Women of the NXT Gen Cup return to Sweden after German rounds
The new all-electric NXT Gen Cup joined the DTM paddock at the Nürburgring, as the growing series continues to show good potential - just like the three female drivers on the grid, Siri Hökfelt, Louise Larsson and Katie Turner, joined by Bente Boer at the Nürburgring. Here's a recap of the previous rounds in their words, as they tackle the fourth round at Gelleråsen.
After a very promising season opener at Falkenberg, Sweden, the second and third rounds of the brand new all-electric NXT Gen Cup brought the series to the ADAC/DTM paddock at Oschersleben and Nürburgring. For the several young talents it was the first time into a big international environment, including the three female drivers on the grid - Siri Hökfelt, Louise Larsson and Katie Turner - who were joined by Bente Boer for the Nürburgring weekend. The Oschersleben weekend started with a pole position for Ellis Spiezia, ahead of Linus Granfors and Theo Jernberg in a twice red-flagged session, then ended when Filip Bartoš got stuck in the gravel. Fastest of the female drivers was Louise Larsson in 9th place, with Siri Hökfelt following in 12th and Katie Turner in P17. "I took it easy in the test session and concentrated on learning the track", Larsson told us. "I was happy with how it went and it felt good for qualifying on Saturday. In qualifying I was ninth, which was good considering we only got four or five laps on track due to a red flag" - she continued. "In qualifying the plan was to stay out and just learn the track more and more, hoping to improve my confidence with laps in the car", Hökfelt explained. "But qualifying was interrupted by two red flags and I only managed to get two timed lap times in, with my fastest being 0,8 seconds slower than my theoretical and I landed a P12." said Siri, who would still line up in a promising position. Race 1 was off in wet conditions - which was a new situation for nearly all of the 17 drivers on the grid. Spiezia held his first position after a great start, but Granfors battled for the top position. Shortly after, Granfors came to a halt on track due a faulty sensor and brought out the safety car. Spiezia stayed in front at the restart but on the last lap he was overtaken by Elias Adestam thanks to his last push-to-pass, scoring his second win of the season ahead of Spiezia and Victor Nielsen. Siri Hökfelt once again had a very solid race and came home with a tenth place and important points, right ahead of Louise Larsson in 11th. "Race 1 was run in the rain and I got a good start", Larsson recalled. "I was at the top for a while, but in turn 2 I braked a little too hard and slid off the track. I got back on track and managed to work my way up to eleventh." Katie Turner took the chequered flag in 15th place, also recovering from her starting position. "Qualifying ended up being cut short due to the session being red flagged, which meant I did not get the lap time in that I wanted", Louise said. "In race 1 I ended up in P15 which landed me some points." "Overall the race was not too bad, however, I struggled a bit with my rear tires and I felt I did not have enough grip."
The second race started dry, with Sebastian Kinnmark on reverse grid pole - but it was Alexzander Kristiansson who jumped into the lead before the safety car was deployed, as Katie Turner ended into the gravel and couldn't rejoin unassisted. Spiezia used his push-to-pass at the restart to pass two cars for the lead, ahead of Jonathan Engström who followed him to the front of the pack. Spiezia won ahead of Engström and Kristiansson. Siri Hökfelt finished just outside the Top-10, in a positive P11 and with Louise Larsson on her tail in 12th position. Unfortunately, Katie Turner recorded a DNF. "Before Race 2 I had realised the problem was confidence - when looking at the data I did everything right but I wasn't pushing enough", Hökfelt explained. "I spent all of my time before race 2 talking to some amazing people in the NXT Gen organisation and good friends to gain more confidence in both myself and in the car." "So in race 2 I was able to push a lot more. Trusting the car and myself to brake hard and late, feel the grip. I nailed the start and took two positions, then had the speed to overtake a few more", Siri continued. "While I was fighting for P7, a safety car came out. I ended the race in P11, which was worse than race 1 but I felt way better in the car and my confidence went up - which made me very happy about the race." "Race 2 was run in sunny conditions, and I had a good pace, but due to the breakaway in race 1, I started quite far back in the field" - Louise Larsson echoed. "I was fast on some parts of the track, but couldn't really break away from the back of the field." "There was a safety car for a large part of the race, so there were not many laps left to gain positions", the young Swede recalled. "I finished in 12th place, but was still happy with the performance." On the other hand, it was a rough second race for British Katie Turner, in her first season in car racing. "Race 2 ended in disaster for me", she told us. "I was fighting to keep my position and move up the grid when I made a mistake that cost me the race." "I went into the corner too quickly and when I went to slow down the car, my rears locked which left me spinning into the gravel trap. After this I was really disappointed in myself but overall it was not a bad weekend for me and I did end up getting some points", she rounded-up, having scored her first two points of the season.
The second German weekend for NXT Gen Cup saw the teams heading to the legendary Nürburgring to race on the Grand Prix layout. The three women of the series were joined by 20-year-old Dutchwoman Bente Boer. Bente made her international racing debut in the series, having previously raced in karting as well as the Dutch Mazda MX5 cup in 2022. "I have realistic ambitions for this weekend, especially as I've never raced at the Nürburgring before", Boer said. "But I'm preparing myself as best as possible and I've received awesome help from the NXT Gen Cup organisation in this." "The key thing about this racing weekend for me will be to learn as much as possible" - she concluded. The fastest lap in qualifying was claimed by Linus Granfors, who snatched his maiden pole position ahead of Enzo Hallman and Kristiansson. Siri Hökfelt was 12th fastest, ahead of Bente Boer in 14th - who made an impressive debut as she had never driven the car before the weekend. Louise Larsson qualified in P15 and Katie Turner in P18. The always tricky weather conditions played again a role in true Nürburgring fashion and drivers had to face some set up gambles: "Before qualifying it was raining a lot, and we were worried the qualifying was going to be in the pouring rain, but right before we hit the track it dried up, which I was happy about but also a bit disappointed we didn’t get to test the car in the rain before the races on Sunday - which where most likely going to be in the rain", Hökfelt observed. "Before qualifying I had changed the brake balance a bit too much, and I didn't get the right feel for the car", Siri continued. "The track conditions were also a lot different from practice and a lot more slippery and I ended up in a disappointing P12." The rain was forecasted and it was indeed a wet race on the first day at the Nürburgring. Granfors kept the lead at the start and throughout the first lap, until the safety car neutralized the race for Katie Turner's stopped car on lap 4. The wet restart was drama-filled, as several cars went off track: among them was Louise Larsson and the race went soon back under caution, eventually ending with Granfors taking the victory ahead of Spiezia and Hallmann. "I made a really good start and overtook five cars in the first two corners, but lightly touched another car on a wet spot and spun off and ended up last, moved up one position the same lap and was going to overtake another but misjudged and collided with that car", Larsson summed up. "My tie rod bent, so I went into the pits and didn't finish that race." Bente Boer had a spectacular debut, coming home in P11 on her first ever NXT Gen Cup race - while it was a more challenging race for the other female racers, ultimately finishing P16, P17 and P18 with Siri ahead of Katie and Louise. "Race 1 was a tricky one", Siri Hökfelt told us. "The race started with a dry racing line but starting on the right side I pushed the car too much in the start which caused me to wheel spin and I lost a couple of places."
"After making my way back up to where I started, a safety car was deployed. During the safety car the conditions changed a lot and it was raining during the restart. I wanted to gain some positions at the restart and got on the inside, tried to brake late but because of the rain I was too late on the brakes and drove into another driver at the apex. A misjudgement which cost me a lot", she said. "The mechanics got the car fixed in time for race two which I was really happy about."
Katie Turner's first half of the season was marred by some bad luck as well. After a promising start, in fact, her race came to a halt for a technical issue. "The race for me, again, was not the best", the British driver said. "Race one went incredibly well for me at the start but unfortunately a few laps into the great start, the car experienced a mechanical failure which meant that it came to a stop on the exit of turn one." The rain continued to fall throughout the day, affecting the second race as well. Victor Nielsen started from reverse grid pole and had a hard time defending his lead against Alexander Gustafsson. The safety car made another appearance on lap 3 when Louise Larsson ended up in the gravel trap. "It doesn't always go as planned", 15-year-old Larsson commented, having retired from both races. "I started last because of race one but on lap 2 I braked too hard in the first corner and got caught in the sandbank. It was raining and very wet, and on the lap after, five more drivers did the same thing as me." "Everyone has bad days and it will not always go as planned - this weekend it was my turn to have bad luck", the wise young Swede concluded. At the restart it was time to shine for Granfors, who used his push-to-pass, passed Nielsen on lap 5 for the lead and won his second race of the weekend ahead of Spiezia and Elias Adestam. Spiezia left the Nürburgring as the championship leader, ahead of the fourth round in Gelleråsen. It was a mirror result from race 1, with Bente Boer in eleventh place - completing a highly positive debut - Siri Hökfelt in P16, Katie Turner in P17 and Louise Larsson in P18. "Race 2 felt a lot better and finally getting to drive the car in full wet was really fun", she mentioned. Despite a difficult start, Hökfelt quickly recovered and had managed to move up to P10 just before the safety car was deployed. "After the safety car I made a small mistake and locked the brakes into turn 5 - and sadly I went off the track. And with only one lap left, I had no chance to catch up." Unfortunately the lost track time in the previous race translated into a more challenging second contest for Turner, who nevertheless saw the chequered flag and got some important mileage in difficult conditions. "It had rained heavily, which meant the track was wet and there was not much grip", she said. "I unfortunately struggled with pace and was not where I had wanted to be." "I hope my bad luck comes to an end here and I am looking forward to bouncing back in Gelleråsen". The fourth race meeting of the new electric series is in fact scheduled for this weekend at the 2.350 km Swedish track, which features 11 corners and new challenges for the drivers of the NXT Gen Cup, who had the chance to tackle the circuit for the first time earlier in June at the collective test. Siri Hökfelt currently sits 12th in the drivers standings with 31 points, while Louise Larsson is 15th with 21 points.