Kristofferson drops electric power for seventh World RX title bid

After years of talk, the FIA World Rallycross championship finally adopted an electric formula at the beginning of 2022, but so far it’s not proved to be the new dawn the series expected.

In a bid to boost grid numbers, this year the series will once again allow combustion-engined cars, this time competing alongside the newer breed of electric vehicles. Naturally that would open the door for some of Europe’s smaller teams to make the jump up to the World championship from European RX or a number of national championships as they did in years past, but it’s also led to one of World RX’s biggest stars to ditch electric and go back to an engine.

Johan Kristoffersson and his Kristoffersson Motorsport team has been the team to beat so far in World RX’s ‘RX1e’ era, with the six-time champion winning all but two races in his Volkswagen Polo R5-based machine. Nevertheless, despite the sustained success, the Swedish team has developed an all-new car for the upcoming season – one that will be powered by a 600 horsepower, two liter combustion engine running on sustainable fuel.


Development of the team’s new Volkswagen Polo has been done in conjunction with Swedish powertrain engineering firm HORSE Powertrain and its subsidiary Aurobay, and while Kristoffersson is positive about the vehicle’s development, he admits it will be tough to go up against the already-developed electric cars.

“It will be tough to compete against the electric cars with our newly-built machines, but Aurobay is a dream partner for us, not only as a sponsor but also in technical terms,” said Kristoffersson. “It will be really fun to work with a long-term structure and be able to plan accordingly. This is an exciting project that has a lot of typical KMS spirit about it.”

Kristoffersson will once again be partnered by former World Rally driver Ole Christian Veiby, who says the switch back to combustion in direct contrast to their rivals will make the upcoming season “difficult to predict.”

“We are doing a turnaround and going in a different direction, which makes it difficult to predict how we will compare with the competition,” he said. “There are many complicated elements that have to be tested on a new car, but it will be very exciting to work with such a large and supportive partner.”

While electric car sales have grown globally over the last decade, and continue to do so, there is still large-scale resistance to them among consumers amid doubts, primarily over infrastructure and range. That is likely to prolong the life of the combustion engine, and Kristoffersson Motorsport team principal Tommy Kristoffersson says that by racing a combustion car against electric cars, they can continue to refine and develop the technology for wider use.

“In the Volkswagen Group where I was trained, the motto has always been that all motorsport should ultimately benefit the consumer,” he said. “There is nothing that drives development forward as effectively as competition, and with this project, we can take part in developing tomorrow’s engines.

“On the sporting side, ‘Battle of Technologies’ is a fantastic concept that is unique to rallycross. It is an extremely big challenge, but also an interesting one. We have a brand new car, a brand new partner and a very short timespan to match the electric cars.

“Although we have won in World RX for the last few years, we have to be humble and realize that it will take a lot for us to fight for the title again, but having always aspired to be an attractive team for someone who is looking for a development partner, now we are there, it feels incredibly satisfying.”

Kristoffersson Motorsport hasn’t turned its back on electric completely though, with the team still expected to field the battery powered RX1e Volkswagen Polos in ran over the last two seasons, while outside the family business, Johan Kristoffersson is chasing a third title in four years in the Extreme E electric off-road series.

World RX’s two other major teams, Hansen Motorsport and CE Dealer Team are expected to continue exclusively fielding electric cars in this year’s World RX championship, which will kick off at Holjes in Sweden on July 6-7.

Story originally appeared on Racer