- The Norwegian claims victory in Sweden after a good strategy call and great pace
- Viktor Vranckx and Isak Sjökvist accompanied him in the podium
- Nils Andersson showed a great pace in the Final, but leaves Höljes without reward
July 2nd 2023, Höljes – After a thrilling race in Hell just two weeks ago, It was time for the “Magic Weekend” at the Rallycross cathedral: Höljes Motorstadion. This legendary track saw Ole Henry Steinsholt achieve his first win in RX2e, in front of more than 24.000 spectators, after an intense racing weekend.
On Saturday morning, the drivers used the two Practice sessions to set up the car, ready to kick it off in the Qualifying Practice and, especially the Heats where it is important to try to achieve the best result because, if they can be among top three in the Heats, they get Championship points. After the Practice Sessions, time arrived for the Qualifying Practice, where Nils Andersson, racing for the newly formed Team E by KMS, set the fastest time, ahead of Viktor Vranckx and fellow Swede Isak Sjökvist setting himself to a great start of the racing weekend.
In Heat 1 Race 1, Ole Henry Steinsholt took advantage of a great start, and didn’t miss the first place in the whole race, followed always by Cristina Gutiérrez, who only missed the second position when she did the joker lap in favour of Filip Thorén. Catie Munnings had a spin during her joker lap, and that made her go from third to last in that race. In Race 2, Viktor Vranckx got ahead of Nils Andersson in the start, and had to defend strongly against the chase of the Swede driver. After doing the joker lap, though, Andersson lost his position to Isak Sjökvist, who had already done it, and the #82 driver climbed up to second position. Marko Muru, in his first RX2e race, got a fourth position after a great performance.
Heat 2 brought even more exciting racing. Just at the start of the Race 1, Sjökvist and Vranckx went wheel-to-wheel fighting for the first place at the first corner, which ended with the Swede jumping over the pianos and almost crashing with Vranckx when he returned to the track. This action, though, didn’t make Sjökvist lose position, and stayed in just behind Vranckx chasing him for the whole race, but in the moment of doing the joker lap he lost two positions being overtaken by Ole Henry Steinsholt and Nils Andersson, who finished in P2 and P3 respectively. Race 2 went underway with a great start from Cristina Gutiérrez, who went ahead followed by Pablo Suárez, while the Brit Catie Munnings went wide over the pianos. Cristina was defending from Pablo Suárez, but the #05 finally gained the position with a magnific overtake over Gutiérrez. Meanwhile, Filip Thorén was lapping at a good pace, which earnt him the victory in the Heat 2 Race 2 once Cristina and Pablo did their joker laps.
The first race of Heat 3 saw a wonderful start by Catie Munnings, who got ahead everyone and defended against Filip Thorén, who actually crossed first the finish line, but got penalised because of track limits, allowing Catie to win the Heat. Behind, Pablo Suárez made contact with Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and that made him lose a lot of time and finish in last position. Race two was a testimony of a fierce battle between Viktor Vranckx, Ole Henry Steinsholt and Isak Sjökvist. The Norwegian driver did a perfect launch and passed all the competitors, while Vranckx and Sjökvist fought to get second position. In the end, Sjökvist went wide while fighting with Vranckx and Nils gained the third position.
And Sunday arrived, the day of the final races. Not even the rain wanted to miss the action, and made the conditions even trickier for the drivers. The morning started with the last Heat, Heat 4. In Race 1, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky performed a perfect launch and got in first place since the beginning. She had to defend against Filip Thorén, but she finally managed to stay in first position and win her first ever Heat Race in front of her home crowd. Race 2 didn’t lack action as well, and after a great start from Viktor Vranckx, Isak Sjökvist and Nils Andersson had contact just behind, trying to follow the Belgian driver. Ole Henry Steinsholt was also in the chase, but unfortunately, he had a spin that resulted in a puncture of his rear tyre.
After all the Heats, Viktor Vranckx, Nils Andersson and Ole Henry Steinsholt finished in top 3 in the ranking, so they earnt 3, 2 and 1 Championship points respectively.
And the time of the Semi-Finals arrived. The drivers were divided in two groups, according to their rankings after the Heats. So, Viktor Vranckx, Ole Henry Steinsholt, Marko Muru, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Cristina Gutiérrez raced in the first Semi-Final, while Nils Andersson, Isak Sjökvist, Filip Thorén, Catie Munnings and Pablo Suárez got their chance at the second Semi-Final.
In Semifinal 1, the Belgian driver had a great start, placing himself in the first position in the first corner. Not even a spin in the middle of the race and going a bit wide at the last lap could make him lose position and he ended up winning the Semi-Final, ahead of Ole Henry Steinsholt and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, who also earnt their spots in the Final. In Semi-Final 2, Filip Thorén and Isak Sjökvist had a huge battle for second position, since Nils Andersson, after a commendable start managed to cross the finish line in first place. Fellow Swedes, Sjökvist and Thorén accompanied him joining the awaited Final.
In the highly awaited Final of RX2e, the front row of the grid was occupied by Viktor Vranckx and Andersson; Ole Henry Steisnholt and Isak Sjökvist took their positions on the second row; followed by Thorén and Åhlin-Kottulinsky on the third row.
Andersson and Vranckx made contact at the start, before the first turn, resulting in the Swede driver going wide and losing the second position to his teammate in Team E by KMS Ahlin-Kottulinsky. But he recovered with an impressive overtake and went to chase Viktor Vranckx. Meanwhile, Sjökvist and Ole Henry did the joker lap and were pushing hard to recover the gap in front of them. After Viktor Vranckx did his joker lap, he encountered Åhlin-Kottulinsky and had a light contact with her, which put him in third position after both Team E by KMS drivers. But Andersson, who was leading the race, still had to do the joker lap. He managed to return to the track from the joker lap in front of Viktor Vranckx, but went a bit wide and Vranckx and Ole Henry Steinsholt passed through, while he spun, leaving the Norwegian driver in front till the finish line followed by Vranckx and Sjökvist. Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky arrived on fourth position, followed by Andersson in fifth and Thorén in sixth.
The new RX2e winnner, Ole Henry Steinsholt said: “With that first race in Norway, this is a perfect weekend to finally show up my true potential. We found the pace this weekend. It was a bad start in the final, but I just kept it cool. That’s the wildest final I’ve ever driven and it’s finally worked. I know that everything can happen in rallycross, especially in this condition, so I just kept my head cold.”
After round 2 of RX2e season, the Championship standings are as follows: