Aksel Lund Svindal is well known for his skiing exploits, having won two gold medals in the Winter Olympics and five FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Since retiring from the sport, he turned his eyes towards auto racing, and on 13/14 August will showcase his driving ability in his home country as he enters the FIA RX2e Championship round in Hell, Norway. It will be his maiden foray into rallycross.
“I have big respect for rallycross drivers because its a sport that is just action-packed,” said Svindal. “There is so much happening, and when you go out in the car for the first time, it’s certainly a handful but it handles really well. As Norwegians, we are familiar with the acceleration of electric cars, and both the acceleration and handling of the RX2e car on such rough surfaces is very impressive.
“Even if I’m only an amateur and this is just for fun, to go to Hell and see everything up close and join the action is something I’m really looking forward to. It’s no secret that I’m a big advocate of sustainability and innovation, and with the increasing electrification of motorsport and the incredible performance that will bring, I’m super excited to see what the future has in store.”
The Hell round, held at Lånkebanen, is the second of the 2022 RX2e season. To prepare for the start, he test drove an RX2e car at Circuit de Calafat in Catalonia with Klara Andersson and the unrelated Nils Andersson as mentors.
Although he escalated his driving career following his exit from skiing in 2018, Svindal already possessed prior competitive motorsport experience when he competed in the Audi Sport TT Cup‘s 2015 Red Bull Ring round. Among his opponents in the event were fellow skiers Felix Neureuther and Marcel Hirscher, while Svindal’s #96 was also piloted by ski veterans Jon Olsson and Sven Hannawald during the season. Now with more time to pursue racing, Svindal became a brand ambassador for Porsche in 2019, and three years later joined the Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia. Representing Porsche Experience Racing alongside fellow Norwegian skier Ingemar Stenmark, he won the season opener at Anderstorp Raceway in May and is currently fifth in points.
In January, Svindal and Stenmark participated in the Race of Champions‘ celebrity race in Sweden, where they competed against another skier in Anja Pärson and tennis star Jonas Björkman. Svindal held off Stenmark by 0.8 seconds to win. Although the celebrity competition used Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport cars, the main Race of Champions featured RX2e vehicles.
The 39-year-old is among a handful of Olympic medalists who can also boast racing on their résumés, especially in FIA-sanctioned championships. For example, reigning Dakar Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah won the 2012 bronze in skeet shooting. FIA World Rallycross alumnus Guerlain Chicherit is also a four-time ski freeriding world champion.
“We’re thrilled to be welcoming such a pure, dyed-in-the-wool racer and sporting icon as Aksel to the World RX family in Hell,” commented Rallycross Promoter GmbH executive director Arne Dirks. “He is a world-class athlete from a completely different sport but whose skillset, commitment, and lightning-fast reactions should equip him well to tackle the various challenges he will face in RX2e. We can’t wait to see how he gets on next weekend.”