Double Podium for Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky on first STCC weekend
Extreme E star Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky kicked-off the new STCC season with a double podium in Ljungbyhed, Sweden. A promising first weekend for the Swede, who was back in touring cars and missed out a third finish in the top-three when she was pushed off in Race 3.
The 2021 season of the STCC - TCR Scandinavia got underway last weekend in Ljungbyhed, Sweden, without the reigning champion Rob Huff who will concentrate on his WTCR program. One of the top drivers that will be back for another full season and is aiming at that title is Swedish racer Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky. The 28-year old from Karlstad, who joined the series in 2017 and was the first woman to ever win a race in the premier Scandinavian championship, is also competing in the brand new Extreme E championship, as part of Jenson Button's JBXE team.
Kottulinsky was back last weekend on the tarmac in a championship that she knows well and where she has frequently set records: alongside two race wins, she also became the first female driver to secure a pole position in the series' history, and she would later claim eight podiums to her name with top-team PWR Racing.
Robert Dahlgren (PWR Racing), Mikaela's teammate, topped both qualifying sessions and scored the pole positions for race 1 and 2. Mikaela and Tobias Brink (Brink Motorsport) battled for P2 and Brink came out on top by just under a tenth of a second. The same three drivers were on top of Q2, to lock out again the front rows.
"Felt good with a P3, but we have more speed to squeeze out on track Happy with the process and we are ready to race tomorrow."
Dahlgren easily led at the start of race 1, ahead of Åhlin-Kottulinsky, who got ahead of Brink as the lights went out and followed her teammate the whole race – but couldn't find a clear passing opportunity. Both the PWR Racing cars pulled away from the rest of field, while Brink had to defend his third place from the attacks of Oliver Söderström (Lestrup Racing Team). Söderström attempted a move on lap 18, but he made contact with Brink, who spun and rejoined behind his rival. Söderström received a 10-second penalty that promoted Brink to third place again.
"P2 in race 1! Great feeling in the car today! Let’s head to race 2."
Just like in the first race, Dahlgren managed to claim a flag-to-flag victory in Race 2, leading from pole and without being challenged. Brink tried to pass Dahlgren at the start around the outside of Turn 1, but he wasn't able to make the move stick and had to held off Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky in third place.
There was trouble for Hannes Morin, who missed the first race due to technical issues and was to eager to start the race: his mistake resulted in a jump start, that got him a 20-second penalty.
Mikaela didn´t get close enough to try to overtake Brink; at the end, she finished third, just behind Brink in second and Dahlgren in first.
More exciting was the photo-finish for seventh, as Andreas Ahlberg and Hugo Nerman (both from Micke Kågered Racing), with Ahlberg finishing ahead of Nerman in the same thousandth of a second. This ultimately promoted Nerman to reversed grid pole for Race 3.
Race 3 was filled with accidents and drama: Dahlgren failed to start on the formation lap and was forced to start 13th and last on the grid. As the lights went out, the two VW Golf GTI TCR of Söderström and Robin Knutsson (Lestrup Racing Team) stalled on the grid. Directly behind Söderström, Brink managed to avoid the stationary car, but Morin crashed into the back of the #32 Golf. Both retired from the race.
Mattias Andersson (MA GP) took over the lead, ahead of Andreas Ahlberg and Hugo Nerman, with Åhlin-Kottulinsky moving into fourth place.
Brink went wide as he tried to pass Mikael Karlsson (Lestrup Racing Team) and was forced to pit at the end of lap 1.
Åhlin-Kottulinsky had showed more pace than the cars ahead and made a clean move on lap four, passing Nerman for third. A few laps later, she would go for the overtake for second; when the #19 Cupra had already reached the apex, Ahlberg turned into the corner and the two made contact. Kottulinsky's Cupra suffered a broken suspension that forced her to retire.
Andersson won the race ahead of Nerman and Dahlgren – who made his way up from last to third, with only six cars finishing the race.
The next race weekend will take place from 18th to 19th June at Skellefteå – were the Swedish lady had scored a second place in 2019.