersson Motorsport (S), 104; 2. Construction Equipment Dealer Team (S), 72; 3. Hansen World RX Team (S), 71; 4. Special One Racing (F), 46.