Wed 28 Jun 2023

Home heroes lead RX2e field into Höljes

A trio of homegrown heroes are setting the pace as the FIA RX2e Championship speeds into Sweden this weekend...

The season curtain-raiser in Norway earlier this month saw a close duel for honours between Isak Sjökvist (#YellowSquad) and Team E rival Nils Andersson, who placed respectively second and third in last year’s title standings.

It was Sjökvist who ultimately prevailed in Hell – by the slender margin of just over half-a-second – to seize the initiative in the chase for the crown, but behind the pair, it was fellow Swede Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky who arguably grabbed the biggest headlines.

Debuting in RX2e in Norway – as one of four high-profile female drivers on the ten-strong grid – the 30-year-old was right in the mix throughout. While not new to rallycross – having made a one-off appearance at Höljes in the RX Lites category in 2014, finishing fifth in a field that included current FIA World Rallycross Championship front-runner Kevin Hansen – the majority of her more recent experience has been in Scandinavian Touring Cars and Extreme E. It did not take her long to settle back into the groove.

“Hell was a very good weekend,” Åhlin-Kottulinsky acknowledged. “I knew there would be quite a lot of asphalt, which is the surface I feel more comfortable on after all my circuit racing, so my goal was to reach the final and I was really proud of the end result.

“That said, I felt like I was lacking a little bit of pace against Isak and Nils in the final, so I want to be closer to the top guys this weekend and I’m super-excited for Höljes! It’s the first place I ever competed in rallycross, and I’ve been a spectator at the ‘Magic Weekend’ several times too. The atmosphere is just something else. Even though it’s a three-hour drive for me, it’s still my ‘home’ event and I’ll have a lot of family and friends coming up to watch and support, which is really cool.

“Of course I would love to finish on the podium again, particularly at Höljes, but for the moment, I’m just taking everything step-by-step. I’ve still got a lot to learn in rallycross, but in the longer term, my aim is definitely to win.”

One driver well-accustomed to winning is reigning champion Viktor Vranckx, whose title defence got off to a torrid start in Norway, as accidents in both heat three and the semi-final kept the Belgian out of the final for the first time in his RX2e career. He will be targeting a repeat of last year’s victory at Höljes to get his season back on-track in Sweden.

Rising Estonian star Marko Muru joins the grid with the support of SET Promotion, while Extreme E event-winners Cristina Gutiérrez and Catie Munnings – both of whom showed an impressive turn-of-speed in Hell – will be eager to build upon their early progress.

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