Johan Kristoffersson took his third win of the World Rallycross season in Latvia, after perfectly executing tire strategy to record a dominant win in the final ahead of championship rival Mattias Ekström.
After the wet conditions in Finland at the end of last month, teams were left with additional unused dry tires to bring to Riga, and Kristoffersson went conservative in qualifying – which left him with five fresh tires for the semifinal and final stage.
The double champion used three of them in his semifinal, in which he sealed victory, and then took new boots on the front for the final.
The story of Kristoffersson’s victory wasn’t all down to tires though. He had to resist pressure from Robin Larsson going into the first corner, but the fast-starting Audi driver ran too deep and was collected by the field.
That slowed the rest of the pack, allowing Kristoffersson to comfortably get away.
Kevin Hansen was another who got away well, despite starting from the back row of the grid, but he immediately faced pressure from Ekström. Hansen backed out of the fight by taking his joker on the second lap of the race – a move to cover off Niclas Grönholm, who took the longer route on the opening lap after missing out at the start.
Hansen’s joker freed up Ekström to have a go at Kristoffersson, but he wasn’t able to make a dent in the dominant Volkswagen driver’s lead. His pace however meant that when he took his joker on lap four, he was able to keep both Hansen and Grönholm behind.
Timmy Hansen, another victim of the first lap shunt, had worked his way through the field and was sitting in second until he took the joker on the final lap, a call that dropped him behind Ekström.
Despite that, his pace in the intervening laps meant that he emerged ahead of his brother Kevin and Grönholm to take his second podium of the season, as the rostrum was locked out by world champions.
After his lap-one moment, Larsson finished in sixth, last of the final runners, behind Kevin Hansen and Grönholm – who made contact with the wall at Turn 8 on the penultimate lap as he tried to pass the Peugeot driver.
Andreas Bakkerud narrowly missed out on a final berth after fighting his way through the field with Timmy Hansen – with whom he made contact on the opening lap of their semifinal.
He was joined by local star Reinis Nitišs and Krisztián Szabó who, despite both starting strongly, couldn’t match the pace of the frontrunners.
Timo Scheider, taking the place of Münnich Motorsport team-mate and team boss René Münnich after he forfeited his position, Timur Timerzyanov, and Liam Doran, who suffered yet another failure, also failed to advance from the semis.
Just before the Supercar final, the second part of qualifying for round two of the inaugural Projekt E season also took place.
Cyril Raymond emerged victorious, giving Citroën its first win in the category with its R5-based C3 ERX. The win came despite the car shedding its rear wing on the second lap of the four-lap contest.
Raymond beat Jānis Baumanis – who sits equal on qualifying points with Raymond overnight – Natalie Barratt, and Svein Bjarte Holten.