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  • Writer's pictureSIMONE PASSARELLO

Eyes on the Future: a chat with Cecilia Hedqvist

In this new chapter of "Eyes On The Future", we discover sixteen-year old Cecilia Hedqvist, a bright upcoming star from the new Swedish karting movement.

Ph credits: Cecilia Hedqvist

After the successful past episodes, our guest of this week's karting interview is one of the most interesting female drivers currently on the European karting scene: Swede Cecilia Hedqvist.

Cecilia, born in 2003 in Luleå, the second biggest city in Northern Sweden, is a young lady that has already shown great potential in a very little time, and should be considered a real promising profile by motor racing enthusiasts.

Starting in the Cadetti class at the age of seven, Cecilia stepped up to the much more competitive Mini 60 category two years later.

In 2016, the young Swede understood that she had the speed to compete at the highest level and, despite some misfortune very typical of motorsports, Cecilia was quickly able to reach the first notable results of the career.

One year later, she changed her programme and moved forward into the Rotax Junior competitions, improving race after race and adding even more important experiences to her resumé, before making the definitive step to OKJ and OK classes.

Cecilia Hedqvist in now one of the most prominent names of a new Swedish female karting wave - a profile that we are looking forwad to follow in the next future chapters of a possible succesfull career ahead.

"The first time when we went to a race as spectators, I didn't want to leave the track when my father told me it was time to go home because I liked the sport so much already from the first time."

"My passion for motorsport comes from my father, he competed in karting when he was younger and introduced me to the sport." - Cecilia tells us about the beginning of her love for the sport.

"The first time when we went to a race as spectators, I didn't want to leave the track when my father told me it was time to go home because I liked the sport so much already from the first time."

RACERS: Talk us through your favourite moment of your career so far and if you have one, the most difficult time from your early years in the sport.

CECILIA: "One of my favorite moments so far, was when I won a heat in the junior category on the rain - I've always struggled on that condition."

"I was starting P6 and I don't really know how I managed to go all the way to the top, but I felt that I had a lot of grip when I was driving and I actually thought 'Why is everyone driving so slow?'. In the end, I won the heat with almost three seconds and I think everyone was quite surprised about my driving when we came in after the race."

"In my final year in Mini 60, I had a lot of bad luck to be honest, in some races the kart didn't start directly and then I had to start last. Even though I drove well at the majority of the races and finished at the top, I never got to experience the feeling of being the best and show what I'm really capable of."

R: How was your move from the lower junior classes to the most prestigious OK competitions?

C: "It is a very big step, it is not so many competitors in the OK category where I live, so I always have to go minimum 1000 km to the closest races in Sweden. I feel that the drivers are more experienced and therefore, the races are a bit tougher even though the drivers are more respectful than in the minor leagues."

R: Coming from a place where the weather conditions are usually different compared to the rest of continental Europe, how do you adapt yourself and your driving style when you have to compete outside Nordic countries?

C: "In Sweden, the tracks are normally very slippery, unless it's not very warm and a big competition is going on for days.

My driving style is very smooth and I think it fits better on tracks outside of Sweden so I don't have to adapt it very much, I might have to be a bit more aggressive than normal."

R: You can also benefit from the support of two of the most famous racing drivers from your Country, TCR stars Jessica and Andreas Bäckman. Where does your relationship come from?

C: "The story behind my relationship with Jessica and Andreas Bäckman started in 2015 when they started to coach me."

"My sister is in a relationship with Andreas and that's the reason why he started to coach me when he was home from his international races and after a while, Jessica also came along."

Jessica and Andreas Bäckman, currently competing in the TCR Europe championship, are two of the most relevant Swedish racing drivers competing today, a really important source of information for the development of a young hopeful like Cecilia. We asked them to comment about the young karter that could soon follow in their footsteps and represent Sweden internationally.

"Cecilia is a young talent that me and Andreas started to coach in 2015." - said Jessica.

"She has proven that she's willing to learn and wanting to improve. She always smiles, no matter what, and is a star for the future. It's a pleasure to be a part of her progress."

Andreas added: "I started to coach Cecilia in 2015 as we knew each other since she is my girlfriend’s sister and drives for the same local club as me. She was then driving in Mini 60, and immediately picked up mine and Jessica’s advice when we’re out for testing and races, which is very fun to see a big improvement in such a short time. Which means she is willing to learn, which is very important to reach the top in Motorsport."

"She then stepped up to OKJ and now OK last year and I can see very good potential already in her first year, which she especially showed in last year’s Swedish Championship in Kristianstad when she was fighting for the podium and had very good speed."

"If she keeps to work hard and keeps improving as she has done so far, she will soon be fighting in the top in the OK category." - concluded the Hyundai racing star.

R: During the 2019 season you competed in the World Championship as a member of Ward Racing, a team that in the past years featured several female racers in their crews. Tell us a little more about your experience with them.

C: "Ward Racing is a family team, where every member really gets to feel like they are a part of the family. Rebecca Ward is like the big sister for everyone and wants the drivers to feel like they are at home, even if they are at a race without their own family.

The mechanics are friendly and always try to help out about the driving on track and want to find the best settings for every individual driver."

R: Do you have a role model?

C: "I don't have one specific role model, I look up to a lot of drivers and I get inspired when drivers are doing well.

When I was younger, my role model was Ayrton Senna since he never gave up and was amazing on the wet conditions, that's something I will always try to achieve."

R: What role does your family play in your career? Have they always supported your dream?

C: "When I drive in Sweden, my father is my mechanic and he drives through the whole country with me to go to the races. My oldest sister is helping me a lot with media and follows to the races when she has time. My mum is my biggest supporter and also the most nervous one. My other sister is not so interested in motorsport and therefore, it's nice when she gives me the pep talks because it very often makes me relax and laugh."

R: Outside the racetrack, who is Cecilia? How would you describe yourself?

C: "I'm a sixteen year old girl that laughs easily but I can also be shy when I'm around other people than my family."

"I spend a lot of time with my dog Sansa and in the summertime we train agility on the backyard."

R: What are your passions besides motorsport ?

C: "I would say that one of my passions is dogs and animals in general, I spend a lot of time with my sisters when I'm home."

R: What do your racing program look like for the upcoming months when it will be possible to return to do what you love on tracks?

C: "My plan is to do the European championship, Champions of the future and some races in Swedish Kart League. But everything is still very unclear for the moment so we will see."

R: What are your main goals for the future?

C: I want to become Swedish champion someday in the future.

"When I was younger, my role model was Ayrton Senna since he never gave up and was amazing on the wet conditions, that's something I will always try to achieve."

Ph credits: Cecilia Hedqvist



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