August 6th 2023, Mettet – The Championship arrived at Mettet tighter than ever, and the weekend race in Belgium delivered great action. After five years since the last Rallycross race in this track, the Jules Tacheny circuit saw incredible fights in all sessions and a win in RX2e for the 5-time Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson.
That’s because for the race weekend in Mettet, the RX2e regular drivers were accompanied by four drivers from WRX: Johan Kristoffersson, Ole Christian Veiby from KMS and Timmy and Kevin Hansen, from Hansen Motorsport.
In the Qualifying, Kevin Hansen set the fastest time, securing himself the pole position for the first Heat, followed by Marko Muru and Ole Christian Veiby. The first Heat witnessed three thrilling races. The first one saw Pablo Suárez have a great launch and set a high pace during the whole race keeping the first position until the end, ahead of Filip Thorén. In the second race, Nils Andersson did a perfect launch, placing himself in second position just behind Timmy Hansen, who managed to keep the first place until the end. An incident between Ole Henry Steinsholt and Nils Andersson, resulted in a puncture for the Swede driver and a 10 second penalty for the Norwegian. In the last race of the first Heat, Kevin Hansen opened a gap just from the start and with great pace managed to stay first during the whole race. Behind, Johan Kristofferson overtook Ole Christian Veiby on track to finish second while Marko Muru arrived in fourth.
The second Heat saw a great strategy from Johann Kristoffersson who managed to gain the first position after Kevin Hansen did the joker lap. Behind, Timmy Hansen and Ole Christian Veiby got second and third respectively. Second race of second Heat witnessed a win for Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky after a great start ahead of Marko Muru, Pablo Suárez and Filip Thorén. In the last race of the day, Isak Sjökvist started first, while Ole Henry Steinsholt and Nils Andersson were battling behind. However, once Sjökvist did the joker lap, the Norwegian driver took advantage and positioned himself in the first place, ahead of Nils and fellow Swede Sjökvist. Molly Taylor had an incident and couldn’t finish the race.
And the day of the final races arrived. But before the Final showdown, it was time for the last two Heats. Heat 3 saw Nils Andersson win right from the start, as he held onto first position right after the first corner. Behind, Isak Sjökvist managed to finish second ahead of Filip Thorén. Molly Taylor arrived in fourth position. In the second race, Kevin Hansen recovered from a bad start and placed himself at the top after battling a bit with Ole Henry Steinsholt. The last race of Heat 3 was filled with drama, as it had to be red flagged after just the first corner, when Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky went a bit wide and got pushed a bit ending in the barriers. In the restart, Timmy Hansen and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky got a good start, and were in front, but Johan Kristoffersson was the quickest, and set a fast pace to close the gap. Hansen did the joker lap trying to cover from KMS driver, but in the end, Kristoffersson overtook Hansen on track and finished in first position. Mikaela came in third ahead of Ole Christian Veiby.
Last Heat of the day witnessed intense battles between the drivers. In the first one, Molly Taylor did a perfect launch and had to defend against Isak Sjökvist first, and Marko Muru at the end. The Estonian driver, though, managed to pass Taylor, and won the race ahead Isak Sjökvist and Filip Thorèn. Molly Taylor finished in fourth after she did the joker lap. In the second race, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky was starting on pole and gave no chance to fellow competitors. She won ahead of Ole Henry Steinsholt, Ole Christian Veiby and Pablo Suárez. For the last race of the Heat 4, Johann Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen got too close in the first corner, but the KMS driver managed to stay on front until the end. Behind, both Hansen brothers were trying to close the gap and, in the end, when Timmy Hansen did the joker lap, lost the second position to his brother by just one tenth.
After the Heats, the top 3 RX2e regular drivers got Championship points, so Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, Nils Andersson and Marko Muru got awarded 3, 2 and 1 point respectively. Also, it was time to define the grids for Semi Finals: Johan Kristoffersson and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky shared the front row in the first semi-final, followed by Ole Christian Veiby and Marko Muru in the second row, and Pablo Suárez and Isak Sjökvist in the third. For Semi-Final 2, Kevin and Timmy Hansen were placed in the first row; Nils Andersson and Ole Henry Steinsholt in the second and Filip Thorèn and Molly Taylor in the third row.
Semi-finals were filled with drama. The first Semi-final was red flagged due to a crash with the tyre barrier where Ole Christian Veiby’s car was upside down. The driver was ok, but they couldn’t get the car in the time for the restart. Pablo Suárez also damaged his car during this first race and couldn’t take place in the restart. So in the end, just four cars were competing in the first Semi-Final, that saw a win for Johan Kristoffersson, Marko Muru in second and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky in third, all earning their spots in the final. In Semi-final 2, Timmy Hansen performed a brilliant launch and held the position until the end, with Nils Andersson arriving in second and Kevin Hansen in third. The #71 driver though, received a 5 second penalty for cutting the track, placing then behind Ole Henry Steinsholt, who earnt the last spot in the final.
And it was time for the Final. The front row of the grid was occupied by Johann Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen, while Nils Andersson and Marko Muru took their positions on the second row, followed by Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Ole Henry Steinsholt on the third row.
The start was close between Johan Kristoffersson, Ole Henry Steinsholt and Marko Muru, that ended with the Estonian driver going wide in the first corner and Kristoffersson leading ahead of Steinsholt. Behind, Timmy Hansen crashed, leaving Steinsholt back into second position and Marko Muru and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky battling for the last step on the podium, which finally went to the Swede. Marko Muru arrived in fourth and Nils Andersson in fifth. After the race, the first corner action between Ole Henry Steinsholt and Marko Muru was reviewed, resulting in a 12 second penalty for the Norwegian driver, which gave a second position to Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and a third place to Muru.
After the race, Johan Kristofferson was quite happy with how the weekend was: “It was not easy to adapt to the car, to jump into a challenge like this without any knowledge of the car, and to try to find the way very quickly puts some stress in the drivers, the mechanics and the engineers. But I think in terms of pace this weekend has been extremely good, maybe the best so far in this year, so I’m quite happy to walk away with the win”.