Johan Kristoffersson extended his winning run in the 2023 FIA World Rallycross Championship with another consummate performance as the season resumed in South Africa on 7 October 2023.
World RX marked its return to Cape Town in spectacular style, as drivers duelled wheel-to-wheel and kicked up the dust at Killarney International Raceway – to the clear delight of an enthusiastic and appreciative audience of trackside spectators.
While Kristoffersson ultimately emerged on top – with his 39th career victory increasing his advantage at the summit of the standings to 38 points over his closest pursuer – the Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS star did not have things all his own way in the ‘Mother City’, where the entire field took to the track in equal machinery for the very first time.
Kevin Hansen broke Kristoffersson’s previously unbeaten record in the single-lap SuperPole shootout, before heat honours went the way of three different drivers.
Kristoffersson exploited an error by the younger of the Hansen brothers in heat one to seize the initiative, which he retained to the chequered flag to post the fastest time of the session. Despite his comparative lack of experience in the all-electric ZEROID X1, Timo Scheider sprung a surprise in heat two as the German outpaced all of his rivals, with Timmy Hansen – who clinched the world championship crown in Cape Town in 2019 – prevailing in heat three.
Kristoffersson’s commendable consistency earned him top qualifier honours ahead of fellow heat winners Hansen and Scheider, and the Swede dominated the opening semi-final before surviving a Turn One squeeze in the final to make good his escape – assisted by a healthy dose of drama in his wake.
“It’s really good to be back and it’s always nice to win. 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.the five-time world champion reflected
“These cars are a little bit different to the ones we are used to driving and the field is really tight. The first couple of corners in the final were pretty exciting and I actually thought I was going to spin in Turn Two; the track also got quite rutted in places, so I just played it safe to avoid any punctures and bring it home. Now we’ll try to do the same again tomorrow.”
The sequence of events behind began when Ole Christian Veiby caught one of the aforementioned ruts midway through the final, pitching him sideways and enabling Timmy Hansen to pull alongside, with contact between the pair into the next corner forcing the Swede onto the grass.
With both drivers delayed, an opportunistic Scheider threaded the needle between them, but the biggest beneficiary in the end was Kevin Hansen, who had already jokered and was able to leapfrog all three to clinch the runner-up spoils.
Scheider narrowly fended off the elder Hansen for third – his second podium finish of the campaign – with Grönholm a distant fifth and Veiby retiring due to the earlier clash.
The action continued on the 08 October 2023 with another full day of racing in Cape Town, keep your fingers on www.extremesportsaction.co.za to find out what happen in the second round of the double header.
FINAL RESULT: WORLD RX
- Johan KRISTOFFERSSON (SWE) Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS 5 laps
- Kevin HANSEN (SWE) Hansen World RX Team + 3.925s
- Timo SCHEIDER (DEU) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport + 4.427s
- Timmy HANSEN (SWE) Hansen World RX Team + 4.710s
- Niclas GRÖNHOLM (FIN) CE Dealer Team + 6.226s
- Ole Christian VEIBY (NOR) Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS + 1 lap