Courtesy of Sharon Cox
Jessica Backman finished remarkable 6th Overall at 2019 FIA Motorsport Games Touring Cup representing her country Sweden. With total of 20 drivers on the grid at the Vallelunga Circuit just outside Rome, Jessica rose to the ‘Olympics of Motorsport’ event with tenacity being the only woman racing in Touring Cup category.
Having achieved historical success as first woman to stand on podium in TCR Europe Touring Car Series 2019, Jessica felt well equipped to race against world-class field.
Jessica: ‘I have competed in Touring Car Racing throughout the year and it is also the car type I am most used to, so this category fits me perfectly. I am normally fast on technical tracks and Vallelunga is technical, so I feel confident going into this race weekend’.
And lap-times/speed reflect Jessica held her own against 20 drivers from 20 Nationalities with best speed at 140.4 kph to the winner clocking 142.5 kph.
Driving for TCR Target in Hyundai i30 N which Jessica raced TCR Europe Series with, 22 year old Backman made most of special opportunity to represent her home country amongst Motorsport’s elite.
Jessica: ‘It was very special, to represent my nation in such a big competition, being the only one from Sweden in the Touring Car Cup category. Just being there was a memory for life, experiencing the Opening Ceremony driving through Rome and the Colosseum in the race car for example. And then competing in the Olympics in Motorsport with the Swedish flag on the suit and car was a special feeling’.
With Practice and Qualifying sessions throwing in a few curve balls, Jessica and Team remained focused on achieving P6 heading into Race 1 on Sunday.
Jessica: ‘I had some bad luck during the weekend, starting in Free Practice 2. I had two very fast sectors on my new set of tyres but then coming out of the hair-pin in the last sector I was going to shift up to 2nd gear but it went into neutral for some reason so the lap time got destroyed’.
‘Then going into Qualifying sessions, in Q1 I made my fastest lap time at the end of the session when the track became slower, so it was only good enough for P14. And in Q2 I was on a fast lap time but then it became a red flag, so I had to cancel the lap time. Then starting over again, I had a problem with the power steering so had to pit. I went out again and had the same problem. Then the team managed to fix it with 4 minutes to go so I managed to get a lap together that was good enough for P6’.
In only her second season racing Touring Car Series, Jessica has made huge strides in banking experience and knowledge gained finishing 3rd position at Hockenheim in TCR Europe earlier this year, along with guest participants in TCR Scandinavia and TCR Germany with results of 3rd at Anderstorp and 2nd at Hockenheim.
Heading into Race 1 and 2, Jessica remained in zone.
Jessica: ‘Going in to Race 1 I knew I had the speed to fight. I made my best start so far this year and was up to P9 in the first lap, and then took one after one and managed to finish P7 which I was happy with’.
‘In Race 2 the weather was a bit unstable, nobody knew if it was going to be wet or damp track. It ended up a damp track on slick tyres, and the rain kept falling down in periods which made it tricky’.
‘I made a worse start this time and lost one position. During the third lap I got pushed out and lost positions down to P12. But I didn’t give up. I fought back and took one by one and managed to finish P7 by making one of my best races this season. It was a good end of the season even though I knew I had a big chance to bring home a medal that weekend. I made the best out of the circumstances and fought hard’.
Making huge transition in 2018 to compete in race car Series with up to 35 car-grid every race, Jessica acknowledges her accomplishments remaining humble and grateful for all support and backing that has made racing possible.
Jessica: ‘Going into this season I knew it was going to be tough, since last year was my first year in a racing car. I drove in the TCR Scandinavia and TCR UK’.
‘This year I took a big step up to TCR Europe with a 35-car grid every race. My expectations were to try to make top 10 positions in the races but I never thought I was going to fight for podium positions. So, the feeling when I finished 3rd in the second round of TCR Europe in Hockenheim was unreal, it was like a dream come true’.
‘Then the weekend after I came back I raced in TCR Scandinavia. I finished 3rd there as well, which was a great feeling. Last year I struggled a lot in that Championship and coming back one year later I showed how much I have improved as a driver which was great’.
‘Coming back to Hockenheim in the TCR Germany, I finished 2nd. Close to the win was amazing. I have also worked very hard, studied every track, done a lot of simulator driving, mental training and workouts at home. I have also worked hard with myself to improve my weaknesses and become a better driver overall. So, for next year I’m going to work even more on my weaknesses to be able to improve even more as a driver’.
With such resilience in character to develop and refine driving skills, the future certainly looks bright for Sweden’s talented racing driver, not just in TCR Europe Touring Car Series, but also in FIA Motorsport Games 2020!