Timo Scheider kept true to his statement of beating Johan Kristoffersson in equal machinery by clinching the second race of the Cape Town-based World Rallycross event. Whilst Kristoffersson won the first event on Saturday, Scheider not only won his first-ever FIA WRX race, but also kept a 40th WRX win, and a 6th World Championship, away from Kristoffersson. This will have to wait for the Hong Kong finale in November.
Picture credit: Red Bull Content Pool
A different format
Since 2019, the FIA World Rallycross Championship has seen a shift in its format, seeing two championship races (one on Saturday, and another on Sunday) over the weekend, rather than just one championship round across the weekend.
Each day saw an initial Superpole, which ultimately decided the grid order for heat 1. On Saturday, Kevin Hansen managed to dethrone Kristoffersson from his unbeaten Superpole victories, taking pole position by a mere 0.082 seconds. Kristoffersson fought back on Sunday to take pole by more than half a second.
Another change is that the championship mainly moved over to electric vehicles, rather than the previous internal combustion units. Previous RX1 (ICE) cars developed between 430-450kW and a monstrous 920Nm, whilst the new RX1e cars develops a massive 507kW and 880Nm of torque.
Unfortunately, a devastating fire erupted in the Lydden Hill pits, earlier this year. This not only resulted in an ongoing FIA investigation, but also the loss of Sebastien Loeb’s and Guerlain Chicherit’s Lancia Deltas.
Whilst the championship was immediately put on hold, it was decided to put the whole field in equal machinery for the remainder of the season. The field competed in RX2e cars in Mettet, Belgium, whilst the championship then moved to the Southern tip of Africa, ahead of the season finale (double header) in Hong Kong on 11 and 12 November 2023.
With Loeb, Chicherit, and Bergstrom not attending the race weekend, the Mother City welcomed Kristoffersson and Ole Veiby (Kristoffersson Motorsport), Klara Andersson and Niclas Grönholm (Construction Equipment Dealer Team), the Hansen World RX Team brothers of Timmy and Kevin, and Timo Scheider and René Münnich (ALL-INKL.com Munnich Motorsport). All racing in equal Zeroid X1 machinery.
Kristoffersson seals another championship
Apart from the 2019 nail-biting Cape-Town, championship finale, in which Timmy Hansen won ahead of Andreas Bakkerud, Kristoffersson took the championship in 2017, 18, 20, 21, and 22.
With Kristoffersson heading into the weekend with a 27-point advantage, the Swede held a comfortable margin to his fellow racers.
Kristoffersson was not his usual self as Kevin Hansen took a historic superpole. The KMS driver fought back during the first heat to win the session, while Timo Scheider and Timmy Hansen respectively took heats 2 and 3.
KMS drivers won their respective semi-final races as the harsh nature of the Killarney gravel sections took its toll on drivers. This time, both Construction Equipment Dealer Team drivers suffered rear punctures. Grönholm, the 2019 Cape Town RX winner, was in for a weekend, strewn with bad luck.
The final saw Kristoffersson taking a commanding win as the Veiby and Timmy Hansen tangled, resulting in the ultimate retirement for the former. Kevin Hansen took over the second position, whilst Scheider ended the event in third.
Heading into the second championship race of the weekend, Kristoffersson held a 38-point lead, with the ambition to seal his sixth FIA World Rallycross Championship ahead of the Hong Kong round.
Heat 1 saw Kristoffersson winning once again as Grönholm, both Hansens, and Kristoffersson all collided in turn 1, taking out Timmy Hansen and Grönholm. Kevin led Kristoffersson, but was beaten in the Joker Lap.
Veiby and Kevin Hansen once again collided in Q2, allowing Kristoffersson to take a clear lead, whilst Veiby retired from the race. The second race saw an intense battle between Timmy Hansen and Scheider, with the latter winning the race, whilst also posting a faster time than Kristoffersson.
The last qualification of the day saw Kevin Hansen and Andersson battling for the first race win, while Veiby again struggled with car issues. The second race saw Scheider winning his third qualification of the weekend, setting the quickest time while Timmy Hansen held up Kristoffersson.
Scheider’s consistency meant that he took the pole position spot for the semi-finals, while Kristoffersson took second, enough to secure pole for the second semi-finals. Scheider won semi-final 1 ahead of Kevin Hansen and Niclas Grönholm as Veiby once again retired with a broken left-front wheel. Munnich jump-started the second semi-finals, while Kristoffersson cleared Timmy Hansen and Andersson to take the second front-row start for the final.
For Kristoffersson to win the championship in Cape Town, he had to win the race. However, Scheider got the perfect jump as Kristoffersson was slow off the line. This allowed Timmy Hansen to pass the World Champion (elect).
Kristoffesson jokered early, and slotted in behind Timmy Hansen again. Hansen jokered on the next lap to keep his second place. Scheider jokered on the penultimate lap to keep his first place. The two-time DTM champion crossed the line to win his first-ever WRX event!