With experience in circuit racing, rallying, rallycross, and Extreme E, Johan Kristoffersson is one of the most versatile drivers in modern day motorsport.
Last weekend in Strängnäs, Sweden, the four-time World Rallycross champion added another string to his bow by making his Nitro Rallycross debut. That meant learning a new car, a new format, and many other elements on the fly.
“[It was] very, very tricky. It took me longer than ever to get my hand around the race car, I used to be quite quick on that, but it was really, really tricky,” Kristoffersson told DirtFish. “It took me until the LCQ on Sunday to really figure it out.
“The tire was the biggest thing for me to figure out, but other than that, the head-to-head battles were quite interesting, even though I only got to do one. I’d like to do some more, but otherwise it was helpful for me to be in the team that has experience and some of the fastest drivers in the championship so I can share data and compare myself to.”
Expanding on the tire troubles he faced, Kristoffersson said that the rubber’s circuit racing characteristics made it unusual to use in a rallycross environment without the benefit of prior running like the rest of the field had.
“I’ve used similar tires but not in rallycross, more like in circuit racing,” he explained. “So to use that tire basically like how a circuit racing tire works on a rallycross track, that is what took me some time to figure out.
“Also on top of that, learning the car at the same time, figuring out what, in terms of setup, I like on the car, and then also the format was new, the track was new – my first gap jump ever – and then they like to regrade the surface on the track and the track was changing a lot.”
Having a lot to get to grips within a short amount of time is somewhat expected, but that didn’t stop Kristoffersson branding his Saturday performance, where he lost his first battle bracket race, as “one of my lowest ever”.
“There were so many new things at the same time I was trying to figure out this tire. There were so many new things and so many new impressions at the same time, so that made me take longer than ever to figure out,” he said. “I think how I drove, personally [my] performance on Saturday was one of my lowest ever in terms of driving performance. So it was tricky to reset for Sunday but in the end it worked out.”
Worked out it did – he made the final, albeit via a last chance qualifier win, and went on to claim a podium finish after a closely-fought fight with DRR JC stablemate Fraser McConnell.
But of course, Kristoffersson’s time in Nitro Rallycross is expected to be brief. His main program is in World Rallycross, where he’ll be seeking a record-extending fifth title in six years.
He’ll be competing with his family’s Kristoffersson Motorsport team, which has also signed Ole Christian Veiby and Gustav Bergström – both of whom were also in action in the Nitro Rallycross event, Veiby alongside Kristoffersson in Group E and Bergström in Supercars with KMS.
“We have two cars ready as we speak, we are assembling the third car at the moment,” Kristoffersson said of his team’s preparations for the upcoming World RX campaign. “Some of the mechanics that are working with Gustav Bergström this weekend are packing everything together and are going to go and do the night shift now.
“So it’s going to be a hectic couple of days before we get to Höljes for Friday, Saturday, Sunday for the first test. And then the week after straight away to Norway to do the first race. So it’s going to be very interesting now.
“I did an RX2e test on Monday, I’ve driven this car for three days here, and [at] the end of next week I’m going to drive the first electric car for [World] Rallycross and the race weekend after, so a lot of interesting weeks as we speak,” added the reigning Extreme E champion and current points leader in that series.
“It’s really, really fun and nice to get the opportunity to drive all the four different cars and try to combine them together and try to gather all my experience to make the best of it.”