The Swede won on home ground and finished second in Corsica to build a 13-point advantage in his Ford Fiesta R2 as the series reaches its midpoint amid furnace-like heat and rocky gravel tracks at Rally Italia Sardegna.
The WRC’s stars of the future face their third different surface in as many rounds following the snow and ice of a Scandinavian winter and Corsica’s asphalt.
Kristensson is unfazed by air temperatures exceeding 30°C and the need to protect his car from the heat and rock-strewn tracks.
“After I checked some videos and onboards, I know this rally will be really interesting and fun. For sure, a demanding rally as well because of the tricky and changing stages. Sand and stones are the name of the rally in my mind,” he said.
Jan Solans is his closest challenger and the Spaniard believes he has a secret weapon in his armoury.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to fight again for the podium. The stages are similar to those we have in Spain, so I’m used to driving on these kind of roads. I have done a rally here in Spain in test mode, and the truth is I feel comfortable and confident for the rally,” he said.
Dennis Rådström lies third in the standings, the Swede having scored his first stage victory in Sardinia two years ago, while Germany’s Julius Tannert is keen to strengthen his title bid after victory in Corsica.
“It will be a tough rally and I hope I can use my experience from 2017. As we have several gravel specialists in our championship, I’m sure it will be huge challenge to fight for the podium,” said Tannert.
Other frontrunners are likely to include Britain’s Tom Williams, who favours gravel rallies and has been upping his fitness levels by karting and boxing to improve his body strength and reflexes.