Kristoffersson wins in Riga with KYB EKS JC to climb World RX standings
Finally Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson and the KYB EKS JC team have claimed a long-awaited victory in the 2021 FIA World Rallycross Championship.
The fourth and fifth rounds of the series took place in Riga, Latvia, where KYB EKS JC stood on the top step of the podium in the second of the two races and Kristoffersson climbed up the Drivers’ Championship standings to close on the lead.
Second in the Intermediate Classification in round five on Sunday, three-time World RX Champion Kristoffersson won his semi-final then made the best start in the final, moving round the outside of turn one to take the lead and claim his first win for the team. The weekend’s first round was also a success in the Intermediate Classification and the semi-finals, but at the start of the final Kristoffersson’s victory hopes, yet again this year, came to an abrupt end as contact pushed the Audi S1 into a spin off track.
The incident cost time and damaged the car, and he finished fifth. Regardless, Kristoffersson picked up important championship points, helping to lift him to third overall in the Drivers’ standings.
Despite showing some fast pace, Belgian driver Enzo Ide struggled to find the correct rhythm with his car in Riga. Round four ended in the semi-finals with retirement at the first corner, while Sunday’s event also ended in the semi-finals although Ide claimed fourth by a margin of 0.015 seconds.
Joel Christoffersson, KYB EKS JC Team Principal:
"Finally! Until today, we had almost wondered if someone had put a black cat in our path, we have felt so unlucky. We have worked so hard this year and been close to winning so many times so it feels really good to finally be able to take a victory with Johan. There was a lot of pressure coming here after France, where we had a problem while leading the semi-finals, and with the knowledge that we needed to win here to keep our championship hopes alive. Things went perfectly on Saturday but contact in the final ended our chances of winning. That of course lowered the mood in the team, but we recharged overnight and came back strong on Sunday with new energy and a repaired car. This win feels so good for me, Johan and the whole KYB EKS JC team.
For Enzo, it has been a challenging weekend here in Riga. It’s a difficult track, not least for those who come here for the first time, but from my point of view he has done a good job and was able to give several of the more experienced drivers a fight on track. We didn’t find the very last speed that he needed, but we will do more testing and continue to work for the future. I think he should be happy with his drive to fourth in the semi-finals today.”
Johan Kristoffersson (SWE):
"It’s victory at last. It felt really nice to be able to take the win here in Riga and at the same time be able to wave to all the fans in the grandstands. I'm so happy, especially for the team. They have worked so hard ever since the very first day we started testing before the season. Saturday night was very long for them, so it’s a great relief for me to deliver this result for them.
But, it was also a tough weekend I must say. We had the speed again, but yesterday we couldn’t climb to the top of the podium even though the pace was there. Even today we had good pace, and a pretty aggressive tyre strategy to save the tyres for the semi-final and final. I had a good semi and in the final I made the best start of the whole weekend, so I had saved that until it mattered most. From there on it was difficult to know how we would do tactically against Niclas [Grönholm], but in the end we made the right decision.”
Enzo Ide (BEL):
"It was a tough weekend for me. The track in Riga was completely new to me and when I saw it for the first time it did not look so difficult. But I was wrong. It was a big challenge for me to find the right feeling and I had some problems with the car on Saturday that meant I had to adjust the driving accordingly. But as I always say, this is a learning year for me and I have learned a lot at this circuit. By making mistakes and doing more driving I become more comfortable on track and in line with that the better results can also come.
I want to thank the team for their hard work this weekend. I had some close battles so my mechanics were busy, and the engineers did a good job of constantly trying to get the car where I wanted it. And of course, thanks to my team mate Johan for all the tips and advice. The next round will be at home for me in Spa, where I also did my very first rallycross event. It will be a special feeling to compete in front of my family, friends and sponsors again.”