80,000 fans in the blazing sun and French fighter jets screaming overhead – that was the scene setter for the latest epic weekend of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. What’s more, defending world champion Johan Kristoffersson stunned the crowds, and his rivals, once again by taking his seventh win from eight races this season.
The record breaking result puts the defending world champion a full 59 points clear of second placed Andreas Bakkerud – that’s a single point short of taking a maximum score at two full World RX weekends. If all that wasn’t enough, Johan walked away from Lohéac with the outright lap record too.
“I love this place. The fans are so special here. We know they are all cheering like crazy for Sébastien [Loeb] and they want him to win, but the respect and the good feeling they give to me is so nice,” explained Johan. “I want to thank them. And I want to thank the team. This was an incredible result, one we all worked so hard for. But, I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure it was coming when we went to the last lap in the final – I didn’t know what was going to happen.
“My semi-final was OK, but the launch off the line wasn’t so super-good. I had saved my tyres for the final, but then I was a little bit worried because if you are in the middle of the pack then you can’t always use that advantage with the tyre. I took the joker early and came out just ahead of Petter – that was really a close one!
“And then me and Petter we just waited. Will they go this time? I didn’t know, I just didn’t know who was going when. I was behind Timmy [Hansen] and thinking: “Will he go? Is he going?” And, you know, you are trying to be ready for him to turn sharp to the right to take the joker. A couple of times he made the car in the position that he’s going to turn, but then didn’t. You can’t really commit to the corner completely in case he turns to joker and you will hit him. So many laps, I was losing time like this.
“But then they went. My spotter – my father Tommy Kristoffersson - was shouting at me: “Go, go, go!” I went like crazy, pushed so hard and we did it. Incredible. Like I said, I want to thank the team and Petter, at times I didn’t think this one was possible and that makes this result more special. For the seven wins in a season and equaling the record, sure that’s nice – but the job isn’t finished yet.”
Team mate and PSRX Volkswagen Sweden boss Petter Solberg concurs, although he’d have been happier with being on the top step himself. “I am very happy for this result. You know me, I am wanting to win all of the time and I really wanted to win here, but this was a tough race weekend,” said Solberg.
“The other cars had a lot of pace and it wasn’t easy for us out there. Some of the qualifying was not so nice, a bit of traffic coming and it was a bit frustrating at times, but you have to stay calm, stick with the plan and come to the semi-finals and the final. When the chance came, we were ready. I was absolutely on the limit in those last four corners when the top three went to the joker. To make two cars to the podium is a fantastic result for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden and the Polo R Supercar.”
If all that wasn’t enough, Luke Woodham debuted Europe’s first full electric drift car, and Liam Doran made an awesome return to World RX racing, jumping into the GCK prepared Renault Mégane and scorching to an impressive 8th position by the end of the weekend.
Hit play below to check out the final of the 2018 World RX of France.