Latvia WRX: Kristoffersson beats Gronholm to score first win of 2021
Triple World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson claimed his first victory of the 2021 campaign on the second day of a double-header weekend in Latvia.
Having come to blows with Finn Niclas Gronholm at the first corner of the final in round four of the series 24 hours earlier and spun out of contention, the Swede had to give second-best to Gronholm in the overall qualifying order.
Both drivers won their semi-finals to lock out the front row of the final, but this time around Kristoffersson, starting on the outside, not only survived turn one but also made the better launch and ran around the outside of the Finn, sideways in his EKS JC Audi to claim the race lead.
Chased by Gronholm, a returning Mattias Ekstrom and points’ leader Timmy Hansen throughout, Kristoffersson controlled the race from the front and took his compulsory extra-route joker lap on the final tour to finally overcome the bad luck that has plagued him in the first four rounds of the season to stand on the top step of the podium for the first time this year, his 25th career win.
Behind, Gronholm shadowed Kristofferson throughout, just a handful of tenths behind the leader but didn’t quite have the pace to challenge for the victory.
Positions did change behind however with Ekstrom the first of the top four to take his joker lap. Hansen responded on the final tour behind leader Kristoffersson, having moved up to second on the road and beat fellow former champion Ekstrom to the final step on the podium, as Gronholm moved ahead to be second.
Ekstrom had been fastest in Q1 but suffered a broken propshaft in Q3. Regardless he started on the front row of the semi-finals and made the finial, but just missed out on a return podium on his debut with the Munnich Motorsport squad.
A few seconds further back from Ekstrom in the final, Kevin Hansen and Krisztian Szabo battled for fifth, Hansen coming out on top, while Szabo only made it into the last race of the weekend when Timo Scheider’s Munnich Motorsport Seat Ibiza’s propshaft failed during his pre-launch on the way to the grid, Szabo graduating into the final line-up as the first reserve.
Home hero Janis Baumanis claimed victory in the European Rallycross Championship category, the first win for the ES Motorsport team.
|1||1||Johan Kristoffersson||Audi S1|
|2||68||Niclas Grönholm||Hyundai i20||0.920|
|3||21||Timmy Hansen||Peugeot 208||2.149|
|4||5||Mattias Ekström||Seat Ibiza||2.274|
|5||9||Kevin Hansen||Peugeot 208||5.525|
|6||23||Krisztián Szabó||Hyundai i20||8.161|
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