Kristoffersson’s ninth win secures his second World RX Title at COTA

by Phil Kinch

Johan Kristoffersson has had to fight back on several weekends during the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship and each time he has taken the Supercar Final victory against the odds.

However the 2018 World RX of USA almost had a different ending…

Petter Solberg finished as Top Qualifier after the four sessions were complete and lined up in Pole position for the Supercar Final after winning Semi-Final Two. Mattias Ekstrom lined up alongside him, with the EKS Audi Sport driver having won Semi-Final Two. Kristoffersson lined up on row two with Sebastien Loeb whilst Andreas Bakkerud and Timmy Hansen in the second Team Peugeot Total entry completed the grid.

Solberg took an early lead in the Supercar Final, but a mistake would cost him the win. Credit: Bourne Images / Graham Washbourne

What became clear during the weekend was that the short and tight COTA RX track left little room for overtaking chances, although some drivers managed to successfully pass others in Qualifying.

This meant that an early joker was often key to making up positions and as the drivers raced into turn one, Ekstrom, Kristoffersson, Loeb and Hansen all took advantage of this move whilst Solberg led Bakkerud into turn three.

Bakkerud pushed hard for the win, but his efforts were rewarded with a third place finish. Credit: Bourne Images / Graham Washbourne

However there was contact between Ekstrom and Kristoffersson with the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden driver taking third place by turn three. This move would be crucial in this fast paced Supercar Final.

To counter the early joker strategy in play, Solberg dived for the joker on lap two and just held of his team-mate as Bakkerud took the lead in the second EKS Audi Sport S1 Quattro. With Solberg closing the 1.8 second gap required for Bakkerud to stay ahead, the Norwegian succumbed a lap later to take his joker and managed to hold off Ekstrom to take third.

Loeb was a front runner for the win in COTA but the Team Peugeot Total driver had to settle for fourth place in the end. Credit: Bourne Images / Graham Washbourne

Solberg was looking good for the win until heartbreak intervened for the Norwegian driver on lap five. Looking good for his first win since the 2017 World RX of Great Britain, the Double World RX Champion slid wide at turn three and that was all Kristoffersson needed to take the lead and seal his ninth win of the season a lap later.

Solberg held off Bakkerud for second whilst Loeb headed home Ekstrom. Hansen crossed the line fourth but a penalty awarded afterwards saw the Swedish driver fall to sixth place.

After finishing second in Semi-Final One, Kristoffersson was confirmed as Champion at COTA. Credit: Bourne Images / Brenda Washbourne

With Kristoffersson crowned as Champion, the fight for second place falls to four men with Ekstrom, Solberg, Bakkerud and Loeb are all covered by seven points in the Drivers Championship with two rounds left to go.

The 2018 World RX of Germany is up next in the middle of this month and every point will count as the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship heads to the last two rounds of the year.

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