Johan Kristoffersson claimed his fourth win of the World Rallycross season in Barcelona, albeit in controversial fashion.
The two-time champion fought back from a difficult qualifying run to win his semifinal, giving him a front row starting slot for the main event.
At the start, Kristoffersson got away well, but squeezed fellow semifinal victor and pole position starter Andreas Bakkerud into the first corner. Bakkerud caught the wall as a direct result of that, pitching him into a spin.
That left him stranded in the middle of the track with the pack coming at him – Robin Larsson hit him in the driver’s side door with enough force to lift his rear wheels off the ground.
The incident immediately took Bakkerud and Larsson out of the race, but the race itself continued.
Kristoffersson got away from the first corner scramble, albeit missing a lot of front bodywork. Timmy Hansen meanwhile snuck through the inside at turn one, past the stricken Bakkerud and set about hunting down Kristoffersson.
For the next couple of laps, Hansen hounded Kristoffersson, but the Volkswagen driver held firm at the front. Sensing the need to cover him off, Kristoffersson took the joker on the third lap of the six-lap race to afford him some clean air to build a gap over the reigning champion.
On that same lap Mattias Ekström, recovering from a poor start front eh second row off the grid, made a mistake going into the final corner, missing his braking point and running off the course. That all but ended any hope he had of disrupting Kristoffersson’s charge for the win.
Up front, Hansen couldn’t make the most of the lead handed to him by Kristoffersson jokering, and Kristoffersson had set about taking time out of Hansen’s lead.
The gap fell to less than half a second by the time Hansen opted for the joker on the final lap – with the joker delta time being around 2.8 seconds longer than the standard lap. That meant that Krstofferssson retook the lead on the final lap of the race, and cruised home for a record-extending 24th win.
Anton Marklund, who escaped the first corner carnage then jokered early on, followed Hansen home in third to claim his first podium finish of the season, while Ekström was the final driver to make the finish in fourth.
Ahead of the final, Kevin Hansen missed a shot at a second consecutive podium after finishing his semifinal in fourth place, thus missing out on a Final berth. The Peugeot driver was squeezed at the start by Ekström, allowing Kristoffersson to pass both in the first corner.
Timo Scheider and Tamas Karai also missed out on advancing from the first Semi, while GRC Hyundai duo Niclas Gronholm and Timur Timerzyanov both failed to advance from the second along with Enzo Ide who made the semifinals for the first time in his short rallycross career.
Despite a tough start to the day in qualifying, Kristoffersson’s semi and final wins, along with Ekström’s failure to win either of the final two races of the day means that he now has a 27-point advantage – with a maximum of 30 available at each of the remaining two rounds.
Timmy Hansen’s back-to-back podiums in Barcelona ensures that he remains in with a mathematical chance of a second title, although he currently trails Kristoffersson by 56 points.
In the Teams’ championship, JC Raceteknik maintains its lead, holding a 16-point advantage over Team Hansen, with GRX a further 70 points back in third.
In European Super1600, Yuri Belevskiy made it two wins from two, beating Marat Kniazev and chief championship rival Gergely Marton.
Belevskiy now holds an eight-point advantage over the Hungarian with one round remaining of the condensed season, shortened as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.