Thu 21 Mar 2024

Munnings: Lessons learned in RX2e have made me stronger

Reflecting upon her first real experience of rallycross competition in 2023, Catie Munnings has spoken about the lessons she learned from a partial campaign in RX2e, and the pride she took in her progress along the way.

Reflecting upon her first real experience of rallycross competition in 2023, Catie Munnings has spoken about the lessons she learned from a partial campaign in the FIA RX2e Championship, and the pride she took in her progress along the way.


From a rallying background – as the first British driver to clinch a European Rally Championship title in almost 50 years – Munnings successfully transferred her skills to off-road series Extreme E, in which she has established herself as a front-runner alongside 2019 FIA World Rallycross Champion, Timmy Hansen.


Following a few exploratory rallycross outings – including a maiden appearance in RX2e at Höljes in 2022 – she went on to contest the opening three rounds of the season in the all-electric single-spec series with #YellowSquad last year.


“I have always been such a massive fan of World RX and the excitement of wheel-to-wheel racing like that,” Munnings explained, “so to get the chance to race in RX2e was amazing. I began training in crosskarts with Timmy in Sweden and the conversation started to try to put together a deal for RX2e.”


The 26-year-old’s potential was clear to see. Following a stellar launch from pole position, she staved off a hard-charging Ole Henry Steinsholt in heat three in Hell to tally her first race win in the championship – posting a time good enough for third place overall – on her way to a promising sixth in the intermediate ranking. Her challenge was unfortunately curtailed at the semi-final stage when she and Steinsholt made contact at the joker exit, for which the Norwegian received a reprimand.


A second heat race victory followed at Höljes a fortnight later courtesy of another accomplished performance, as Munnings swept boldly right around the outside of her rivals to assume a lead she would not subsequently relinquish, fending off title protagonist Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky all the way to the chequered flag.


Then on home soil at Lydden Hill, after securing a brace of second-place finishes in her heat races, she looked to be on-course to reach the final for the first time until a puncture scuppered her hopes on the penultimate lap of the semi-final. Upon leaving the Kent circuit last summer, the Headcorn native said she hoped her adventure in RX2e was ‘just the beginning’ of her rallycross journey...


“The competition is incredibly high in this championship, with a lot of drivers returning year-after-year,” she acknowledges. “It’s not an easy car to set up – with lots of options with the electric powertrain, it takes a while to find your driving style – so to hold my own against drivers with more experience was a big highlight, and I was really happy to score a couple of heat wins.


“I learned lots about side-by-side racing, how to adapt to different surfaces and how to cope with the mental pressure of close-proximity racing – and I can’t wait to put everything into practice moving forward.”


Munnings was one of seven female drivers to race in RX2e in 2023, and she credits the forward-thinking approach of Hansen Motorsport – parent team to the #YellowSquad outfit with which she competed – for giving her the platform to advance her career opportunities.


“Susann [Hansen – Team Manager of Hansen World RX Team] is obviously a massive role model for me, and I think I was the first female to race with the Hansens since she was driving, so that was a big deal as well!” she says.


“One thing I love about the family is how they just see drivers as drivers. Having worked with Timmy for years in Extreme E, I know how he supports and believes in me, and doesn’t see a difference because I’m a girl and he’s a guy. He simply works with driver potential, and the whole family are like that.


“They also have so much experience both on and off-track – there are always such golden pieces of information you get from just having a chat with Kenneth [Hansen – Team Principal of Hansen World RX Team]. Working with Eric Färén was a massive highlight for me, too. He was my spotter and we won a heat race with his joker strategy, keeping one of the fastest guys behind – it felt like he was in the car with me, saying the right things at the perfect time. That was awesome.


“Between them, they have taught me so much about race tactics, how to follow on the bumper, the first corner and having a resilient mindset in racing – it’s so addictive! When you see results start to improve with their advice, you just want more of it...”

Latvia
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