A hot, fast, and dramatic two days of racing at the Killarney International Raceway on the outskirts of Cape Town marked three big things.
First up it was the FIA World Rallycross Championship’s inaugural weekender in South Africa – pulling in a record crowd of 27,000 fans. Secondly Johan Kristoffersson closed out his championship winning season in perfect style by nailing his seventh victory of the year. And thirdly, it marked the final competition for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden and Hoonigan Racing Division ahead of Gymkhana GRiD 2017 on the 18th and 19th of November in Johannesburg.
For 2017 FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson in particular, things can hardly get better right now. Standing on the top step of the podium marks an astonishing 11 podiums out of 12 races this year for the 28 year old Swede; beating his nearest championship rival, and outgoing 2016 World RX Champion Mattias Ekström by 60 points.
Putting his VW GTI Supercar to full effect in his trademark precision style, Johan again dominated proceedings on track, emerging as top qualifier in the intermediate standings after the four qualifying races, and then going on to take blistering wins in semi final one and the event’s main final.
While PSRX Volkswagen team boss and driver Petter Solberg narrowly missed out on making it a dream 1-2 championship finish this season, he can console himself that fourth position in South Africa further adds another solid haul of points to confirm his team’s undisputed top position in the Teams’ Championship.
Hoonigan Racing Division’s Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud suffered a galling weekend, finishing 8th and 7th overall. Although both drivers qualified well, placing 6th and 5th respectively at the intermediate standings, success in the finals proved illusive in the pair’s final event together in the FIA World Rallycross Championship.
Head Hoonigan in Charge Ken Block in particular put in a superb last performance at the South African circuit – leading the overnight standings as top qualifier at the end of day one. Rolling into day two, Block kept his foot on the gas retaining a top-six position in the qualifying standings after another two races.
Unfortunately heavy damage sustained during the battle for the lead of Block’s semi final race meant his Ford Focus RSRX had shed a significant amount of its front body work, and at the subsequent post-race weigh in, the car was judged to be underweight by race officials. Cruelly this also meant that despite Ken’s awesome performance on track, he was disqualified from the race and eliminated from progressing to the weekend’s main final.
If all that action wasn’t enough, the crowds were kept on the edge of their seats in between the racing with 23-time World Record holder Terry Grant and South African hero drifter Jason Webb laying down incredible tyre-slaying demos. Full results from the 2017 World RX of South Africa are available, here.
If you missed the action at Killarney, then don’t worry. Johan, Petter, Ken, Andreas, Terry, and Jason will all be heading to Gymkhana GRiD in Johannesburg next weekend [18th & 19th November].
Johan Kristoffersson – PSRX Volkswagen World RX Team Sweden – 1st:
“This season has been just incredible. I can’t believe what we have achieved. Again, I have to thank Petter and all of the team – together we have been so strong for all of this year. I thought this was possible when we talked before the season started, but to deliver like this is amazing. This is a fantastic way to end the season, this seventh win means I have more than 50 per cent of the victories – that’s not a bad year. Now we have a few days to rest and then go to Johannesburg for Gymkhana GRiD, which is going to be a first for me! I’m really looking forward to the challenge and going to go flat out.”
Petter Solberg – PSRX Volkswagen World RX Team Sweden – 4th:
“Of course it’s a little bit disappointing not to take the silver, but just look at where we are with this team that didn’t even exist this time last year! I am so proud of what we have done. Johan has broken so many records this year and the whole team - everybody in PSRX Volkswagen Sweden - has worked and played so hard – this weekend and this year is because of them and I can’t thank them all enough. Mattias Ekström is a tough racer and we know it’s going to be a big battle and it was. The end of the semi-final when we were so close together was just incredible and the same in the final. I tried everything, but it wasn’t possible to come past him. But it’s OK. We have enough gold for one year!”
Ken Block – Hoonigan Racing Division – 8th
“So my race day went awesome yesterday - and I was on my way to starting the final in fourth place after some really tough qualifying and semi battles. Unfortunately - I lost a lot of bodywork whilst finishing second in my semi final race. So when my car hit the scales after the semi, it came in underweight - and therefore, I got disqualified because my race car was “too light” (lolwut!). Very lame way to end my FIA World Rallycross season - especially since I was in a podium-contending position! Not leaving Africa just yet though: really looking forward to running at Gymkhana Grid next week in Johannesburg.”
Andreas Bakkerud – Hoonigan Racing Division – 7th
“I had a moment in the car driving back to the paddock, when I was thinking about what had been the high and low points have been over the past two incredible years. For sure last year in Hell, Norway, where we had our first win, and I dominated the whole weekend with the record cleans sweep was our absolute biggest achievement. The biggest disappointment then I guess is that we haven’t really figured out how to consistently keep our pace fast. This weekend was a perfect example of that – how we can go from being P1 and P2 in practice, then top during the first qualifying, and then dropping further and further back on day two. If we could have figured out how to maintain our pace during the weekend, we would have been able to fight for titles this season. Gymkhana GRiD is coming up next weekend now, and I’m looking forward to making some tyre smoke, going sideways and having a lot of fun.”