Double World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson has explained how a semi-deliberate move led to the penalty he received during his epic Höljes battle with Mattias Ekström.
The 5s penalty Kristoffersson received for a third hit of the marker bollards at the chicane on the entry to the joker lap section cost him second place – which was gifted to Kevin Hansen – but his tagret Ekström had narrowly beat him on-the-road to victory anyway.
After the race Kristoffersson revealed he’d been trying to get himself right on the cusp of a penalty without triggering one, only to stray a little too far.
The 2017-18 champion headed into round two having won the last 10 World RX events he’d contested – albeit with that streak punctuated by his season away from the series last year – then faced a mammoth battle with fellow champion Ekström on Sunday.
After disposing of Robin Larsson at the start, Kristoffersson held the lead for much of the main event, but Ekström, who had jokered on the opening lap, was reeling him in.
The Audi driver’s pace led to Kristoffersson making a bold call on the final lap.
The stewards were operating a ‘three strikes’ system on penalties for hitting the marker bollards used to police track limits, with a reset between qualifying and the semi-finals so everyone begins the semis with a clean slate.
Kristoffersson had one strike for hitting a marker in his semi, so knew he one warning left before facing a penalty.
Determined to maximize his pace onto the joker section in his final battle with Ekstrom, he intentionally clipped the bollard on the way in.
But while pushing hard, he actually hit two bollards – clipping the one of the exit too and resulting in a five-second post race penalty.
“I got a gap from Mattias and I heard he was really close,” said Kristoffersson.
“I got on the radio that I really had to push, and then I got a lap that I increased the gap a little bit.
“Then I thought before the joker ‘I have to do everything in the joker’, and I actually cut both the pillars – I was meant to do one but it turned out to be two so I got a five-second penalty, but that was a fight to enjoy.”
While Kristoffersson’s winning run in the series – and at Höljes where he had won on three consecutive appearances – is over, his podium streak continues, stretching back to his last win-less event in Belgium in 2018.
Since giving the Volkswagen Motorsport-built Polo its debut at the start of the 2017 campaign, Kristoffersson has only failed to win seven times from 26 events to date, while he has been on the podium on a staggering 23 occasions during that time, including back-to-back rostrum appearances at Höljes.