Bäckman and Åhlin-Kottulinsky score Podiums in STCC at Anderstorp
At her guest appearance in STCC at Anderstorp, Jessica Bäckman returned to the podium, while Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky added two more second places to her successful 2021 campaign so far.
The fourth round of the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship at Anderstorp welcomed back Jessica Bäckman for a guest appearance next to her maiden WTCR campaign. The Swedish driver had already made a one-off start in the series in 2019, where she scored a third place in her Hyundai i30 N TCR car for Target Competition - and the goal was unchanged - to step on the rostrum. The weekend had started with the right foot for Bäckman, as she was second fastest in the first free practice with a completely unknown Audi RS 3 LMS TCR car by Brink Motorsport; she then ended the second session in eighth place. The other female driver in the series - the front-runner PWR Racing driver Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky - had a bit more troubled start and finished the free practice sessions in 8th and 10th position respectively. The qualifying session was dominated by the current championship leader Robert Dahlgren (PWR Racing), who secured his eighth pole position out of 8 qualifyings in 2021. Dahlgren was unimpressed by the long interruption caused by the car of Mikael Karlsson; his teammate Åhlin-Kottulinsky had provisional pole, ahead of Oliver Söderström - before Dahlgren showed his dominant pace. Bäckman was ninth fastest as she was unlucky with the yellow flags timing. Q2 saw Dahlgren topping the timing sheets again, ahead of Söderström and Åhlin-Kottulinsky. Bäckström qualified 9th for the second race on Sunday as well. Robert Dahlgren made the most out of his pole to remain in front of teammate Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Söderström at the start of race 1: he pulled away, while Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky needed to defend from the attacks of a determined Söderström for the rest of the race. Åhlin-Kottulinsky defended strongly, but in the final lap Söderström managed to get ahead. Mikaela, though, fought back and re-claimed the position to finish second, ahead of Söderström in third. Bäckman had a more difficult race 1 and, as she battled for ninth position with Andreas Ahlberg and Albin Wärnelöv on the last lap, Jessica went wide, got stuck in the gravel and finished the race in P13. Dahlgren started the second race from pole and defended his lead against Tobias Brink and Hugo Nerman, while Åhlin-Kottulinsky had a better launch and moved up to fourth. Nerman dived on the inside of Brink, who lost momentum and dropped back a few positions. Åhlin-Kottulinsky held third and was once again forced to defend against Söderström - but this time her rival couldn't find a spot to complete the pass and the race finished with Dahlgren taking victory ahead of Nerman and Åhlin-Kottulinsky, who took yet another podium. After the race, though, Nerman was given a 10 second time penalty because of the incident with Brink, which promoted Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky to second place and Söderström to the final podium spot. Bäckman crossed the finish line in 8th place, but due to a 5 second penalty handed to Robin Knutsson, she was promoted to 7th - which meant she was set to start race three from second, on the front row of the grid based on the reversed starting order. The third and final race of the weekend saw Knutsson leading from pole, ahead of Bäckman and Mattias Andersson. Both the PWR Racing's Cupra drivers Dahlgren and Åhlin-Kottulinsky started fast and passed Söderström right at the beginning. They were then held up by a slower Brink and Åhlin-Kottulinsky was asked to let teammate Dahlgren pass. In this move, Karlsson saw his chance, took the inside line and sent her wide, dropping her down the order. Dahlgren overtook Brink, while Nerman and Andersson made contact and the latter dropped down. Dahlgren tried to catch up with Nerman for the last podium spot, but wasn't able to launch an attack. Knutsson won his first race this season, ahead of guest driver Bäckman and Nerman in third. For Jessica Bäckman it is the second podium in the series and the second podium in Anderstorp - a personal best result. "It feels like a relief to bring home a second place, especially after the difficult season we are having in FIA WTCR, therefore this podium feels extra good." - commented Jessica. "It was really a challenging weekend to learn a brand-new car in such a short time but I am very happy and grateful for this result. Good work by the whole team Brink Motorsport all weekend, a big thanks" - continued a satisfied Bäckman. Åhlin-Kottulinsky was able to recover to P10 and kept the second place in the championship standings behind Dahlgren and ahead of Brink. After the race, Karlsson received a time penalty for the incident with Åhlin-Kottulinsky, promoting her to 9th place at the end. "It has been a very tough race weekend to drive" - said Mikaela, "We got good points in the first two heats, but it was an unfortunate incident in the last competition - a situation I am not happy with. Overall, a consistent weekend anyway and I look forward to the next round at Mantorp", added the 28-year-old Swede. The next event will take place at Mantorp Park from 2nd to 3rd October.