Another double final for Volkswagen RX Sweden at home event


Racing at the team’s home round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Holjes in Sweden (July 3), Volkswagen RX Sweden drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Anton Marklund achieved their second double final finish of the season in the Volkswagen Polo RX Supercars, and only just missed out on a double podium.

While Marklund set the fastest lap of the World RX field in Saturday’s wet conditions at the Magic Weekend, Kristoffersson finished top of the order after Q2 and remained first at the Intermediate Classification after Q4 to secure 16 championships points and a front row start for the first semi-final, from where he made it onto the second row for the final. A great start in the final was followed by a first lap joker for Kristoffersson, who looked certain to finish on the podium at the team’s home event, only to suffer a puncture on the front and the rear with two laps remaining. The Swede finished fifth.

“We came here with some new updates and we proved all through the event that we have been quick in wet, dry and tricky conditions. I have to say that we really had the pace this weekend again, like we did in the first four events of the season,” said Kristoffersson. “We’ve found a lot of speed since Hell, which is great. It’s so really boring that we got the puncture in the final. I was in a very good position to get a podium. We lost a bit on lap one but we caught it back and on lap four I was right on Andreas Bakkerud’s bumper, but I landed from the jump at turn two and got a puncture. That’s life. We have to look forward, we’ve had great pace this weekend.”

Marklund battled through a series of traffic-filled qualification races to make it into the semi-finals and finished third in semi-final two with a strong drive to join Kristoffersson in the final. Marklund pressured nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb on the opening lap of the final and passed the Frenchman at the start of lap two, but was slowed by a technical issue towards the end of the race and finished fourth. “The pace has been really good, we really showed that we have found a lot of speed, especially from testing. I had the fastest lap time for the whole of Saturday – that really showed what we could do,” he said. “Holjes is a tough track, it’s easy to damage the car and to get in trouble, so I played it safe to get to the semis. You know at Holjes if you are on the back row of the semis that you have to be quite aggressive, I was into turn one and I made it into the final. I knew I had to do that again in the final, I was P3 after turn two and I was faster than Loeb on the first lap but was able to pass him. When I jokered I came out right in front of Mattias Ekstrom, but then I started to have some troubles with the car. It will be fixed easily I’m sure and we will be ready for Canada, where I have always been in the final.”

Volkswagen RX Sweden Team Principal Michael Schneider is pleased with the progress made by the team in recent weeks. “We have worked a lot between Norway and here. We are back in the game,” he said. “Johan proved by winning the Intermediate Classification that we can be on the top and Anton managed to make it into the final from the third row in the semis. It’s just disappointing that we lost a potential double podium today.”

The seventh round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place at Trois-Rivieres, Canada (August 6 – 7). Volkswagen RX Sweden CEO Jan Marklund believes the pace of the Volkswagen Polo RX Supercar will stand the squad in good stead going into the second half of the year. “The pace has been really good both in wet and dry conditions here, compared to the last two events,” said Marklund. “We’re looking forward going to Canada. It was really disappointing that we had the problems in the final, we could have had at least one podium for sure but we will fight hard again in Canada.”

Holjes, Sweden Results
1) Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Focus)
2) Sebastien Loeb (Peugeot 208)
3) Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208)
4) Anton Marklund (Volkswagen Polo RX)
5) Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Polo RX)
6) Mattias Ekstrom (Audi S1)

FIA World Rallycross Championship Drivers’ Standings
1) Mattias Ekstrom, Sweden, Audi, 142
2) Petter Solberg, Norway, Citroën, 137
3) Andreas Bakkerud, Norway, Ford, 110
4) Sebastien Loeb, France, Peugeot, 106
5) Johan Kristoffersson, Sweden, Volkswagen, 106
6) Timmy Hansen, Sweden, Peugeot, 86

13) Anton Marklund, Sweden, Volkswagen 46

FIA World Rallycross Championship Teams’ Standings
1) EKS (Audi), 224
2) Team Peugeot-Hansen, 192
3) Volkswagen RX Sweden, 152
4) Hoonigan Racing Division (Ford), 133
5) World RX Team Austria (Ford), 109
6) OlsbergsMSE (Ford), 65

FIA World Rallycross Championship 2016 Calendar
1 Portugal – Montalegre – 16/17 April
2 Germany – Hockenheim – 6/8 May
3 Belgium – Mettet – 14/15 May
4 UK – Lydden Hill – 28/29 May
5 Norway – Hell – 11/12 June
6 Sweden – Holjes – 2/3 July
7 Canada – Trois-Rivieres – 6/7 August
8 France – Loheac – 3/4 September
9 Spain – Barcelona – 17/18 September
10 Latvia – Riga – 1/2 October
11 Germany – Estering – 15/16 October
12 Argentina – Rosario – 26/27 November