Monday, 26 September 2022

Klara Andersson World RX's first permanent female driver "proud to achieve childhood dream."

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
Talented, determined, and fast… Klara Andersson has made history this year with the CE Dealer Team, as she became the first ever permanent female driver in the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

At the age of seven, Andersson began karting, spending the next six years racing in Sweden, Norway and Italy, during this time multiple regional championships were won, but it wasn’t until 2018 that she switched focus to rallycross.

She then became a member of the Swedish Junior National Team of Motorsport, a programme established to support the most talented national drivers.

In 2019, Klara made a wildcard appearance at the 2019 RallyX Nordic season finale, and finished runner-up in the Junior Rallycross Championship before taking the step up too the senior category in a car built by her father and herself (a rear-wheel-drive BMW 120) where she beat a 50-strong entry list to the title.

Andersson posing with trophies alongside her BMW 120,
PHOTO CREDIT: Klara Andersson (Instagram)
A year later, Andersson tested STARD’s Projekt E car before joining the FIA RX2e championship, where she impressed on debut, claiming a fourth place finish at Spa-Francorchamps.

Having proven her talent and skill, she was invited to the Extreme E rookie test, and was later signed by Xite Energy Racing to compete alongside Oliver Bennett in the 2022 season opener, but after returning a positive COVID-19 test, she was unable to compete.

Whilst that door closed, another opened. The 22-year-old was signed to the Construction Equipment (CE) Dealer Team to partner Niclas Grönholm, who has 64 starts and seven career victories too he’s name. 

Klara impressed with a strong debut at the World RX of Norway (round one), finishing fourth in the final. 

With five rounds now under her belt, she made history last time out in Portugal, as the first female driver ever to reach the podium in top flight international rallycross having claimed a third place finish.

Arriving in Chile, as the championship driver for Extreme E, Andersson had no guarantee that she would compete, but after Jutta Kleinschmidt was hospitalized following a rough landing during Free Practice 2 ahead of the Copper XPrix, she was drafted into the ABT Cupra team for the weekend. 

It was a steep learning curve, but Klara impressed yet again, and in the semi-final pulled off a brilliant overtake on championship regular Sara Price (Chip Ganassi Racing's) to help claim the team's first spot in the final (this season). 

The final was a rough affair, but holding her own, she kept focused and error free crossing the finish line in fifth, but due to penalties for those ahead, the team were promoted to third. 

We caught up with the history-maker….

"I’m the third generation in my family to do motorsport, so it was quite natural for me to be put in a go kart when I was 7 years old, and I immediately fell in love with the feeling of speed," she said. "My family has always been my biggest supporters, and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career."

According to Andersson, her biggest success was claiming the SM (Senior) 2150 – Swedish Rallycross Championship in 2021.

"Winning the Swedish Rallycross Championship was big for me," she says. "The level of Rallycross in Sweden is really high, and to win with my BMW that my dad and I built and have been working on for the last 3 years was amazing."

Having had a successful career too date. If she did not follow the path to motorsport. Where would she have gone? Or what career path would she have followed?

"Motorsport has always been a huge part of my life, so I would want to be involved somehow. But I actually played ice hockey for 10 years growing up before I chose to focus on motorsport when I was 13. So I would probably still be playing if I didn’t make that decision," she tells us.

History was made earlier this year, as the CE Dealer Team signed Klara as one of there two drivers in the all-new electric era of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. What does it mean too be the first permanent female driver in World RX?

"I’m proud to have achieved my childhood dream, to be competing in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Of course it’s honourable to be the first permanent female driver, but to be honest I see myself as a driver competing against other drivers, and don’t see myself as something different. I’ve always competed against men and been respected by them as much as any other driver," she said.

Klara Andersson leading team-mate Niclas Grönholm at the World RX of Portugal.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
After all, at just 22 years old, she achieved a major goal on the track, and hopes to inspire younger women to do the same.

"I do however hope that more young girls get involved with motorsport," Andersson says. "It’s one of few sports in the world where men and women can compete on equal terms, which means you compete against the very best drivers, no matter their gender. That’s one thing I love about motorsport, and I’m so thankful that my parents gave me the opportunity to try it."

Early last month, the first-ever electric FIA World Rallycross Championship round was held in Hell, Norway, and Klara was very impressive on debut. So, how would she assess her debut, and what areas does she feel there is room for improvement?

"I’m proud of my and the team’s performance in Norway! It was an emotional weekend for me to do my first race at the highest level of rallycross. We knew it was going to be challenging, but to make the final and perform lap times similar to the top drivers was big for me. This is only the beginning and I’m super excited to continue working with the team and develop as a driver," she said.

"For me I’m focusing on feeling confident in the car and learning as much about it as possible. Taking it step by step and being consistent. I’ve never driven a supercar before, so to get used to the speed is challenging but so much fun!"

Klara Andersson celebrating with the ABT Cupra Extreme E team after a third place finish at the Copper XPrix.
Having driven a combination of cars through the years from go-karts, ICE rallycross cars, and electric rallycross cars. How do they compare? And, are they harder to drive?

"I can only compare to my rear-wheel drive BMW 120, which is completely different to my 4wd PWR RX1e! The difference in power and acceleration is huge. For me the biggest difference with electric rallycross cars is the instant torque, but also how the car is built with the motors and how they are placed," she explains. "It’s challenging for both us drivers but also the team, because it’s so new! There is so much to learn, which I’m really excited about."

Andersson competed successfully in a number of different categories/championships in her career thus, but where does she see herself in 5 years?

"My dream and goal has always been to race in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. I also think Extreme E is a great championship, and I’d love to race there in the future," she replied. "In the next 5 years, I’d want to keep driving in the FIA World RX, gathering more experience, exploring different cars and championships, and living my dream!"

You can follow Klara’s adventure in the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the fifth and sixth round of the championship next month (October) at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, or follow her on klara_rx (Instagram). 

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