World Rallycross returnee Johan Kristoffersson netted his second series victory in a week, winning the third round at Kouvola in Finland ahead of local star Juha Rytkonen.
Kristoffersson dominated proceedings on his first ever visit to the Finnish venue, the double-header introduced into the schedule at short notice to embellish the number of rounds in the coronavirus-hit World RX schedule.
Fastest through qualifying, Kristoffersson won both the first semi-final and the final from the front with relative ease in the Kristoffersson Motorsport-run, works-built Volkswagen Polo and extended his margin to 16 points at the head of the drivers’ standings, helped in part by closest points challenger Mattias Ekstrom retiring from the semi-finals.
Former champion Ekstrom had started from pole position in the second semi-final, but dropped to second at the opening corner behind Rytkonen, then was slowed with a problem at the second turn of the second tour.
Ekstrom’s KYB Team JC team-mate Robin Larsson had also dropped back in the opening corners and, despite fighting hard to make up for lost ground, suffered a puncture in the closing stages while Rytkonen won the race to join Kristoffersson on the front row for the main event.
While Kristoffersson made the best launch from pole in the final, Timmy Hansen closed the door on Niclas Gronholm at the first corner, the latter taking his joker at the first opportunity towards the end of the undulating Kouvola lap.
Double DTM champion Timo Scheider made his third final in a row and pressured Kevin Hansen in the early stages, but the other Hansen – reigning champion Timmy – who ran third, then climbed to second when Rytkonen took his joker on lap three.
Guided by World RX event winner Toomas Heikkinen on the radio, the decision to send reigning Finnish Rallycross champion Rytkonen into the extra-route joker on the third tour was the correct call, as he covered off GRX regular and team-mate Gronholm, who had just passed Kevin Hansen.
The places remained the same until the final tour when Timmy Hansen just stayed ahead of Gronholm after taking his joker, covering the inside into the final corner to secure his first podium of the campaign.
Behind Gronholm, Scheider climbed ahead of Kevin Hansen to take fifth.
The biggest adulation was reserved for Rytkonen, however, finishing second between the series’ two most recent champions on his debut, on the back of just a single day’s testing in the GRX Hyundai i20.