Friday, July 19, 2024

PREVIEW: 2023 FIA World Rallycross Championship – Estering, Germany

The RX2e class of the 2023 FIA World Rallycross Championship is set to come to a dramatic conclusion as the world championship returns to the spectacular Estering in Germany.

Set in Lower Saxony, about 50 minutes drive west of Hamburg, rallycross fans are delighted by the return of the Estering circuit. Featuring one of the longest straights in rallycross, where the electric cars will be able to really demonstrate their incredible speed, a tight, twisty joker lap that merges on the finish line, and a truly legendary first corner, this track is certain to provide excitement. The first corner is an uphill gravel hairpin which was the scene of one of the most spectacular overtakes in motorsport history in 2016, when Kevin Eriksson went around the outside of the entire field to slot his car into an unassailable first place.

Andersson leads a tight chasing pack in the championship so far. Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool

There is certain to be more drama this weekend. The RX1e class is still postponed pending the investigation into the cause of the fire that wiped out Special ONE Racing at Lydden Hill in July. However, this has not dampened the racing at events in the UK and Belgium, as the RX2e class have been putting on an incredible show for fans. Just five points separate the top three protagonists, and, as all rallycross fans know, a driver can go from zero to hero in the blink of an eye.

The Kristoffersson Motorsport-back Team E appear to be the team to beat. Nils Andersson tops the table at the moment, despite not yet having taken a victory this year. He in closely followed by teammate Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky. She catapulted herself into contention at the last event in Mettet, Belgium, finishing second only to her teammate Johan Kristoffersson, who, as a guest entry, did not score any championship points.

Åhlin-Kottulinsky did extremely well at a wet and wild Mettet. Credit: Rallycross Promoter GmbH / Red Bull Content Pool

The third driver in contention is #YellowSquad driver Isak Sjökvist. Of the three, he is the only one to have secured an event win, back at the opening round in Norway. However, he has had a poor run of form in the recent two races, and will be determined to reverse that bad luck at the final round.

“I have done everything I can in preparation for this race with physical, mental, and driver training,” Sjökvist explained. “Now we need to put the pieces of the puzzle together and hopefully we can pull out a strong result to climb onto the top step. I am the one hunting and the guys in front are very fast too. It is such a competitive championship so hopefully we have a good weekend. It is for sure that we will leave nothing on the table.”

Isak Sjökvist has his sights set on victory. Credit: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

Notable by his absence is Belgian favourite Viktor Vranckx. The young star pulled out of the championship before his home round due to the massive investment in the sport by the RX1e teams. Had he not done so, we would certainly be looking at a four-way battle. However, with the season now dominated by those backed by top-flight teams, his logic would appear to be sound.

The final round of the season takes place at Estering 19/20 August.