Mikael Karlsson completes Lestrup Racing Team’s four-car STCC assault

Mikael Karlsson completes Lestrup Racing Team’s expanded four-car programme for the 2021 STCC TCR Scandinavia season.

”I am very excited to join Lestrup Racing Team, especially after their impressive season last year and I hope to play a part in their title defense this year,” said Mikael Karlsson.

The Swede made his STCC debut last year, scoring an impressive debut win in his second race weekend at Skellefteå to finish tenth overall.

”Mikael impressed us last year and we know that he has a lot of potential,” said Fredrik Lestrup, team co-owner.

”We have a strong line-up with two very experienced drivers with Mikael and Rob, as well as two young talents with Oliver and Robin.

”To expand from two to four cars is a massive task that we by no means underestimate. But I know that everyone involved has got what it takes for it and we will work methodically towards our goal of defending out titles.”

While Karlsson is new to the STCC, he has claimed the 2000 Formula 3 Sweden and Nordic titles, as well as finishing as runner-up in the 2019 V8 Thunder Cars Sweden season.

”I’m quite comfortable behind the wheel of the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR now and it’s going to be really interesting to work with the team with all the new data they have,” said Mikael Karlsson.

”I have high goals personally for this season, but I know that we have an even tougher field this year compared to last. The main thing will be to claw into the top five and score points consistently.”

Mikael Karlsson is going to have Robin Knutsson as team-mate at Lestrup Racing Team while reigning champion Rob Huff and Oliver Söderström will drive together, just as last year, at Lestrup Racing Team by Volkswagen Stockholm.

The official STCC pre-season tests will start next week at Knutstorp and Ljungbyhed Park. The first race of the year will take place at Ljungbyhed Park on June 4-5.

Rob Huff returns for STCC title defense with Lestrup Racing Team

Reigning STCC TCR Scandinavia champion Rob Huff will return to defend his title with Lestrup Racing Team for 2021 driving a Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.

“I’m very excited to return to the STCC as champion after what was probably one of the most emotional seasons I have experienced in a long time,” said Rob Huff.

The Brit crowned the best ever season to date for Lestrup Racing Team in a thrilling season finale, as it claimed both the drivers’ and teams’ STCC titles.

“Last year was an awesome milestone for us all in the team and we are delighted to continue our successful cooperation with Rob,” said Fredrik Lestrup, co-owner of Lestrup Racing Team.

“We had high expectations ahead of our first season together that he surpassed, and then some. Rob shares our passion for motorsport in just the right way and we have an unchanged team around him that will be a key factor in our title defence this year.”

The 2012 world touring car champion managed to claim the STCC title despite never having raced at any of the circuits before, something only achieved once before in the history of the championship by a non-Scandinavian driver.

“It was very much going into the unknown last year and I feel much more prepared for 2021 as I have visited at least four of the circuits that we will go to,” said Rob Huff.

“That should definitely make life easier to dial in the car for each particular circuit, rather than having to learn everything from scratch.

“I’m hugely thankful to Lestrup Racing Team for what they delivered last year and I’m very much looking forward to getting started again. I’m expecting a very tough championship this year, probably even tougher than last year, and we will do everything we can to rise to the challenge.”

Lestrup Racing Team will field at least three cars for the 2021 STCC TCR Scandinavia season, with further information to be revealed soon.

“We have plenty of interesting news coming and we are working flat out to get everything in order for our goal of defending both titles, as well as fighting for the junior title again,” said Fredrik Lestrup.

“Being defending champions is new to us and it is of course a massive challenge, especially as it looks like we will have an even stronger field this year.

“But I am confident that we have an even stronger team this year after all the challenges we had last year to face the new season and to fight for the very top again.”

The 2021 STCC TCR Scandinavia season starts on June 4-5 at Ljungbyhed Park in the south of Sweden, for a total of six race weekends until October.

Oliver Söderström seeking redemption in 2021 STCC campaign with Lestrup Racing Team

Oliver Söderström is back with Lestrup Racing Team for the 2021 STCC TCR Scandinavia season and is looking for redemption after a promising but frustrating 2020 season.

”I feel that I had a breakthrough last season that did not bear fruit. But I am really motivated for 2021 as the speed and potential was there all year in 2020,” said Oliver Söderström.

The 22-year-old will start his fourth year with the team and his third season in the STCC, finishing fifth overall last year with one victory and three podium finishes.

”We believe strongly in Oliver and his capabilities, he proved that he is quick and can win races last year,” said Fredrik Lestrup, team co-owner.

”We have built up a really good relationship over the years and we are delighted to continue to build on that. We are convinced that he can win the STCC, if not this year, then during the coming seasons.”

Söderström had 2012 world champion and reigning STCC champion Rob Huff as team-mate last year, a cooperation he says has helped him a lot.

”I had a great relationship with Rob last year and I learned so much, especially in terms of race craft and strategy as he has so much experience,” said Söderström.

”I started the season strongly last year but retired from four of the last six races due to a combination of technical issues, incidents and mistakes.

”But I know that I have the pace and that motivates me for this year – to get it all together and fight for the very top. It won’t be easy, but that’s why we are here.”

The confirmation of Söderström is the second entry of Lestrup Racing Team for the 2021 STCC season, with Robin Knutsson being confirmed last week, and further news will be revealed during the coming weeks.

The first race of the year takes place at Ljungbyhed Park on June 4-5.

19-year-old Robin Knutsson joins reigning STCC champions Lestrup Racing Team

19-year-old Robin Knutsson will make his racing debut with reigning champions Lestrup Racing Team in the 2021 STCC TCR Scandinavia season, driving a Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.

”This is a key milestone for our junior programme and we are delighted to have Robin with us, he has shown impressive form during testing,” said Fredrik Lestrup, co-owner of Lestrup Racing.

Robin Knutsson will take the big step to the STCC from go-karts, where he has raced for the past five years, becoming vice-champion of the 2019 Swedish 125 gokart championship.

”I’m thrilled to join reigning champions Lestrup Racing Team and to take the step up to the STCC TCR Scandinavia,” said Robin Knutsson.

”This is a bigger step than I had first imagined as young drivers usually go from single seaters or a support class to the STCC rather than straight from go-karts. But this spurs me on and I can’t wait to get properly started, especially after my first test that went really well.”

Lestrup Racing Team launched the Young Driver Programme in 2020 together with team co-owner Kenth Öhlin, the founder of renowned damper manufacturer Öhlins, to create a structured way for young drivers to reach the top of Swedish motorsport.

”As a co-owner and investor of the team, I am very happy to welcome Robin onboard and to see our Young Driver Programme bearing fruit,” said Kenth Öhlin.

”It’s a brave step for Robin to take but I am confident that he is in the best possible environment to evolve as a driver. The capabilities that we have seen of him so far fills me with confidence ahead of the challenges that he and the team will face in 2021.”

Robin Knutsson is the team’s first driver to take the step from the programme to the STCC line-up of the team after a thorough test in November of 2020.

”He drove more than 100 laps at Mantorp Park last year and showed impressive speed,” said Fredrik Lestrup.

”The day started with freezing temperatures and rain, but he didn’t put a wheel wrong all day and set a competitive pace when the circuit finally dried up. We will work closely throughout the season to give him all the tools to take the step from go-karts to the STCC in the best way possible.”

Lestrup Racing Team, the reigning drivers’ and teams’ champions, will field at least two cars for the 2021 STCC TCR Scandinavia season, with further information on the line-up to come during the coming month.

”I am really excited to learn from my team-mates that have so much more experience than me,” said Robin Knutsson.

”And that’s my goal for this season, to learn as much as possible and build experience. If I can match my team-mates on speed, I will be very happy.”

The 2021 season will start on June 4-5 at Ljungbyhed Park.