He didn’t have to win to become World Champion, but he did anyway. Johan Kristoffersson is the all conquering FIA World Rallycross Champion. Again!
It has been a truly record breaking 18 months for the 29 year old Swede. When he was signed to the PSRX Volkswagen Team in March 2017, alongside three time FIA World Champion Petter Solberg, nobody could have ever predicted that he would go on to dominate the sport in such unprecedented style.
Since stepping into his 600bhp Volkswagen Polo Supercar at the beginning of 2017, Johan has won 16 of the 22 rounds he has contested, along with a further three second and third placed podium spots. For all you stat-heads out there; this means that when Johan shows up to race, based on the results from the last two years at least, there’s an 86% chance of him standing on the podium by the end of the weekend.
Arriving in Texas for World RX’s inaugural visit Stateside, all eyes were on the seemingly invincible Swedish racer to wrap up the title – a mere two races before the end of the season. While the track was new, the conditions unknown, and the final race action-packed; few doubted Johan’s ability to lock the result in.
AS THE CHEQUERED FLAG DROPPED, JOHAN HEADED A DOUBLE PSRX PODIUM, 0.6 SECONDS IN FRONT OF PETTER. HERE’S WHAT HE HAD TO SAY ABOUT BECOMING A DOUBLE [CONSECUTIVE] WORLD DRIVERS’ CHAMPION.
Congratulations! You’ve done it; how do you feel?
:“Incredible, it’s going to take a while to sink in for sure. Somehow with the victory here in the US it feels more complete too. Before the victory, and before the final, it felt very much like there was still business to do – because we still had points to score. Last year in Riga, I was able to take the championship with a win. Here in the US this year I was technically champion after finishing the semi-final.
After Q1 where I got stuck in traffic and was 13th out of 15 cars – it wasn’t really where I wanted to be this weekend. The car felt really strong from Q2 onwards though, so we improved for Q3 and then I won Q4. We had a really good tyre strategy for the semi final which was crucial to getting P2 next to Petter. There isn’t much more I can say about the final, I just pushed hard; the track conditions were changing all the time, and I’m happy and relived to take the championship with a win on the podium, for my first visit to the USA.”
Tough break for Petter – he went wide and you got past him in the final…
“Yes, I really do feel bad for Petter today. It’s so slippy when you get off line, and I actually thought Petter had enough of a gap to pull out in-front of me, even though he had gone wide, but when he didn’t accelerate out of the corner like I thought he would, I went for the gap, and that was it. I know how hard he is fighting, and how much getting the win here would mean to him. At the same time I think this is why Petter hired me to race with him. I’m very competitive and I’m always there at every smallest chance I get. Everyone in our team is there to win and that’s why I am here too. You can’t excuse yourself to grab a victory.”
“THE NEXT AIM WILL BE TO HAVE A GOOD RESULT IN BUXTEHUDE. AFTER ALL WE STILL WANT TO SCORE POINTS FOR THE TEAM’S CHAMPIONSHIP – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.”
What are your thoughts on breaking records in World RX for wins?
“It was never my main objective to go out and break so many records in the championship, but it is amazing for sure. I try not to think about it so much – I just always keep looking ahead to think about what I can achieve next! I think it will hit me when I start relaxing in the winter.”
Will you be targeting more wins now you are champion or?
“The next aim will be to have a good result in Buxtehude. After all we still want to score points for the Team’s championship – this is very important. I’ve never had a good result there for some reason; so I want to change that!”
“WINNING LAST YEAR WAS A MASSIVE THING, BUT TO DEFEND THE TITLE IN THE WAY THAT I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO IS SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL. I HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE TO THANK FOR THIS, INCLUDING THE WHOLE PSRX VOLKSWAGEN SWEDEN TEAM.”
You won the TCR Scandinavia title last weekend, now you’ve wrapped up World RX; what’s next?
“You know I am so proud of what I’ve achieved this season. Winning last year was a massive thing, but to defend the title in the way that I have been able to is something very special. I have a lot of people to thank for this, including the whole PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team. Honestly, this is such a special bunch of people, both from the PSRX and the Volkswagen side. We work so well together, everything works. And, of course, I have to thank my team-mate Petter. This hasn’t been the easiest year for him, but this weekend he showed he is right at the top of his driving again and it’s so good to have him back to his best. I’ll be honest, I think Petter deserved the win this time. I won the 2018 TCR Scandinavia title last week and now this. Incredible. Maybe it’s time for a small celebration, maybe one or two drinks tonight.”
Awesome to hear that you will keep pushing – congratulations again!
“Haha of course! Thank you very much – and also a big thanks to all of the team from me too!”