Tue 17 Oct 2023

The multitasking champion

When Nils Andersson clinched the RX2e crown at the Estering back in the summer, he was justifiably praised for his superb performance behind the wheel. Less well-known perhaps is the Swede’s integral role behind-the-scenes at KMS...

When Nils Andersson clinched the coveted FIA RX2e Championship crown at Germany’s Estering back in the summer, he was justifiably praised for his superb performance behind the wheel. What has been perhaps less well-documented is the Swede’s integral role behind-the-scenes at multiple world championship-winning outfit Kristoffersson Motorsport (KMS). This is the story of the sport’s multitasking champion...

“My dad did this job before, from 2010 to 2015 as KMS returned to rallycross when the world championship began,” Nils explains. “I used to join him for as many race weekends as I could, so Tommy [Kristoffersson – team principal] basically saw me growing up, and as I got older, I began helping the team with some media and design work.”

That was how it all began, as Andersson dovetailed his early duties for the team with his own formative racing career. Success on the circuit was swift, yielding consecutive RallyX Nordic Crosskart crowns in 2018 and 2019, but a year later, he found himself at something of a crossroads, following a difficult maiden campaign at Supercar Lites level.

“I reached the final just once in five rounds and really began to doubt myself and whether I had what it takes,” he candidly recollects. “I decided it was time to either quit or go all-in. I went to Tommy for advice, and he put me in a two-car team with Gustav Bergström for 2021.”

The strategy worked. From 12th in the RallyX Nordic standings in 2020, the Arvika native vaulted up to second, winning on home soil at Höljes along the way and reaching the rostrum on three further occasions. Having gained Tommy Kristoffersson’s confidence on-track, it was now time to prove himself to the rallycross legend off-track as well.

“When KMS was putting together its RX1e project for 2022, Tommy asked me if I wanted to come on-board full-time as team co-ordinator,” Andersson goes on. “It was a huge task to build three new cars completely from the ground up, but he saw that I have a vision and a goal for my own career and that I will do everything I can to accomplish that, and he believed I could play an important role in the team’s progress, too. Since then, I’ve kind of grown into my current position as team manager.

“Tommy has so much experience, whereas I’m still learning. This is a rare chance for somebody so young and comparatively inexperienced, so the fact that he placed his trust in me means a lot. I view it as a golden opportunity, and in many ways, a dream job. I would never have been able to achieve what I have done up to this point without Tommy and KMS’ support.

“It’s primarily an organisational role, attending meetings, helping Tommy wherever he needs me and making sure the drivers and cars are where they should be, when they should be. Once the cars are out of the garage and on the track, that’s the easy bit for me because essentially, my work is done.”

He might describe it as his dream job, but the dual duty on weekends when he is also racing himself and trying to keep his two roles separate has certainly posed a few challenges...

“As I was fighting for the RX2e title in Germany back in August, I was getting ready for heat three when one of the World RX staff came and asked me about some team documents for Hong Kong – so it’s been tricky to keep the full focus at times!” Andersson laughs. “Structure is key, I would say, and I always try to plan as much as possible in advance to eliminate as many on-event questions as I can.

“We also try to hold team meetings on-site at the beginning of each day, which is when any questions do tend to crop up, so I can then get back to concentrating on my racing. I’ve got to say, the KMS guys are pretty good at not interfering too much, because they understand the difficult position I’m in – and it didn’t seem to hold me back last year...”

That much is clear, and in many ways, the 23-year-old – who studied industrial design engineering at university – has always been destined to excel in the sport both on and off-track.

“I obviously love driving, but I also really enjoy trying to make my career work from a business perspective,” he acknowledges, offering a nod to his enterprising spirit. “I’ve always worked really hard on the sponsorship side, and there are two stories from the past that certainly stick out in my memory.

“I had an oil company sponsor that used to support me with free oil, but at the end of the day, you can only consume as much oil as the engine requires. I needed more money to be able to continue climbing the motorsport ladder, so I asked my sponsor if there was any work I could do for him. He said he would have a think and then gave me a call a few weeks later to say he might have a job for me.

“It was the translation of some Excel data sheets, with each cell containing a description of chemical products that were in the oil. Even before he had finished asking the question, I told him I would do it. Then he explained that the rate would be €0,10 per cell – with 4,000 cells in total – and they needed translating from Swedish into German. The problem was, I was studying Spanish, not German...

“I spent a lot of time with my head in a dictionary or using Google Translate, but I didn’t receive any complaints afterwards, so either nobody ever read my translation or I must have been quite good at using a language I didn’t know!

“The other story involved a local guy who had a spa hotel. I tried to get him to sponsor me when I was racing in Crosskarts, but he hesitated quite a lot. Music has always been my hobby, so I told him I would come and play at his resort. I ended up playing 26 gigs there over the Christmas period, all while studying and holding down a full-time job as a car salesman.

“I was working from nine ‘til six, then jumping in my car and driving to the resort and not finishing until midnight or 1am – and doing it all over again the next day! It certainly wasn’t the easiest way to earn some sponsorship, but at the time, it was probably the only way. Now I can combine my racing with the ‘day job’ all under one roof, things are much more straightforward...”

As to his immediate future behind the wheel, Andersson is aiming to defend his title in RX2e with Team E next year, under the tutelage of five-time world champion Johan Kristoffersson – who he says has ‘always been very supportive towards me’ – and building upon the successful partnership he forged with Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky in 2023.

“Winning is the biggest motivator, and last season was the most enjoyable one I’ve had in the sport for a long time,” he reflects. “I really believe in RX2e and want to help the series to grow, and I see this very much as part of the bigger picture. The world championship is going to rise again and the manufacturers will come – and I want to make sure I’m there in the right place and the right shop window when they do...”

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