Sat 17 Jun 2023

Munnings and Åhlin-Kottulinsky star in support series

Ahead of World RX of Norway, much of the talk was about the new female drivers in the FIA RX2e Championship, and how long it would take them to settle in. Not long at all, it transpired...

Catie Munnings might have arrived in Hell with one prior RX2e start under her belt – at Höljes last season – but that paled into insignificance compared to the experience of most of her rivals in the high-calibre field, and she had zero prior knowledge of the undulating and demanding Lånkebanen circuit.

Just over a second shy of the outright pace in practice, the Brit – competing for Hansen Motorsport junior outfit #YellowSquad – got off to a challenging start in heat one with a late spin, but she was on course for a top five time in heat two until a small mistake cost her a position.

Undeterred, Munnings made a textbook launch from pole position in heat three and held her nerve to lead into the first corner. Despite coming under sustained pressure from local specialist Ole Henry Steinsholt – who had finished runner-up in his only previous RX2e appearance – she refused to buckle, staving the Norwegian off to the chequered flag to take the race win and secure the third-best time overall, leaving her fifth in the overnight classification.

Watch: Catie Munnings claims maiden win

“That was incredible!” the 25-year-old enthused. “Competing on asphalt is pretty new for me, to be honest – I’ve probably been karting just three times in my life! Coming here was a real challenge in that respect and I wasn’t completely comfortable in the morning.

“I certainly felt the pressure in that last race. I could feel the other guys right on my rear bumper, and beating them has definitely given me a bit of a confidence boost. I’m so stoked – what a mega end to the day!”

One spot ahead of Munnings in the intermediate classification is Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, who produced a brilliant run in heat one to go third-quickest – behind only last season’s top two championship finishers Viktor Vranckx and Isak Sjökvist, and faster than Team E stablemate Nils Andersson – before backing that up with the fourth-best time in heat two.

The Swede was denied a fair shot in the last race of the day after being innocently caught up in a start-line clash between Vranckx, Andersson and Sjökvist, but she nonetheless holds fourth position going into the final day of competition.

Similarly making her RX2e debut, reigning Extreme E Champion Cristina Gutiérrez is sixth, having impressively kept pace with countryman and series regular Pablo Suárez in the opening heat before adding a pair of top five times to her tally in heats two and three.

Fellow Dakar history-maker Laia Sanz was less fortunate, with a brace of DNFs rooting her to the bottom of the table, but she has a chance to fight back in heat four tomorrow (Sunday) before the semi-finals and final, with all of the action day-long to be broadcast live on RX+. Monthly and annual subscriptions can be purchased here.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM