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Why Klara Andersson is a name you ought to remember

The 2022 season was an outstanding one for Swedish driver Klara Andersson, becoming the first-ever permanent female driver to compete in the FIA World Rallycross Championship full-time.

Credit: CE Dealer Team

Motorsport has always been part of Klara’s family, as both her parents were rallycross drivers and, thanks to them, Klara and her older sister, Magda, got introduced to the sport.

“My parents bought my sister and me a little go kart when I was 7 to see if we liked it,” she tells Females in Motorsport. “I fell in love with it completely so I’m thankful to them for welcoming me into motorsport, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to start with it.”

Despite starting her racing experience in karts, Klara never thought about driving in single-seaters to progress forward.

“I always wanted to try rallycross as my parents did,” she says. “I love this discipline because of the tarmac and the gravel altogether and the close battles between cars. Then, when I attended an event at Holjes, Sweden, at the age of 12, I decided to become a rallycross driver.”

Klara on her karting days. Credit: Klara Andersson

Klara quit karting when she was 13 to reach this newly realised dream. But, unfortunately, things didn’t go as she had hoped.

“I was supposed to join a junior rallycross class which disappeared and I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t drive anything for five years,” she says. “We sold out all our karting items and I was too young to compete in other rallycross categories.”

Those five years without racing were tough for the young Swede but she tried to keep herself busy by playing football, following her sister’s rallycross races and going to school.

In 2018, Klara was finally able to get back behind the wheel with her debut in the Junior Swedish Rallycross Championship. Her goals, after five long years without racing, were to make results and gain back her pace and confidence.

Her times were improving and, in 2020, she completed the season as runner-up, narrowly missing out on the title by a single point.

“I love the pressure and that’s something I learned to love,” she says. “That last race was so mentally draining. I was like 0.18 seconds from winning that year.”

In 2021, she climbed to the senior category of the Swedish Rallycross Championship and took the top spot.

“Last year I came to the same final but then, instead, won everything,” she says. “I’ve learned from that tough part of 2020.”

Winning the Swedish Championship in 2021 opened up Klara the opportunity to make her debut in RX2e (feeder series of the FIA World Rallycross Championship) in the last two Rounds of the 2021 season, which were held at Spa-Francorchamps and the legendary Nürburgring.

“If I didn’t do the race at Spa, I would have never driven in World RX,” she says. “It was quite scary because that was my international debut. I knew that I had eyes on me.”

She eventually finished fourth in her inaugural electric rallycross race.

“That was the first proper rallycross electric car I drove,” she says. “The first impression was instant power. I was pleasantly impressed by how logical the car was and how it behaved. I enjoyed those two races in RX2e, and I learned a lot about handling electric cars.”

Klara on her RX2e debut. Credit: Klara Andersson

This opportunity secured Klara a full-time seat for the 2022 World RX season, where she competed for the brand-new Construction Equipment Dealer Team alongside team-mate Niclas Grönholm.

World RX is one of the six official world championships in motorsport (alongside Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship and World Rally-Raid Championship). This discipline stands out for its head-to-head short, sharp racing on mixed surfaces in amphitheater venues.

The start of the electric era in 2022 came with an exciting new race format - a standing-start single-lap SuperPole shootout, heats, progression races, two semi-finals and one final – with up to five cars starting each race in a side-by-side grid formation. All the drivers are equipped with all-electric RX1e cars which are fitted with twin power units that produce 500kW – equivalent to 680bhp – and 880Nm of instant torque.

Klara’s 2022 RX1e car. Credit: CE Dealer Team

“This season has been intense,” Klara says. “It’s been mind-blowing at times, and it’s been a big step from the Swedish championship straight up to the world championship.

“Facing legends like Johan Kristofferson, Timmy Hansen...I’ve been watching these drivers since I was in high school and just dreamed to be like them in the future. Now I’m standing next to them on the grid.”

With 10 races at six different venues, it was all new for Klara.

“It’s been challenging, but it’s been also very motivating, and inspiring,” she says. “The biggest challenge for me was that I’d never driven a strong car like that before so I had to get used to that first of all. Moreover, I had to learn new tracks every weekend.”

Klara finished her rookie season in seventh, with a total of 102 points, which included a podium finish in Portugal, and two finals appearances that resulted in two fourth places.

“This was probably the year I learned the most in my career,” she says. “The team has been great and to be the first permanent female, then getting a podium and a heat win - it’s bigger than I thought the season would be and I’m hungry for more. For a rookie year, it was a good one.”

Her improvements race-by-race were noticed and she finished the season at Nurburgring in a different light.

“Germany was my best weekend, performance-wise, of the season,” she says. “My times were really good. I got the heat win and then I was just a few tenths off to win the progression race and then I qualified for the finals.”

Credit: CE Dealer Team

Her electric adventure didn’t stop here as, in February 2022, she was due to debut at the Extreme E season-opener in Saudi Arabia with XITE Energy Racing, alongside Oliver Bennett. Sadly, Klara didn’t compete as she tested positive for COVID-19.

That ‘Klara & Extreme E relationship’ is not something new. Her first experience behind the wheel of the electric ODYSSEY 21 was in the Rookie Test of 2021, in Sardinia.

“It was just a dream come true,” Klara says. “I did the Rookie Test last year with the team of Carlos Sainz Sr. I did four laps and that was with the old spec of the car which was more harsh and difficult.”

All the stars seemed to align for the Swedish driver as she became a reserve driver for the electric offroad series from the second event of the 2022 season and she had to replace Jutta Kleinschmidt, who got injured in the fourth round, held in Chile.

Klara and team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah finished that race in third position, and in the last round of Extreme E, held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, she showed her speed by taking the first win for both her and team ABT Cupra XE.

“Coming to Uruguay, I had proper preparation,” she says. “In Q1, we were the quickest but then we got a penalty. The pace was really good and I felt confident all week because Nasser is a really quick driver. I was happy to match his times and to give him and the team the possibility to fight for the podium. It was a dream come true and that winning feeling was just unbelievable. I’ll never forget that day.”

Klara and ABT Cupra XE team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah celebrating their win. Credit: Sam Bloxham

We couldn’t not ask her about her 2023 plans but she made it clear that her goal is to compete full-time in both World RX and Extreme E and she has been in contact already with a few teams. Nothing, by the way, is set yet.

“After racing, I would like to get a team principal role or run my team, continuing to work in motorsport - it’s my passion,” she says. “Also, working with the FIA to bring more diversity into the sport and improve it.”


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