In sodden conditions, the 29-year-old managed to keep all four wheels of his M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally4 on the road to round out a challenging day with a 2min 20.2sec lead over championship opponent Martins Sesks.
The day began in slightly different fashion, with Sami Pajari setting the early pace. The Finn snatched a stage win on this morning’s Scorpion 1 speed test, but was stopped in his tracks after going off the road and retiring on the following run.
Pajari’s demise left just Kristensson and Martins Sesks remaining in the title scrap. The pair fought hard, with just 1.6sec splitting them at one point during the day.
However, Sesks’ charge was dealt a heavy blow when he picked up a front right puncture during Cinturato 1 and dropped over two minutes.
To keep his hopes alive, the Latvian star has no option but to drive flat-out on every stage to try and snatch the lead whilst bagging as many Wolf stage bonus points as possible.
“There were very, very, very changeable conditions with different surface grip throughout the day. We started with a really good setup and strategy and importantly, we avoided big mistakes which is the main reason we are in the position that we currently occupy,” explained the leader.
Fabrizio Zaldivar enjoyed a relatively drama-free run to finish the day 36.7sec back from Sesks in third, whilst young Brit Ruari Bell completed the leaderboard with a 4min10.2sec deficit to the leaders.
Aside from Pajari, Fabio Andolfi was the only other casualty. The Italian driver crashed during the penultimate stage of the day, causing damage to the radiator and engine shortly afterwards. Andolfi will not restart tomorrow.
Full coverage from ACI Rally Monza is available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.