Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Andersson Claims 2023 RX2e Title

Nils Andersson is the 2023 FIA World Rallycross Championship champion in the RX2e class. “Mr Consistent,” as he is known, put in a superb performance at the Estering in Germany in the final round of the season, finishing second to Flying Finn Tommi Halmann to claim enough points to secure victory in the championship.

The weekend’s action saw no shortage of thrilling racing as the series returned to the legendary Estering circuit for the first time since 2019. Since his stunning debut at Lydden Hill in July, RX2e fans have been eager for Halmann to return to the sport. He delivered in style, winning all but one of the heats, as well as his semi-final and the final. Title rivals Isak Sjökvist and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky were right on the pace all weekend as well, but ultimately it was Andersson’s consistency that paid dividends.

Tommi Halmann dominated all weekend. Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool

The Rivals

Åhlin-Kottulinsky, Andersson’s Team E teammate, was in prime position to spoil the boys’ party after day one. Coming into the event only a couple of points behind Andersson, she pipped them to the post in heats one and two, leading the three of them in the intermediate standings. Unfortunately, bad luck was to strike her on Sunday. After qualifying well for the semi-finals, she suffered contact in her semi-final which broke her car’s steering, forcing her to retire from the race and ending her bid for world championship glory.

Still in the mix was #YellowSquad driver Sjökvist. He dominated his semi-final, finishing almost six seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Having qualified ahead of Andersson for the final, he pitched his car into the famous first hairpin corner and attempted to go around the outside of Halmann. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite pull off the move, having to adjust his steering input halfway round the corner, pulling him ever so slightly wide. This was all the invitation Andersson needed to slot his car up the inside and take second place.

Sjökvist attempts to go round the outside of Halmann in the final. Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool

From there, Sjökvist pushed as hard as he could to catch the leading pair of Halmann and Andersson, but ultimately couldn’t match their pace. For Andersson’s part, he did exactly what he needed to do. He shadowed Halmann all the way to the flag, securing second place and with it the championship honours.

Halmann will surely be delighted with his performance. Celebrating his 23rd birthday, he took the full compliment of 23 points for the event, and maintained his perfect run. He was extraordinary to watch at Lydden Hill, and has continued his remarkable form in Germany. Hopefully we will be seeing a lot more of him in the future.

Driver Reaction

Andersson is, naturally, delighted with his achievement, but was very magnanimous when talking to the press. “The biggest key to our success this year was that I had a really fast team-mate in Mikaela,” he explained, “meaning we could work together on finding the details and making the car quick. This title belongs to Kristoffersson Motorsport as well, because they are such a big part of it. Hopefully I can come back to defend it next year.”

Andersson’s teammate, Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, fought valiantly and was unfortunate not to make the final. Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool

Andersson isn’t the only one already looking ahead to next year. Sjökvist said “Nils deserves the championship. It’s been a pleasure to race him this year but I’m hungry for more and they’d better be prepared because I’m coming back to get them.” Reflecting on his performance this year, the Swede said “we are all fighting to become the best drivers we can and I tried to pull out everything I had this weekend and enjoy every second. It felt great throughout the whole weekend, the competitiveness is so, so high in RX2e, and it’s always the small margins that make a big difference.”

And so a fantastic season of RX2e rallycross action comes to an end with a thoroughly deserving champion in Nils Andersson. There has been some incredible talent on display all year, and it will be intriguing to see who comes back for more next year.

Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool