Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky seems able to compete and win in any car: alongside her successes in Extreme E and Nitro Rallycross, she made her GT4 debut in the Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia this weekend. And not only she became the first woman in the series - she also became the first female race winner after a dominant drive in Anderstorp race 2.
It was a new challenge for Extreme E and Nitro Rallycross driver Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, as she joined Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia for a one-off weekend at Anderstorp, in what was her first racing weekend in a GT4 car. The young Swede, in fact, has raced in touring cars (Scirocco Cup, STCC) as well as GT3 from her early adventure in ADAC GT Masters 2016 and 2017, but had never driven GT4 machinery.
"Excited to race a GT4 car for the first time", she said prior to the weekend. "I’ll be taking the driver seat of HKH Prince Carl Philips car as he won’t be racing, and therefore I'll join legends such as Ingemar Stenmark and Aksel Lund Svindal in the team – grateful for this opportunity, I’m sure I’ll learn a lot and eager to get out on track!"
She was the first ever woman to enter a round in the series – as she made Swedish motorsport history once again. Nevertheless, she kept the expectations low ahead of her first competitive GT4 weekend: "Just the fact that I will be a teammate with Ingemar Stenmark and Aksel Lund Svindal will of course be very cool" – she continued. "As for the competitive challenge, I know it will be tough."
"I don't even expect that I will step into this and take podium positions. As I said, I have never driven a GT4 car before. GT3, sure, but that's also a few years ago."
But of course Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky (Porsche Experience Racing) would impress.
Already in the first practice session of the weekend on Friday, she smashed the fastest time on track and topped the timesheets, 0.007 seconds ahead of Kenneth Ahnelöv (Race Team Gelleråsen - By AFR) and Svindal (Porsche Experience Racing). And it was no mistake, as she showed again great pace into Practice 2 and set again the fastest time, finishing ahead of Svindal and Krister Andero (Prido Racing).
The qualifying session was the first break from her dominant performance; Svindal crashed out and recovery of his car took a while. Ahnelöv made the best out of the situation, as he was sitting on provisional pole with the best as well as second-best times, bagging pole positions for both races. Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky would start race 1 from P4 and race 2 from P6.
Janne Gustavsson was the main protagonist of the first race: having started from third on the grid, he was able to pass Andero on the first lap and then pole-setter Ahnelöv on the second lap. Andero dropped back even further and was attacked by Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky who gained a position – before he fought back and claimed back the positions.
William Siverholm charged from P6 to the final podium spot, behind Gustavsson and Andero. Gustavsson had an overall clean race but his restart into the final lap was not the easiest one and he lost momentum out of the last corner to come under pressure from Andero, but managed to score the victory for the first race of the day.
Åhlin-Kottulinsky took the chequered flag in 4th place, but due to a collision in a battle with Ahnelöv – which forced the latter to retire due a broken tie rod and brought out a long safety car phase – a 5-second time penalty dropped her down to 11th place.
But the day was far from over for Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, as she would make series' history on Saturday evening. The Swedish star is now in fact not only the first female driver to have entered a race – but also the first female race winner.
She had no easy mission, starting 6th on the grid – but Mikaela quickly made her way up to second in a handful of laps. With great overtakes and amazing pace, she passed the cars in front of her and hunted down leader Siverholm, who had opened a 3-second gap. Åhlin-Kottulinsky was over half a second faster and quickly caught up with the race leader – and ultimately passed him on the penultimate lap, then gaining over two seconds on the last lap of the race to took home the victory on her debut weekend in the series – and with GT4 machinery. She preceded Siverholm and Ahnelöv.
The fast Swedish racing driver once again showed she can race everywhere and anything and will return behind the wheel later this year in both Extreme E and Nitro Rallycross – hopefully to write some more history along the way.