Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud has won this weekend’s Volkswagen Rallycross of Sweden, round six of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. Is it the second event in a row that Bakkerud has won in his Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Focus RS Supercar and the result has elevated 24-year- old Bakkerud to third in the overall driver standings. Team Peugeot-Hansen team-mates Sebastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen finished second and third respectively in a pair of Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars.
Incessant rain during Q1 and Q2 created tricky driving conditions on day one and by the end of Q4, there were four different qualifying winners [Sebastien Loeb, Johan Kristoffersson, Petter Solberg and Andreas Bakkerud] – but it was Volkswagen RX Sweden’s Kristoffersson who topped the Intermediate Classification and scooped the maximum 16 points available. Kristoffersson’s luck ran out during the final, however, when the Swede suffered a puncture and eventually finished the event fifth overall. Kristoffersson’s team-mate Anton Marklund had a strong outing in the team’s second VW Polo RX Supercar, finishing fourth despite being slowed by a technical issue.
Holjes RX winner Bakkerud commented: “If someone had told me a couple of months ago that I would win Norway and Sweden, I would have told them they were mad! Inside my Ford Focus RS Supercar, I have a really big mirror and all I could see was a nine-time World Champion [Sebastien Loeb] behind me – I couldn’t relax. Even on the last lap, I kept thinking about what happened with Timmy [Hansen] and Mattias [Ekstrom] last year and I absolutely wasn’t going to let that happen again. I want to say a big thank you to my team – the conditions throughout the weekend were extremely difficult with it being wet one minute and dry the next. I trusted the guys with the different car set-ups and they didn’t let me down.”
Sebastien Loeb was on course for third place but when the handbrake on Timmy Hansen’s car broke on the final corner, the Frenchman passed his team-mate to take the runner-up spot. “The car and equipment has worked very well this weekend and I had a great battle with Andreas in the final,” explained Loeb at the end-of- event press conference. Loeb added: “It’s been a weekend of ups and downs – we made a mistake in Q2 and have had some punctures so it’s not been easy but for sure it’s good for Team Peugeot-Hansen to have two drivers in the top three. It now makes sense why they called Sweden the magic weekend – it has a great atmosphere, the track is nice and very demanding. I still have a lot of learn in rallycross but I’m getting there and I’m really looking forward to the next few races.”
Third-placed Hansen was awarded the Monster Energy Super Charge Award for beating the other finalists to the first corner during today’s final. “I actually dislocated my shoulder in the second or third lap but it didn’t stop me pushing,” explained the 22-year- old Swede. “Myself and Andreas have been fighting in Holjes for the past few years and it’s very difficult to overtake on this track but I gave it everything. Andreas definitely had a better joker lap and sadly I couldn’t catch him on the final lap and then my handbrake broke on the final corner – the rear wheels locked and I couldn’t get to the finish line quick enough before Sebastien past me.”
Championship leader Mattias Ekstrom retired from today’s final following a technical problem with his Audi S1 EKS RX quattro which meant he was only able to complete three laps. Ekstrom, who has won in Holjes for the past two years, took up the story: “We had to fight a lot from the beginning: in Q1, the e-throttle broke and there was no throttle after two laps. We fought back, but when we were halfway through the same problem popped up again. This is quite strange, because we have never had problems with this part before. Anyway, congratulations to Andreas – he did a good job here and deserves the victory.”
Despite Ekstrom’s difficult weekend, the EKS driver finished this weekend sixth overall, one spot ahead of last year’s World RX Champion Petter Solberg who failed to make the final for the first time this season. In the overall driver standings, Ekstrom continues to top the table – five points ahead of Solberg who is second.
Standings Rallycross of Sweden:
1. Andreas Bakkerud
2. Sébastien Loeb
3. Timmy Hansen
4. Anton Marklund
5. Johan Kristoffersson
6. Mattias Ekström
Standings FIA World Rallycross Championship 2016 (R.6)
1. Mattias Ekström 142 pts
2. Petter Solberg 137 pts
3. Andreas Bakkerud 110 pts
4. Sébastien Loeb 106 pts
5. Johan Kiristoffersson 106 pts
6. Timmy Hansen 86 pts
7. Toomas Heikkinen 82 pts
8. Robin Larsson 61 pts