Character building weekend for the women of NXT Gen Cup at Gelleråsen
The female racers of the NXT Gen Cup faced a character building weekend at Gelleråsen, with battles and some misfortunes for Siri Hökfelt, Louise Larsson and Katie Turner which brought mixed results yet crucial mileage.
After the two German rounds at Oschersleben and Nurburgring, the NXT Gen Cup headed back to Sweden, as Gelleråsen hosted the fourth race meeting of the all-new electric series. After Bente Boer made an appearance in the Eifel, Siri Hökfelt, Louise Larsson and Katie Turner were back behind the wheel of their LRT NXT1 at the 2.350 km track located at Karlskoga.
Elias Adestam was fastest in qualifying and snatched pole position ahead of Alexzander Kristiansson and Enzo Hallman. Championship contenders Ellis Spiezia and Linus Granfors - who topped the test sessions - had a challenging session and qualified 7th and 8th.
Siri Hökfelt had a strong run to qualify in ninth position, showing great single lap pace.
"In qualifying I focused on the last three corners and managed to put down a fast lap time early in the session, where I had the fastest sector three which was the corners I had the most problems in during testing", Siri explained. "It felt amazing to know that if I focus on something I am capable of being fastest", she continued. "I ended quali in P9."
Louise Larsson qualified in P15, while Katie Turner was 17th fastest. The young Swede had been battling with the car setup from practice
"I was ready for the weekend and had trained hard before the race at Gelleråsen", Larsson said. "Friday started with two test sessions, but I didn’t get what I wanted as the car felt loose."
"We adjusted the shock absorbers and it was a little better. Then it was time for qualifying later on Friday. I didn’t get it right there either, and was about 7 tenths behind", she added. "We continued to adjust the shocks and brakes so I had to settle for this."
At the start of race 1, Adestam kept the lead but was soon chased by Jonathan Engström who had started fourth on the grid. He made his way up to into the lead at the half-way mark - but Adestam remained calm and waited for his chance to strike back.
In the last lap of the race, he made his move and passed Engström with a push-to-pass, celebrating his third victory of the season ahead of Engström and Hallman.
Siri Hökfelt was the highest finisher among the female racers, in P12.
"In race 1 I had a huge wheel spin at the start and lost four positions early on the first lap", she recalled.
"I tried to make my way back up, but in this close field it was hard to catch up and I finished in P12 which I wasn’t happy about."
"I think my driving needs to be more aggressive at the start and overtake earlier on in the race, so that I don't lose more time to the people in front. But I'm always happy to find places to improve and develop more."
Louise Larsson was forced to deal with some problems at the start of the race, but made the best out of it to finish 14th, making good progress pace-wise: "In race 1 I missed the start, didn’t see the lights so I got off late. But the car felt good and I was about four tenths faster than in qualifying."
Katie Turner logged good laps, gaining experience and made up one place from her starting position to cross the finish line in P16.
The reverse grid for race 2 saw Isak Arvidsson starting from pole position - but the attention was soon focused on Granfors and Hallman, who worked their way up through the field and battled for the win as the race reached its final stages. Both battled hard and traded positions several times, until Hallman looked to have held on to the top spot through the last corner. Granfors, though, used his last push-to-pass time to attempt one final attack on the finish line, and grabbed the win by just 0,018 seconds ahead of Hallman. Theo Jernberg came home in third place to round out the podium.
Siri Hökfelt was eyeing a strong race after showing plenty of pace, but a first lap contact meant for a tough recovery. Nevertheless, she was able to charge back to P13.
"In race 2 I managed to get an amazing launch and took two positions before the first corner, but I got hit in the back by another driver and got out last after the first corner", Siri summed up.
"A disaster for me, because I felt ready to race and to overtake more, but in the end it’s the way racing is. Sometimes you get hit and sometimes you hit someone else", Hökfelt commented. "After the incident, I drove up to P13 and had the second fastest time in the race without using push to pass. So not a good race, but I think I showed some great speed and a couple of fights."
Louise Larsson had a great race and battled for a top-10 finish - until bad luck happened - and Louise dropped down the order after being hit in the very final minutes: "In race 2 I got a good start and worked my way up to P13", she recalled. "I had good speed and managed to get up to P11. I was there pretty much the whole race."
"On the penultimate lap, I had someone behind me who had his push to pass left, so he overtook me on the straight. But what he didn’t know was that I had one left with me, so I slipped in behind and lay guard until we got back out on the straight on the last lap."
"Then I used my last push to pass and went past and up to P11 again. Then, in turn 2, the impossible happened: I got hit from behind, lost control and skidded onto the grass. I came out again, and finished in P17."
Katie Turner came home in 18th place, after a learning weekend that still offered several improvement opportunities.
"Gelleråsen is considered my Swedish home track as that is where I got my Swedish race licence and membership", Katie told us. "The races for me were okay, not the best weekend I have had, but also not the worst."
"In race one I started P17 and made up one position into P16. In race 2, I ended in P18. I just could not find enough time round the track which cost me a few seconds", Turner explained. "Overall, this weekend, I learnt a lot and I am looking forward and very determined to be back up the field in Knutstorp."
The next event will take place from 31st August to 1st September at Ring Knutstorp, Sweden, with the championship battle now in an exciting phase: just three points separate Granfors and Spiezia, with two rounds still remaining in the inaugural season.