Preview: 2018 World RX of South Africa – Can Kristoffersson Take Win Number 11?

by Phil Kinch

The final round of the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place at one of the more popular new additions for the series: Killarney International Circuit in Cape Town. The venue for the second edition of the World RX of South Africa.

Whilst all the excitement and hype about who will secure the Drivers Championship and who will secure the Teams Championship has died down, there is still the matter of who will finish second in both title races.

Add in the chance that Johan Kristoffersson could break further records by taking his eleventh win and we’re staring at what looks like a great finale to World RX in 2018.

With this in mind, there are several topics to look forward to and The Checkered Flag discusses these further in this preview.

CAN KRISTOFFERSSON BREAK MORE RECORDS IN SOUTH AFRICA?

Kristoffersson could set a new record this weekend in South Africa. Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

With the 2018 Drivers Championship sewn up in the USA and a further dominant performance in Germany, Johan Kristoffersson has been breaking records during the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship. The 2018 World RX of South Africa presents the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden driver with one more record to break: Most wins in a season.

With ten wins out of eleven starts this year, the Killarney International Circuit offers Kristoffersson the chance for win number eleven and the odds are good that he will secure that win and end the year as the most dominant driver in World RX history… so far.

Despite the trend of suffering from a difficult first day and then making up ground on Sunday to take the win, Kristoffersson has proven that once he is in front there is no stopping him. So the goal for the other drivers in South Africa is simple: Don’t let Kristoffersson get in front.

THE FIGHT FOR SECOND PLACE REACHES THE FINISH LINE

Ekstrom, Bakkerud, Solberg and Loeb will battle it out in Cape Town for second place in the Drivers Championship. Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

The fight for who will finish second to Johan Kristoffersson will see one driver crowned at Cape Town by the end of the Supercar Final on Sunday. Four of the highest profile suspects competing in World RX are involved in this epic battle.

Mattias Ekstrom lies in second place in the Drivers Championship with EKS Audi Sport team-mate Andreas Bakkerud only four points behind him after a recent upturn in form has seen the two Audi drivers take the fight to Peugeot. Petter Solberg is now in fourth place, a further three points behind Bakkerud.

After his resurgence in form in both the World RX of United States and the World RX of Germany, the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden driver is hoping to secure his second silver medal in two years behind team-mate Kristoffersson. However, one more driver can also spring a surprise.

Sebastien Loeb, the only other man to win a World RX so far in 2018, is in fourth place. The Team Peugeot Total driver has a big task on his hands as he lies sixteen points behind Solberg and twenty-three points behind Ekstrom. Loeb is well known to come out fighting and expect nothing less in South Africa.

THE GUEST STARS: WHO CAN SPRING A SURPRISE IN SOUTH AFRICA?

Timo Scheider returns to World RX duty for Munnich Motorsport in Cape Town. Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

With the finale to the FIA World Rallycross Championship once again being held in South Africa, this has tempted some impressive guest entries to Cape Town.

Two-time FIA European Rallycross Champion Anton Marklund will again join Guerlain Chicherit in the GC Kompetition team to drive a Renault Megane RS RX, however, Liam Doran will not be competing in the third entry due to the damage sustained in Germany.

The short turnaround time before the cars were shipped to South Africa meant that the former British Rallycross Grand Prix winner was not able to race

Liam Doran will be missing from the World RX of South Africa due to damage sustained in Germany. Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

In addition to the 15 permanent drivers, competing for six two-car teams and three individual entries, regular World RX and Americas Rallycross Championship driver Oliver Bennett will race his Mini Cooper in Cape Town with the target of qualifying for the semi-finals in World RX for the first time. South Africa will see the end of his first season on the World Rallycross stage.

Muennich Motorsport has entered a pair of its updated Seat Ibiza Supercars for Timo Scheider and Rene Muennich. Scheider, the 2017 World RX of Spain runner-up, will be starting his fourth World RX event of the season and is also competing for the team in the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR).

Team Owner Rene Muennich, who finished seventh in the 2018 FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars with a best finish of fourth in Latvia, will be aiming to end his season in style against the World RX regulars.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR WORLD RX AFTER SOUTH AFRICA?

The future of World RX maybe Electric, however, uncertainty surrounds the series for 2019. Credit: STARD Media

In January 2018, World RX announced that the 2020 season would be a fully Electric Championship and that it as in talks with up to nine Manufacturers about entering the series under these new regulations.

The current generation of flame-spitting, noise making 600 bhp Supercars would be moved to an International Series as the cars would see more action but not on the same World stage.

Without the required minimum of three Manufacturers committed to building and entering these new Electric RX Supercars, August 2018 saw the postponement of the Electric World RX Regs until 2021. But there was more fallout to come.

In September, just before the World RX of France Audi Sport announced that for 2019 its focus would be on the DTM and Formula E only, bringing an end to its work support to Mattias Ekstrom‘s EKSRX outfit.

After the 2018 World RX of Germany, Peugeot announced it was pulling out of World RX after the end of the season due to the uncertainty around the Electric World RX move and seven days later OMSE announced a sabbatical from the series as it looked to attract Manufacturer backing for the 2021 season.

Oli Bennett will be hoping to end his first World RX campaign in style this weekend. Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

So with confirmation from Petter Solberg that he will be back with Volkswagen in 2019 in some fashion, both GC Kompetition and GRX Taneco enthusiastic about wanting to return next year and ES Motorsport ramping up their testing programme with the Skoda Fabia Supercar for a 2019 entry, the driver market is wide open.

It’s going to be an interesting winter.

The draw for Q1 of the 2018 World RX of South Africa will take place on Friday with Q1 set to get underway on Saturday. By Sunday afternoon, we’ll know if Kristoffersson took win number eleven and who finished as runner-up to the 2018 World Champion.

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