Thu 03 Aug 2023

Åhlin-Kottulinsky: To be the best, you need to beat the best...

Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky arguably knows Johan Kristoffersson better than any other driver in the paddock, but in Belgium this weekend, she is set to take him on as a rallycross rival for the very first time...

Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky arguably knows Johan Kristoffersson better than any other driver in the paddock – she shares a car with him in Extreme E, after all – but in Belgium this weekend (5-6 August), she is set to take him on as a rallycross rival for the very first time. And she is relishing the challenge.

The Swede made an immediate impression on her FIA RX2e Championship bow in Hell earlier this year, reaching the rostrum at the end of a stellar debut for Team E, and she arrives at Mettet sitting fourth in the title standings – just ten points adrift of the top of the table.

Last time out at Lydden Hill in the UK, Åhlin-Kottulinsky showed strong pace and some lightning-fast start-line reactions, but her bid to advance to a third consecutive final was undone by what she describes as ‘a few mistakes and some bad decisions’. Having spent a lot of time studying on-boards of Mettet in preparation for her maiden appearance at the Circuit Jules Tacheny, she is hopeful of a stronger result in round four of the 2023 campaign.

“Lydden definitely wasn’t the perfect weekend, but we sat down with the team afterwards and went through everything and there are always positives and lessons that you can take away, from good weekends and bad,” reflected the former TCR Scandinavia Touring Car Championship runner-up and current Extreme E pace-setter.

“We still had some budget left over after Lydden, so we decided to enter Mettet as well. I want to stay in rallycross, and the more driving I do, the more experience I’m accumulating. I’m super happy to be part of this series – in my opinion, RX2e is the best way to get into rallycross – and my aim is to contest the full season next year, so my focus is very much on the long run.

“It will be good to learn another new track. From what I’ve seen so far, I get the feeling that the starts will be key, and it looks like you need to get into a really good flow to link the whole lap together.

“We only get a couple of short free practice sessions, so it will be vital to get up-to-speed quickly – especially with so many talented drivers in the field. The competition is going to be really tough, but for me, that’s only a positive – if you want to be the best, first you need to beat the best.”

Indeed, the RX2e grid in Belgium is the largest in the series’ history to-date, with 13 cars on the entry list – including a brace of world champions in the shape of Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen, as well as their respective World RX team-mates, Ole Christian Veiby and Kevin Hansen.

Kristoffersson and Veiby will join Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Andersson in the Kristoffersson Motorsport fold this weekend, and the 30-year-old Karlstad native is eager to see how she shapes up against the discipline’s superstars in equal machinery.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she enthused. “I’m used to sharing a car with Johan, but this will be the first time I’ll go directly up against him in rallycross, and I’m feeling really excited. He, Ole Christian, Kevin and Timmy obviously have huge experience; I have so much respect for what they’ve achieved and am sure I can learn even more from racing alongside them.

“Ultimately, they are here to put on a show for the fans, not to interfere in the championship battle, and I think their participation at Mettet will be great for RX2e in general.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM