“I think Fredrik was five years old when he said, ‘I’m going to be a world rally champion’,” recalls Susanne Kottulinsky, Fredrik’s mother, herself a former rally driver and navigator. “Fredrik was a very lively child. He started walking at nine months, and as soon as he could grab hold of something, it was a car,” adds Susanne, and continues: “His first races were in the living room, where he would speed around the fireplace in a pedal car,” laughs Susanne. “I even had the striped tape to mark off spectator areas, and I would put it up all over the living room,” Fredrik says.
“His first vehicle with a real engine was actually a 50 cc motorcycle,” says Susanne. “He was about five and, to be honest, he was really too small for motocross. I remember one day he was showing off in front of the older boys, who were egging him on, of course, when he crashed really badly on one jump. He was covered in bruises, so when I brought him home I told my husband Jerry I didn’t want our son riding around on two wheels. Four wheels are safer,” explains Susanne.
Talking of Susanne’s husband Jerry... Yes, it’s Jerry Åhlin, another legendary Swedish rally driver. Motorsport history is particularly strong in this family, as it encompasses not only Fredrik’s parents, but also his grandfather. Who might that be? None other than Freddy Kottulinsky, winner of the iconic 1980 Dakar Rally. “The funny thing is that my father was not meant to be racing, but was basically just asked to drive the support car. However, after he won the first stage, the guys he was there to help were actually behind him,” laughs Susanne. Freddy also set up the driver training system now known as the Audi Experience, where both Susanne and Jerry still teach people how to improve their driving.