Johan Kristoffersson wasn't exactly the favorite to win the Hell round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, specially after bruising his right foot, but not only he overcame this but also showed that the Volkswagen Polo GTI RX is the best car of the field during the final stages, keeping him as the championship leader.
Qualifying was a nail-biting fight from Q1 to Q4, and while Mattias Ekström dominated until Q3, Andreas Bakkerud was the top qualifier with Ekström being pipped to second while Petter Solberg was third, and injuries combined with a Q4 race puncture hindered Johan Kristoffersson's efforts to fourth place. The story of the qualifying was Timmy Hansen's huge shunt in Q3 after contact with Solberg, which demanded a monumentally quick job from the guys of Team Peugeot-Hansen to rebuild the car ahead of Q4, and with a good run the older Hansen was able to qualify for the semifinals in 12th.
The semifinal 1 started with most of the field going to the Joker at the go as Andreas Bakkerud led the group, with Sébastien Loeb leading Timur Timerzyanov in the standard route.
After being in the worst end of the Lap 1 Joker, Solberg started a charge from last place and was eager to pass Timerzyanov, but the Russian was in impressive form to defend the third position until the line while Bakkerud and Loeb got first and second in dominant fashion, and in the end we had the double World Champion out of the final.
On semifinal 2 to even packs went separate ways with an EKS 1-2 with Ekström and Reinis Nitiss holding Ken Block in third while Kristoffersson was watching them closely.
Once everybody made their Joker Laps, Kristoffersson was in the lead with Ekström right behind and thanks to Nitiss' inteference, Timmy Hansen avoided further battles to defend his third position from Ken Block and then went to the final as Kristoffersson and Ekström just ahead.
The final was a place of no one, and with three cars for each route again, Bakkerud took the lead with Loeb and Ekström behind. Unfortunately for Bakkerud, his Joker lap wasn't good enough to hold Kristoffersson at bay, so he would have to fight for the overtake.
The Loeb-Ekström battle and Kristoffersson's pace were placing everything for the PSRX Volkswagen driver, and so it was in the last lap when both guys went to the Joker and Kristoffersson was with open road to power his way to victory while Bakkerud came in second, unable to pose a threat. Loeb still got the better end of the last lap mess after his Joker and completed the podium leaving Ekström in fourth.
Kristoffersson streched the lead a little after the Hell event, being now with 151 points against 143 of Ekström and 134 of Solberg. PSRX Volkswagen is still the dominant team with 285 points against 204 from Team Peugeot-Hansen.
In interview to Neil Cole, Kristoffersson said how special was this victory: “I was a little bit emotional to be able to win the semifinal and final because I felt the right foot was really suffering after I bruised it on the Friday, and when it was so tight between the semifinal and final it was not the best feeling but it was really to fly the Swedish high in Norway”
The action will be back on July 2nd, when Kristoffersson, Ekström and the Hansens race at home in Höljes, Sweden.
PHOTO: Johan Kristoffersson