Kristoffersson closes on World RX title by topping Riga qualifying

Johan Kristoffersson moved one step closer to claiming his first world title by qualifying top in the Intermediate Classification for the World Rallycross Championship in Latvia

Kristoffersson closes on World RX title by topping Riga qualifying

The points leader topped the order at the conclusion of the qualifying stages for the fourth event in a row, in his record-breaking run of podiums and wins.

Fastest in Q3, Kristoffersson didn't have things all his own way in the Baltic event on Sunday.

Nine-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb making the best start in the last race of Q4 from the middle of the grid to slam the door shut on PSRX Volkswagen Sweden pair, Kristoffersson and Petter Solberg.

*Watch live coverage of the Wold Rallycross Championship from Riga on Motorsport.TV from 12pm (UK only).

In the same race, double DTM champion Timo Scheider started fifth and hung his Ford Fiesta around the outside of the first left-hander section in the first corner chicane, getting his car stopped on the nose on the inside of the right-hander to move to second.

Loeb led from the front, as Solberg and Kristoffersson ran fourth and fifth on the opening tour.

Solberg took his joker on the lap two, having climbed onto the back of Scheider's Fiesta and eventually finished second on track to his former WRC rival, as Loeb set the fastest time.

Scheider was lucky to be on the grid at all on Sunday morning following a fire caused by a broken turbo oil pipe on his MJP Racing Fiesta in Q1. With the Austrian squad getting only an hour's sleep as it repaired the car.

But, he wouldn't make the semi-finals despite being fifth and then seventh in Q3 and Q4.

Loeb's result lifted him to second in the Intermediate standings, on a day where early morning damp track conditions dried throughout.

Mattias Ekstrom is third overall in the Intermediate stage. The reigning champion won his Q4 race in which all four of the EKS Audi S1 quattros took part and was second fastest.

The Swede claimed victory despite a huge sideways moment in Turn 3 when he dropped the left-rear wheel onto a kerb on corner entry.

Andreas Bakkerud spoilt the EKS party in the same race by finishing second, and wound up fifth overall, behind Solberg, who eventually finished second on track to Loeb as his former WRC rival set the fastest time.

All four of the Ekstrom team cars qualified for the semi-finals, with Toomas Heikkinen sixth, home hero Reinis Nitiss ninth and Audi DTM driver Nico Muller 10th on his second appearance in the sport.

Brothers Timmy and Kevin Hansen, the latter driving a 2016 version of Peugeot-Hansen's 208 WRX, along with Loeb put all three of the squad's cars made it into the top 12

Niclas Gronholm and Janis Baumanis both leap-frogged triple European champion Timur Timerzyanov into the semi-finals by passing the Russian driver in the same Q4 encounter.

Timerzyanov missed out on the top 12, as did Ken Block, with the American failing to make the semi-finals for the first time in 2017.

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World RX Latvia: EKS Audi driver Heikkinen leads opening day

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