Klara Andersson makes WRX history in Portugal, becomes first ever woman on the podium
Klara Andersson became the first ever female driver to step on the podium in FIA World Rallycross championship's history: on Sunday, the Swede showed her great potential and finished third in the finals in Portugal. A big step for the Swedish driver and her underdog team in the Championship.
The latest WRX event in Portugal had some surprises for the fans of rallycross, as it wasn't Johan Kristoffersson to clinch both rounds of the double-header and Klara Andersson made history by scoring a podium - a first for a female driver in the history of the series. Let's recap what happened last weekend. Kristofferson (Kristoffersson Motorsport) started the first day of racing with easy wins in his heats, while the Hansen brothers Timmy and Kevin (both Hansen World RX Team) respectively won one heat. Ole Christian Veiby (Kristoffersson Motorsport) had a tough day with a few car issues and crashed in the wall on the final turn after a puncture in heat 1; he wasn't able to continue in the next sessions. Drama wasn't over for the Kristoffersson Motorsport team, as Kristofferson picked up a double rear-tyre puncture in the progression race and was forced to retire, paving the way to Niclas Grönholm, who won the heat for Construction Equipment Dealer Team. Veiby and Kristoffersson were back to win both semi-finals, advancing to the final together with Kevin and Timmy Hansen - as well as Gustav Bergström (Gustav Bergström). Klara Andersson unfortunately finished third in her semi-final and was slower than Kevin Hansen on the third place of the other semi-final - which ended the day for the Swede. "First day in Montalegre is done and we finished P6 after great development all day in terms of pace!" - said Andersson. "New day tomorrow with new possibilities." Kristoffersson and Veiby won the start against Timmy Hansen, while Kevin tried to pass from the outside but made contact with Veiby; it was a close call, but he ultimately made it past Timmy. Bergström took his joker lap on the first lap, while Timmy Hansen came in on the second lap; he needed all his pace to make his way past Bergström and eventually lost time to the lead. Kristoffersson came home first, adding another to his resumé - remaining unbeaten in this season. He would finish ahead of Veiby and Timmy Hansen.
Day 2 started with Kristofferson and Timmy Hansen making their way through the heats with some action in the progression race. Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen traded places in the leading position several times during the race.
But the drama of the day had just started.
Semi-final 1 saw the elimination of Kevin Hansen, who collided with Grönholm and was forced to retire, not making it to the finals. But, with a great performance, Klara Andersson came home in second, behind her teammate Grönholm, and secured a spot in the finals again after her first race in Hell, Norway.
In the final, Timmy Hansen had a great start and set his car in the lead from the outside line - but Kristoffersson responded back and hit Timmy's car on the rear tyre, forcing him wide and at the back.
Up ahead, Grönholm and Kristofferson battled for the lead; the Finn wasn't able to pass the Swede but he didn't need to: Kristoffersson received a 10 second time penalty for the collision with Hansen in the first lap, which dropped him back to last. Grönholm won, ahead of Veiby and Klara Andersson - who wrote the next chapter of WRX history, becoming the first ever woman to stand on the podium.
”Wow, what a weekend, especially as this is my first time driving here!" - said Andersson.
"And it was one of the most difficult but fun tracks I’ve ever raced on."
"I’m really proud of the teamwork and progress we've had. To claim my first FIA World RX podium is of course amazing, but I’m above all proud of the development I've made with my pace in the final." - she continued.
"This is a well-needed boost for everyone in the team and that we will carry with us for the next round."
The next round of the 2022 WRX Championship will take place from 8th to 9th October, for the double-header at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.