Johan Kristoffersson cut Timmy Hansen’s championship lead to nine points with a dominant win in a truncated penultimate round of the World Rallycross season at the Nürburgring.
The Audi driver took maximum points through a shortened qualifying session before adding a semifinal and final win to his haul for the day.
Qualifying was already cut from four rounds to three because of this weekend’s double-header format, but was then shortened further to just two rounds due to a combination of delays for track preparation in the icy and snowy conditions, and a stoppage after a hefty crash for ‘Knapick’ in Q1.
In the final, Kristoffersson took an early lead, beating series debutant Yury Belevskiy into turn one. Behind them, Niclas Grönholm was hit by Enzo Ide and then Timmy Hansen, who was charging through from the back after being hit with a penalty in the semifinals for another turn one incident involving Ide.
Kristoffersson meanwhile immediately set about building a lead, with Belevskiy under pressure from Timmy Hansen behind.
Hansen opted to joker on the second lap to get some clear air to help him overhaul recently-crowned European RX3 Champion Belevskiy. While he emerged ahead of Krisztián Szabó, who’d jokered himself on the opening tour, he emerged behind Grönholm who had yet to take the longer route.
That could have derailed his charge, but with Belevskiy and Grönholm both jokering on the final lap, he was able to move up to second in the dying moment of the six-lap contest.
Kristoffersson meanwhile was unstoppable out in front, finishing 3.699 seconds ahead of Hansen.
Capping off a remarkable debut at rallycross’s top level, Belevskiy finished third, ahead of Szabó who now slips out of title contention with one round remaining.
Ide was the only retiree from the final, his race ending on lap one after a clash with a barrier following his shunt with Grönholm and Timmy Hansen.
Kevin Hansen, one of five drivers who entered the weekend with a shot at the title, failed to make the final for the first time this year.
A disappointing qualifying with a brace of second places was compounded with a stall at the start of his semifinal. That leaves him 31 points adrift of his championship leading brother Timmy with just 30 available in Sunday’s season finale.
Despite his disappointing final, Grönholm does remain mathematically in contention, but his best chance is to equal Timmy Hansen’s points haul with a clean sweep of the final round.
That would give him the title on countback as he would have more event wins than Hansen, but would require the 2019 champion to not score a single point which is highly unlikely unless he fails to start qualifying and doesn’t take part beyond that.
That means the title is effectively a two-horse race now between the series’ two most recent champions: Hansen and Kristoffersson.
Kristoffersson’s Nürburgring win does make him the first three-time event winner this season, but a difficult start the year meant he arrived to Germany behind Hansen who has only been off the podium once so far this season.
Final results (6 laps)
1 Johan Kristoffersson (Audi) 3m44.666s
2 Timmy Hansen (Peugeot) +3.699s
3 Yury Belevskiy (Audi) +4.644s
4 Krisztián Szabó (Hyundai) +5.077s
5 Niclas Grönholm (Hyundai) +5.751s
Ret Enzo Ide (Audi)
1 T Hansen 200 2 Kristoffersson 191 3 Grönholm 170 4 Kevin Hansen 169 5 Szabó 146 6 Ide 106 7 Kevin Abbring 97 8 Timo Scheider 75 9 Juha Rytkönen 52 10 Mattias Ekström 37