Johan Kristoffersson’s return to the World Rallycross championship after a year exploring touring car racing and rallying brings him back to a series he may have dominated in the past, but it’s one that is radically different to before.
There’s new races, new drivers, and the massive manufacturer interest that defined the championship in the Swede’s title-winning years is now long gone. There are more questions than there are answers when it comes to Kristoffersson second bite at the World RX cherry, so let’s take a look at the key talking points…
Nowadays World RX is a privateers game, with the Hansens, GRX, EKS, and GC Kompetition all using cars developed in-house from factory platforms. It’s a much more level playing field than before and Kristoffersson will have to get his elbows out once again. Race wins are likely, a season sweep is not.
While the car he’s driving this year will the same half-GRC Beetle, half-WRC Polo monster that he drove before – albeit the chassis that Petter Solberg drove previously – it will be run in-house by his family’s team. While it’s safe to assume it might not be as dominant as it was in the past, it’s also safe to assume that lessons learned in his years in the works team will be put into use.
The other drivers
Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud were already formidable forces during Kristoffersson’s first spell in the series, but free from the restrictions of their equipment from previous years, the pair have grown into World RX’s undisputed top-dogs, joined by Kevin Hansen and Niclas Gronholm.
There’s no Solberg, Ekstrom, or Loeb this time around, so while the faces at the top may look somewhat different, the competition level most certainly is not. In fact, if 2019’s anything to go by, the fight for supremacy will be even closer.
The gaps between the top drivers closed considerably last year in what was the closest and most entertaining World RX season to date, and adding Kristoffersson to that mix will only spice things up further.
This won’t be a problem. Not one bit.
Since Kristoffersson last raced in World RX the calendar’s had a bit of a shuffle, withe some venues dropping off and the likes of Abu Dhabi, Spa-Francorchamps, and the Nürburgring joining the fray.
Of the 17 World RX venues Kristoffersson has raced at previously, he’s won at 12 of them, and the remaining five all disappeared from the calendar by his most recent campaign. He was the first winner at South Africa, Silverstone, and Circuit of the Americas, so adapting to new venues (as well as disciplines) has always been one of Kristoffersson’s strengths.
The previous successes at World RX of Great Britain’s second home and the US bode well for Abu Dhabi, which joined the calendar last year, because all three are similar Formula 1 circuit-based tracks, while Spa and the Nürburgring have more of a classic vibe to them that he’s proven to be equally adept at.