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  • Writer's pictureVIVIEN STREBELOW

Double podium for Isabell Rustad, Emma Wigroth makes solid GT4 debut

The first event of the Porsche Sprint Challenge season saw a brilliant drive for GT3 class frontrunner Isabell Rustad who was twice on the podium - while Emma Wigroth made her series debut and collected important mileage as she transitions from formula cars to GT4 machinery.

Isabell Rustad, Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia
Photo credits: Porsche Scandinavia

The new season of the Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia got underway at Scandinavian Raceway, Sweden, with 12 cars on a grid that features both the GT3 991 class and the GT4 Cayman category. Two female drivers took to the track - returnee Isabell Rustad, as well as rookie Emma Wigroth.

Isabell Rustad has turned heads last year, when she made her debut in the series aged 17 and immediately contested for podiums and victories. She eventually finished fourth in the standings - and with the top three moving up the sportscar ladder, Rustad might represent one of the 2024 title candidates. Since her guest start at her home race in Rudskogen in 2022, Isabell delivered straight away with a double podium - and the young Norwegian will now try to do even better, as she returns to Fragus Motorsport.

"I thought I would do better at the end of the season, when I had gained more experience with the tracks and the car", she explained before the season opener as she recalled the previous year of competitions. "But there was a podium already in the premiere, one in Fällfors and two more in Falkenberg. With hindsight, I scored more podiums in the first half of the season than the second. It was unexpected", she said.

"It was a good first season, many good results that I am satisfied with", she added, as she will try to apply the learnings to her new campaign. "I gained experience on the tracks, working with the team and the car. I carry with me a good feeling from last year's season and what I learned then."

Isabell is joined on the grid - albeit in the Cayman GT4 category - by Emma Wigroth, who has teamed up with WestCoast Racing for her switch from formula racing to GT cars. In 2022, Wigroth became the first female race winner in Formula Nordic, after taking a breakthrough victory and a second place at Gelleråsen Arena in Karlskoga. She continued in Formula Nordic in 2023 and, with five top-5 finishes, she was sixth in the championship standings.

The Swedish racer took part in the pre-season collective test with high hopes of a continuous progression in her learning season: "I’m leaving Gelleråsen and the roll out with a positive feeling, I learned a lot during these two days and developed each session", she commented, ready to make her debut in the series at the curtain-raiser at Scandinavian Raceway.

"I know it will be very educational and challenging as I only have been in the car two days during the rollout but I will give it my all", said Wigroth.

In the pre-event test, Rustad soon showed great speed and was second fastest, behind new Fragus Motorsport's teammate Wilmer Wallenstam. Wigroth was fifth fastest, with a best time of 1:39.536 in a GT4 field that saw Krister Andero over a second clear.

In practice, Wigroth improved significantly and clocked in 1:37.867, signing the fourth time; Rustad also improved among the GT3 991 entries, but held second place behind her 16-year-old teammate.

In the 20 minute qualifying, Isabell made a further step forward but was eventually 3 tenths short of pole position and would share the front row of the grid with Wallenstam. In a tighter GT4 field, Wigroth qualified in P5, a couple of tenths off the top-three in class.

Emma Wigroth, Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia
Photo credits: Oscar Malmlund

Race 1

The first race on Saturday went underway with 16 year old Wilmer Wallenstam (Fragus Motorsport) from pole, holding on to the lead and quickly pulling away. Behind him, Ludwig Ellhage (Stenhaga Motorsport) had the best start coming from fourth: he battled with Isabell Rustad for a couple of laps and the Norwegian worked hard to pass him again, having dropped to third on the first lap.

Rustad was one of the protagonists of race 1, as she fought elbows out with the #96 car before she finally passed him and could finally pull away quickly. Ellhag was also passed by Fredric Blank for third position. Ultimately positions remained unchanged until the chequered flag and Isabell took a promising second place in the first race of the season.

Emma Wigroth showed some good pace and finished fifth in the GT4 class on her first ever GT race, defending and battling throughout the race.

Race 2

Wallenstam got away from pole position once again for race 2 later in the afternoon - but Isabell Rustad followed him closely as the latter had a better start. Eventually Wallenstam managed to slightly pull away from the Norwegian and scored a second victory on the first weekend, with Isabell retaining second in a much more straight-forward race that resulted in her second podium of the weekend. Blank was again third.

On the other hand, Emma Wigroth had a bit of a tougher race but still brought home a valuable seventh place in class and managed to finish every lap on her GT debut. The Swede collected important points and experience for the rest of the season.

The next event of the Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia will take place from 1st to 2nd of June at Gelleråsen.

Photo credits: Porsche Scandinavia



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