KRISTOFFERSSON SLIPS TO GLORY

Volk­swa­gen driver dom­i­nates in France. By Hal Ridge

Motor Sport News - - World RallyCross : France - RE­SULTS FIA World Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship pre­sented by Mon­ster En­ergy, Lo­heac, France. Round 8/12 Pho­tos: Hal Ridge, mck­lein-im­agedase.com

Awet and slip­pery track and rough weather are sup­posed to be the en­e­mies of rac­ing driv­ers, but to Jo­han Kristoffersson, they are more friend than foe. The Swedish driver, al­most with­out fail, al­ways ex­cels on a chal­leng­ing track and it was no dif­fer­ent last week­end at Lo­heac.

But, while Kristoffersson dom­i­nated the third and fourth qual­i­fy­ing ses­sions dur­ing the World Ral­ly­cross round on Sun­day morn­ing, the track was dry for the semi-fi­nals and fi­nal. The Swede wasn’t sure if he would be able to re­main at the front for the lat­ter part of the day.

He couldn’t have been more wrong, and went on to dom­i­nate both his semi-fi­nal and fi­nal to earn the first vic­tory of the sea­son for both him­self and the Volk­swa­gen RX Swe­den team.

The open­ing day of the event hadn’t gone Kristoffersson’s way though, and it was cham­pi­onship pro­tag­o­nist Mat­tias Ek­strom who topped the time sheets in both Q1 and Q2 to lead into day two. To­gether with Kristoffersson, DTM cham­pion Ek­strom is one of he best door-to-door rac­ers in the World RX field, and he played it safe in Q3 and Q4 on Sun­day morn­ing to be sec­ond and third fastest re­spec­tively and top the In­ter­me­di­ate Clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

That was all part of his plan. What wasn’t in the plan was for An­dreas Bakkerud to pass him af­ter the joker lap exit on the fifth lap of the semi-fi­nal and, al­though the con­tact be­tween the Ford Fo­cus and Audi S1 was slight, it was enough to dam­age Ek­strom’s front-left tyre. It de­flated near­ing the end of the fi­nal lap, which al­lowed Pet­ter Sol­berg and Rei­nis Ni­tiss past.

Ek­strom was dumped to fourth, out of the fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing po­si­tions and out of con­tention for a fourth win of the sea­son. Ek­strom had drawn level with Sol­berg for the lead of the cham­pi­onship at the In­ter­me­di­ate Clas­si­fi­ca­tion, with Sol­berg sixth over­all af­ter qual­i­fy­ing stages.

Hav­ing lost the points lead to Sol­berg at the pre­vi­ous round in Canada, it looked as if Ek­strom would claw back the ad­van­tage fol­low­ing his qual­i­fy­ing per­for­mance, but not mak­ing the fi­nal didn’t help his cause.

Kristoffersson made the best start in the fi­nal from pole po­si­tion to seize the lead. Be­hind, Sol­berg jumped from the sec­ond row to pass semi-fi­nal one win­ner Bakkerud at Turn 1, only to lose the place again as the pair headed out of Turn 2 to­wards the hair­pin. As the Nor­we­gian ri­vals bat­tled, Se­bastien Loeb climbed to sec­ond, hav­ing started along­side for­mer World Rally ri­val Sol­berg on row two.

Sol­berg and Bakkerud con­tin­ued to fight for the open­ing lap, ex­chang­ing po­si­tions, be­fore Sol­berg took his com­pul­sory joker lap at the sec­ond op­por­tu­nity. Bakkerud, who quickly caught Loeb in sec­ond, took his joker on lap three, but Loeb did too. Side-by­side, the pair made con­tact, the home

Driv­ers: 1 Sol­berg 181pts; 2 Mat­tias Ek­strom 176; 3 Kristoffersson 158; 4 Bakkerud 157; 5 Loeb 141; 6 Timmy Hansen 117. Teams: 1 EKS 275, 2 Team Peu­geot-hansen 258; 3 Volk­swa­gen RX Swe­den 217; 4 Hooni­gan Rac­ing Di­vi­sion 210; 5 World RX Team Aus­tria 126; 6 Ols­bergsmse 80. Su­per1600 (6 laps): 1 Krisz­tian Sz­abo (Skoda Fabia) 4m08.867s; 2 Ul­rik Lin­ne­mann (Peu­geot 208) +0.565s; 3 Josef Susta (Skoda Fabia); 4 Enzo Lib­ner (Re­nault Twingo); 5 Max­imil­lien Eveno (Citroen C2); 6 Kas­paras Nav­ickas (Skoda Fabia).

hero los­ing the po­si­tion to Bakkerud’s Ford Fo­cus. Mean­while, Ken Block started in his sec­ond fi­nal of the sea­son on a track on which he fin­ished fourth in 2014. He climbed to sec­ond by the end of lap three, thanks to those ahead hav­ing taken their joker laps.

Kristoffersson took his joker on lap five, re­turn­ing to the lead while Block un­leashed the train of cars be­hind him by also tak­ing a fifth-lap joker. Bakkerud climbed to sec­ond with Sol­berg third and Loeb fourth, but the rally aces would swap places on the fi­nal lap, Loeb pulling off a good pass at the hair­pin, hav­ing at­tempted a sim­i­lar move a lap ear­lier.

Kristoffersson won with Bakkerud scor­ing his fourth con­sec­u­tive podium and Loeb mak­ing his loyal home fans cheer by bring­ing his Peu­geot 208 home in third. “My car and my driv­ing style suit the wet con­di­tions well,” said Kristoffersson. “I just got my head down in the semi-fi­nal and fi­nal. In the fi­nal I made a good start then I was just try­ing to stay away from the kerbs.”

Sol­berg’s fourth place gives him a five-point lead over Ek­strom in the ti­tle race, while Ni­tiss com­pleted his fi­nal week­end for the Mun­nich Mo­tor­sport team with a first fi­nal start with the team that re­sulted in fifth. The po­si­tion would have been sixth, had it not been for Block crash­ing out on the fi­nal lap.

Kevin Hansen made it into the semi-fi­nals in his Peu­geot 208 and was clas­si­fied in 11th place.

Bri­tandy Scott also made the semi-fi­nals ( see side­bar) while Ir­ish­man Ol­lie O’dono­van won his Q1 race on-track but had a dra­matic time in his other qual­i­fy­ing races and wound up 27th over­all.

ROUND-UP

Vic­to­ries for Joe Court­ney on both days of the Done­gal Hill­climb week­end clinched the Nay­lor En­gi­neer­ing Na­tional Hill­climb and Sprint Cham­pi­onship, re­peat­ing his ti­tle of last year.

Head­ing into the fi­nal two rounds at Knock­alla, Court­ney’s only ri­val for the crown, Michael Con­nolly, needed to win on both Satur­day and Sun­day, but his chal­lenge was ended when his Gould slid off the road on the open­ing day.

This left Court­ney to bring his Rey­nard home in top po­si­tion each time, ce­ment­ing his sec­ond cham­pi­onship in style.

Alex Wils­don Ju­nior and Rory Stephens took turns at fin­ish­ing sec­ond and third, driv­ing their Rad­i­cals.

Paul Mooney took an early lead in the Hewi­son Au­totest Cham­pi­onship, win­ning both days of the Mun­ster and Cork clubs’ week­end at Bal­lyvour­ney.

On Satur­day, he was 19s ahead of Robin Lyons, with West­field driver Timmy Lynch close be­hind, whilst next day, six times cham­pion Steven Fer­gu­son was the run­ner-up, 12 sec­onds down.

Done­gal Mo­tor Club Septem­ber 3/4 Knock­alla, Port­sa­lon, Co Done­gal Satur­day 69, Sun­day 65. 1 Joe Court­ney (Rey­nard 913-Peu­geot) 38.74s; 2 Alex Wils­don Jr (Rad­i­cal PR6) +2.79s; 3 Rory Stephens (Rad­i­cal SR8 Hayabusa); 4 Rus­sell Stan­worth (Rey­nard RF81 Opel); 5 John Don­nelly (Rey­nard SF80); 6 John Ma­hon (DJ-ADS1 Hayabusa); 7 Ger­ard O’con­nell (Es­cort); 8 Peter Mckin­ley (Es­cort); 9 Wes­ley Pat­ter­son (Es­cort); 10 Robert Bell (Crossle 30F-hayabusa). 1 Court­ney 38.46s; 2 Stephens +2.36s; 3 Wils­don Jr; 4 Don­nelly; 5 Stan­worth; 6 Ma­hon; 7 Pat­ter­son; 8 Dwane; 9 Mckin­ley; 10 Thomas Corey (Delta T91).

Win The large crowd her­alded Swede’s Kristoffersson took his first win this sea­son

Loeb took a podium fin­ish

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