Kristoffersson tops World RX qualifying at Barcelona

Double champion secures pole for semifinal as title rival Ekström struggles with clutch issue


Johan Kristoffersson continued his strong qualifying run in World Rallycross by topping the first morning of action at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The championship leader topped Q1 and Q3, and salvaged second in Q2 with a heat win, despite being pitched onto two wheels as the field came together in turn one in an incident instigated by Robin Larsson who cut across from the outside.

Reigning World Champion Timmy Hansen finished second, showing that Team Hansen’s recent upgrades and intensive testing paid off.

It was a similar story for Andreas Bakkerud, driving the much-improved GCK Renault Mégane R.S. RX. He topped Q2, the first time he’s won a qualifying session all year, and ended qualifying third overall, ahead of Kevin Hansen.

Mattias Ekström was fifth overall, despite battling clutch issues throughout all three sessions. The championship challenger jumped the start in Q1 but took heat wins in Q2 and Q3 despite making slow starts in both.

Ekström bettered Niclas Gronholm who had a relatively quiet qualifying to finish sixth overall, one spot ahead of his GRX Hyundai team-mate Timur Timerzyanov.

Anton Marklund completed the top-eight, ensuring that all three GCK Méganes made it through to the semi-finals for the second round in a row.

Timo Scheider, Liam Doran, Oliver Bennett, and Enzo Ide – the latter two making their first World RX starts of the season – completed the 12 drivers that will advance to the semifinals.

Larsson missed out on advancing by a single qualifying point. After his involvement in the Q2 start incident, he received an unorthodox 10 qualifying point penalty – applied after he retired from the race, rendering a time penalty impossible.

Tamaz Karai, and debutants Patrick Guillerme and Mandie August also failed to advance.

This weekend also marked the long-awaited first round of the 2020 European Super1600 championship.

Unlike the previous Supercar rounds – which featured a single event over the double header World Championship weekends, two S1600 rounds are taking place in Barcelona owing to the cancelation of the Portugal round that was set to take place earlier this month.

Audi driver Gergely Maron led qualifying with two wins from three. He beat Marius Bermingrud, and Yuri Belevskiy to the top spot as A1s locked out five of the top six spots.