Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinksy had an impressive debut in Nitro RX SxS category, as the Swede showed great pace all weekend and took a stunning victory at The Firm. American NASCAR star Hailie Deegan was fourth and fifth in the two finals.
The Firm, North Carolina, USA, hosted the final round of the 2021 Nitro RX series - and our attention was on the SxS (Side by Side) class, with two top female racing drivers on the grid. American NASCAR star Hailie Deegan - who had just been voted as the Truck Series most popular driver - and Swedish Extreme E and STCC protagonist Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky.
The Swede immediately impressed: from day one, she showed great speed and went faster and faster each session. With a bit of bad luck, she was forced to run the last-chance-qualify on Saturday, as she suffered a suspension issue while running second in her heat.
In Saturday's final heat, Hailie Deegan started from the front row while Åhlin-Kottulinsky lined up on the second row. As Willis pulled away, the battle behind him was on fire: Mikaela had an amazing start, jumped instantly up to P2 while Deegan dropped back to fifth.
Already on the second lap, Willis, Kottulinsky, Maddison, Deegan and McFarlane were going into an early joker lap; Willis and Mikaela moved into the lead and pulled away. The young Swedish driver tried everything to overtake - and the battle gave third-placed Williams the chance to get closer to Åhlin-Kottulinsky as he tried to fight her for second.
On the last lap, Willis made the most of the free air and pulled away, but the battle between Mikaela and Williams got heated: after a jump, he grabbed the opportunity to go alongside and made the move but rolled over. Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky finished second, behind Kory Willis and more than 8 seconds clear of Scottie Lawrence.
"That’s a P2 for today! So much fun racing here at Nitro Rallycross, tomorrow we go again!" - she commented after the race.
"So thankful for all the support I’m getting from everyone at this event", she concluded.
Hailie Deegan came home with a 5th place.
The second day of racing at The Firm meant another action-packed day for both Hailie Deegan and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky in the SxS class final.
Mikaela took the start once again from the second row, while Hailie had to recover from row 3. Half of the field decided to go into an early joker lap again, including Mikaela and Hailie. Åhlin-Kottulinsky came out in second, behind Blake Williams and went on the hunt when Williams made a mistake up the hill and rolled his car. He landed on his wheels and continued, but stopped some meters later.
It was then a Kottulinsky-show, as she led the race ahead of Hailie in a female 1-2.
But when Willis came out of his joker lap, he could snatch the second place and tried to chase down Mikaela - who had meanwhile pulled away. Åhlin-Kottulinsky managed her lead intelligently and, with great skills under braking, she maintained the gap to Willis and Maddison - the latter having demoted Deegan to fourth after his joker lap. Deegan had suffered from braking issues.
"P1 today! Wow what a weekend it’s been, such a great experience racing here at Nitro Rallycross." - said Åhlin-Kottulinsky. "Thanks for making it happen, and an epic job from Jeb, Manny and everyone else, I’ve really had the best support."
"Hope to be back racing here again soon", said a happy Mikaela was happy after her successful weekend at The Firm.
We will see the fast Swedish lady again in action from 18th to 19th December at the Jurassic X Prix, final round of the inaugural Extreme E season.