Johan Kristoffersson finally broke his 2021 victory duck by winning the second bout of the World Rallycross Championship’s Latvia double header.
Reigning champion Kristoffersson so far this season has contended with the third-longest winless streak of his otherwise stellar career, with his previous victory in Spain last October.
But he was finally able to get his quest for a fourth world title back on course on Sunday with a record-extending 25th career win. It also, in his Audi, is Kristoffersson’s first World RX win not driving a Volkswagen Polo.
After once again winning his semifinal, he started alongside the other semifinal victor and Saturday winner Niclas Grönholm in the final. Unlike Saturday however, the pair didn’t come together after a fairly even start but Kristoffersson was able to sweep round the outside of the Hyundai driver into turn one. From there, he controlled the race.
Grönholm kept close to Kristoffersson throughout the six-lap main event, but couldn’t find a way past the three-time champion’s Audi. A last gasp effort to undercut Kristoffersson by taking the joker route on lap five didn’t pay off, with Grönholm remaining behind his rival once Kristoffersson took the longer route on the final lap.
The battle for the final podium position was less clear cut however. The top four, including the returning Mattias Ekström and championship-leader Timmy Hansen, could barely be separated early in the race, and Ekström opted to drop out of the train on lap three to gain clear air.
That promoted Timmy Hansen to third, a position he would hold onto until the race’s end, despite emerging from the joker almost equal with Ekström on the final lap.
Behind fourth-placed Ekström was Kevin Hansen, whose 100% podium record for the season ended after he was shuffled to the back of the pack going into the first turn on the opening lap. Despite jokering early to gain clear air, he was unable to recover to claim another top three placing.
Rounding out the final runners was Krisztián Szabó who was offered a late reprieve at the expense of Timo Scheider. Scheider initially qualified for the final by virtue of finishing third in the first semifinal, but an oil leak on the pre-grid ahead of the final forced him to retire. It was the second transmission-related retirement for the two-time DTM champion in as many days.
Timmy Hansen maintains the championship lead with 130 points to brother and team-mate Kevin Hansen’s 113. Kristoffersson’s win moves him to within three points of Kevin Hansen in third place while Grönholm is a further three points back in fourth.
In European RX1 Jānis Baumanis scored a popular win on home soil, ahead of Fabien Pailler and Peter Hedström.
Pailler, as a result, moves to the top of the European RX1 standings ahead of Andreas Bakkerud who failed to make the final. One round of that championship remains, a visit to Spa-Francorchamps on October 9-10.
1 Johan Kristoffersson (Audi)
2 Niclas Grönholm (Hyundai) +0.920s
3 Timmy Hansen (Peugeot) +2.149s
4 Mattias Ekström (Seat) +2.274s
5 Kevin Hansen (Peugeot) +5.525s
6 Krisztián Szabó (Hyundai) +8.161s
1 T Hansen 130 2 K Hansen 103 3 Kristofferson 110 4 Grönholm 107 5 Szabó 88 6 Kevin Abbring 79 7 Scheider 64 8 Enzo Ide 57 9 Juha Rytkönen 43 10 Ekström 37