In Conversation with Karolina Koristkova

Guest blog by Thiemo Albers-Daly

Karolina Koristkova is a Czech racing driver who specialises in rallying. Coming from a family of racing, it was almost inevitable then that Karolina would follow suit and today, she’s joined forces with Skoda to turn her rallying dream into a reality. We caught up a little while back to chat about all of this, Rally Spain, her favourite racing memory to date, if she’d rather have a dinosaur or a dragon as a pet and much more!

What first got you interested in motorsport?

My family loves motorsport. I have two older brothers who used to take me to the workshop and my Dad taught me about cars. When I was little, my brother Robert, along with Dad, built a historic car for an amateur rally – the Škoda 130LR – and that is how it all started.

We used to go to races in the Czech Republic, the whole family lived by it.

In 2011, my brother started racing at the official Czech Rally Championship and became the vice-champion of the Czech Republic in his category with the Honda Civic Vti. The following year he became the champion of the Czech Republic with the Suzuki Ignis S1600 in his category and 2WD, then the vice-champion with the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX and so on.

I was for sure the biggest fan and as a child, I remember these victories very much. He became my role model in rallying and I decided to follow him. Our Mom has been interested in motorsport since she was young, so she didn’t miss any races. Unfortunately, there was no money for me to start racing and the priority was and still is education, so I had to choose a career direction. Anyway, the plans to start competing like a driver at a rally are still alive and I will not give up on this dream – I want to at least try it at amateur competitions one day!

Why do you love rallying so much?

I love motorsport. I am in love with rally of course, but I also like to go karting, riding a quad bike, watching motocross races, drifts, but rallying is the Queen of motorsport. The adrenaline in a rally is incredible.

How did you join the Skoda Motorsport team?

As I mentioned, I wanted to get into the world of rallying. SKODA Motorsport is a team that has been in a winning category in WRC and around the world for years. As a child, I used to go around this factory team in the service park, for example, at the legendary Barum Czech Rally in Zlín, and looked up to this team. I never thought that one day I would be able to become part of it, but I wanted it so much.

After graduating I moved to the other end of our country – 400 km away from home – to Mladá Boleslav. I started studying at SKODA AUTO University – Quality and Logistics – and in the second semester of my studies, I fulfilled my dream and started working in the department of racing car technique – suspension group – at ŠKODA Motorsport. Here I helped for about 2.5 years as a trainee. I wrote my bachelor thesis on the topic ‘Entry quality control and sampling underbody parts process analysis in the Skoda Motorsport department.’ From there, I started to cooperate more with the Quality Department. For my own career growth, I decided to leave my old department and started working full-time at the Quality department. Now I check the bodyshell, especially the safety roll cage and I do a final inspection of the car before the sale and solve some quality problems during construction. I spend a lot of time in the workshop with cars and mechanics, so for sure – it is a dream job for me!

Which has been your favourite rally to compete in so far?

I never drove at an official competition like a driver has, but I had the opportunity to compete at the end of the season  show in Sosnová near Mladá Boleslav with Martin Rohlena with Škoda 130LR as a co-driver. I am in contact with Martin mainly because I also build my own car for amateur races, and he is always very willing to advise me on anything.

You know, I am not interested in being a co-driver, I am attracted to driving some cars and learning, but unfortunately there is no time for that now. I have to finish school first, then I can be in the workshop every weekend and start preparing my racecar. This year I graduated at SKODA Auto University, getting my bachelor degree, while at the same time, I finished the retraining course of car mechanics. So two schools and working full time is quite time consuming! Now I continue to study the engineering degree of education.

I have very nice memories from the tests my brother did. My brother started last year after a long pause on the Ford Fiesta Rally2 from Orsák Rallysport team with the talented Czech racer Erik Cais, who is also participating in the WRC with this car this year. And with this cas it was such an amazing ride, I have very nice memories from the test before the race. Then my brother took 5th place after a long break, so it was nice to see that it is not forgotten.

How was it to experience Rally Spain?

It was 2019, my first year at SKODA Motorsport and I got a job opportunity to go with the team to the World Rally Championship to Spain. Sure, it was crazy! At the age of 20, I had the opportunity to go to Spain with the Skoda Motorsport team! It was great to be part of a team and spend some time in the service background with the extremely talented Kalle Rovanpera and Honza Kopecký, who were ŠKODA Motorsport factory drivers that year and who drove the new Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo.

The first day didn’t look well on the gravel stage. Both Jan and Kalle had some trouble, but at night, mechanics worked hard to prepare both cars for the following day and to find the best setup. Next day on the tarmac was amazing. Kalle and Jonne won several stages, as well as Jan and his new co-driver Jan Hloušek. By the end of the day, Kalle was just 9.8 seconds behind Ostberg and Jan behind him. I really enjoyed it! But then Kalle made a spin and broke the suspension, so they lost the fight for the win. Kopecký moved to second position and Kalle to third, but still enough to secure the manufacturers championship title. It was an amazing year for me, because the following year we participated in the races only as support for customers, which is obviously a great decision, but unfortunately for me as a fan, very sad, but I can say that I made it through these great years with the factory team.

Do you have a favourite racing memory so far?

For sure I have lots of memories from rallying, but I have never been able to remember what happened when! I’m not a good storyteller. Anyway, at every race something happens, it is a lot of fun, and the time passes so quickly. Maybe it was funny when I fell asleep at the Sosnová show last year where I could try being a co-driver to Martin Rohlena and his Skoda 130LR. I do not know why Martin laughed, but I laughed that I probably could not be a co-driver and for sure I would be late for my wedding one day, for sure!

Recently, I was supporting my very good friend Veronika at amateur races, where she competed with the Škoda Favorit, which is also a historic car. I have to say that I laughed a lot there. When there is a great group of positive people, family and friends, every competition is worth mentioning.

Would you ever want to try a different type of motorsport?

You know, sometimes I go karting with people from ŠKODA Motorsport after work. I enjoy this time a lot. I improve by an awful lot every ride, so it is great to see the first and maybe the third ride in comparison. But I have never tried it competitively.

What I would still like to try is motocross. My cousin and friends often go to various tracks and to foreign countries, so I plan to try it out soon. What also attracts me is drifting. This year I met a very skillful friend Lenka. I had an opportunity to drive with her and I must admit it is also fun and I find it much safer than rallying.

From your Instagram, you go Skiing a lot, did you ever want to do this competitively?

Yes, I love skiing. Since childhood I have been doing a lot of sports activities and in alpine skiing I have been involved competitively. However, I competed only in the Czech Republic. I won some district competitions and I really enjoyed it until now. Now I try to train and do at least one race per season and remember the good old racing times. I am already a senior in this sport! Now, I want to train young children and my little niece  – who is only 8 –  who enjoys this sport very much and she is starting in it.

You were also in the Miss Czech Republic competition – how did this happen and what was that like?

I like to try new things and meet new people. I was at the casting in Zlín, from which I was shortlisted to Prague. It was nice to try this branch, walk on heels on the catwalk and show off different outfits, try the role of a model, have your hair and makeup done. It is nice to try these feminine things when I am only spending time with cars. What I liked the most was the adrenaline and little time for changing from one outfit to another before I went out on the show. Often there was no time at all, a bit like in motorsport!

What’s your favourite film?

I like the first films from the Fast and Furious series, but I do not like the exaggerated sci-fi scenes in the movies, so I did not like the last ones so much. But a beautiful movie is Le Mans 66.

Would you rather have a dinosaur or a dragon as a pet?

Okay, this is a very interesting question, but what first came to my mind is that a dinosaur is a large, massive animal that cannot move fast. If we take into consideration that a dragon can fly, then definitely a dragon. Dragon has the freedom and will certainly have more adrenaline in its life.

If you could transform into anything else – animal or thing – what would you choose?

My fantasy is not what it used to be, but when I think about it, I probably want to be a bird. It has the freedom and can fly wherever it wants and of course because of the adrenaline. The paradox is that I’m quite afraid of heights but being free as a bird could be nice.

Thanks again to Karolina for taking the time to chat and we wish her the best of luck for her motorsport career moving forwards.

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