Isabell Rustad scores fourth podium in Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia
Isabell Rustad claimed her fourth podium of the season in the Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia, after a third place in Race 1 at Gelleråsen Arena. The 17 year old Norwegian is in the battle for the runner-up spot in the standings at her rookie season in GT3 machinery.
Isabell Rustad claimed her fourth podium of the season in the Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia, after a third place in Race 1 at Gelleråsen Arena, fifth round of the Porsche one-make championship.
The 17-year-old Norwegian racer is contesting her rookie campaign in GT racing - and stepped up to GT3 machinery after only a guest appearance in the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 last year. On that occasion, Rustad had stepped twice on the podium, with highly remarkable performances at Rudskogen.
While she initially announced her first full season campaign in Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia at the wheel of the Cayman GT4, Rustad soon decided she would contest the GT3 class with Fragus Motorsport, with clear ambitions to progress to the Carrera Cup.
Isabell, who is the daughter of former STCC champion Tommy Rustad, previously raced in karting as well as GT5, driving a Peugeot 206 GTI in the Norwegian championship.
Rustad started her 2023 campaign with a fourth and a third place at Scandinavian Raceway, where she collected her first podium finish of the season. A more challenging round at Drivecenter Arena followed, as she was seventh and fifth in the two races. The championship then made its return to the same venue for a back to back weekend, and Isabell just missed out on another podium, scoring two P4 finishes.
But her season was back on its tracks at Falkenbergs, where Rustad was among the drivers to beat and she was twice second, behind series dominator William Siverholm.
These results were a promising base to build upon for the fifth round at Gelleråsen Arena, Sweden, where the young Norwegian aimed to score more big points for the championship.
Rustad built speed progressively into the weekend, improving by 1.5 seconds in between practice sessions and then slotted in third place in qualifying. William Siverholm scored his fifth pole position out of five and would start both races from the top spot; behind him, Fredric Blank and Isabell Rustad were second and third fastest - separated 17 thousandths of a second.
The grid of race 1 was determined by the second fastest lap in qualifying, but the top three remained unchanged. While Siverholm cruised to yet another victory, behind him the battle for the other podium positions was as heated as ever: Markus Lönnroth, Fredric Blank, Isabell Rustad and Jonas Sjöström swapped places throughout the contest.
With 6 laps to go, a contact between Blank and Lönnroth meant that the latter spun and dropped down the order. While Blank could retain second, he then had to defend from the aggressive Rustad, who aimed to second. Eventually, Isabell had to settle for third - making her fourth trip to the rostrum after another very positive race.
"I had a bad start and still have issues in getting the temperature up in the tyres on the first lap", commented Rustad, who eventually avoided unnecessary risks in her battle with Blank.
"This track is difficult to overtake and Blank was defending well."
Isabell had another chance later in the day, with race 2 scheduled for the early afternoon.
William Siverholm was unbeaten and continued a perfect streak in all the ten races so far, clinching the title at the end of the Gelleråsen round.
In the battle for the runner up spot in the championship standings, Rustad had an opportunity to extend her point margin to Lönnroth - but a first lap incident ended her weekend prematurely.
After a great launch, Fredric Blank tried to overtake pole-sitter Siverholm around the outside, but instead ended up crashing into Rustad - as the accident also involved Ludwig Ellhage. All three drivers were forced to retire on the opening lap.
Siverholm was lucky not to be collected and drove away to win, 6 seconds clear of Jonas Sjöström. Lönnroth's third place gained him second in the championship by one point over Rustad, in a first costly DNF of the season.
But with four races and two meetings left, the young Norwegian driver will have plenty of opportunities to fight back and reach her goal at the end of the season.
The next round is scheduled for 8-9 September at Rudskogen Motorsenter, in what will be Rustad's home race.