Andreas Bakkerud returns to World Championship package for World RX of Sweden
Norwegian joins forces with Lithuanian outfit ESMotorsport in Euro RX1
‘To sit at home this weekend simply wasn’t an option’, explains 29-year-old
Andreas Bakkerud says that having to watch this weekend’s FIA World Rallycross Championship event at Höljes in Sweden (20-22 August) from his sofa ‘would have been unthinkable’. Thankfully, he won’t have to, after inking an 11th-hour deal to join the grid in the Euro RX1 category with ESMotorsport.
Bakkerud is one of the biggest names in international motorsport. Two times an FIA European Rallycross Champion at Super1600 (now Euro RX3) level, since stepping up to the World Championship stage in 2014, the Norwegian has triumphed on seven occasions and finished inside the top three in the title standings in 2016, 2018 and 2019 – in the last of those seasons, tying on points with eventual champion Timmy Hansen.
The 29-year-old looked destined to sit the 2021 campaign out after struggling to put the budget together, but when the opportunity presented itself to pilot ESMotorsport’s second Škoda Fabia at Höljes alongside fellow World RX podium-finisher Jānis Baumanis – taking the place of Hungary’s ‘Luigi’, who has withdrawn from the event – he explains that he did not need to think too hard...
“Having to watch one more race weekend from the sofa would just have been unthinkable,” Bakkerud revealed, “and especially Höljes – my stomach wouldn’t have stood for that! I really enjoyed the new RX+ broadcast in Barcelona and all the on-board camera angles are really cool, but the bottom line is that I’m a racer and I want to be out there racing!
“I’m over the moon to be back on the grid, and this is such a special circuit for me. I went to school in Torsby when I was growing up, so I’m very familiar with the area around Höljes and it really feels like a home track.
“I’ve been competing there since 2009, with some amazing races and a lot of great memories – including my first Euro RX Supercar (now RX1) win in 2013 and a World Championship event win three years later – so to sit at home this weekend was simply not an option. There has been a huge amount of hard work behind-the-scenes with my partners and the team to get to this point, and now it’s time to enjoy it and go racing!
“My expectations are always high – whenever my name is on the entry list, I’m there to win – but I also need to be realistic given that I haven’t done many laps in the Fabia. Results come over time, so I can’t expect to go out there and be the fastest straightaway, but this is a great opportunity to get to know the team and car.
“Höljes is a one-off for now, but I’ve definitely got one eye on the future and I’ve always regarded ESMotorsport as a team with real potential in rallycross. Who knows, maybe I can be the driver who breaks the ice and steps onto the podium with them...”
Bakkerud’s past form at Höljes is certainly impressive, with five straight podium finishes there in World Championship competition from 2014 to 2018. ESMotorsport Team Manager Robertas Maneikis is hopeful that his new recruit will help to drive the Lithuanian outfit – which achieved a brace of top four finishes with Kevin Abbring in World RX in 2019 – to new heights.
“We’re delighted to welcome Andreas to the team for Höljes,” Maneikis acknowledged. “He is somebody that really doesn’t need any introduction – he has achieved so much in this sport, and every time he races, he puts his absolute heart and soul into it. He is unquestionably one of the most talented drivers of the current generation with a first-class attitude and approach, and we have no doubt that he will give the whole team a boost as we seek to establish ourselves on the Euro RX1 scene.
“With two drivers of the calibre of Andreas and Jānis [Baumanis] in our pair of Škoda Fabias in Sweden, we are confident of being amongst the front-runners from the outset. We’re excited to get to the track and do battle!”
All of the action from Höljes will be livestreamed in glorious HD quality via the cutting-edge new RX+ broadcast platform. This premium production will grant subscribers unparalleled and unprecedented access anytime, anywhere and on any device, offering a choice of viewing angles, in-depth expert analysis, special behind-the-scenes features and exclusive interviews.
The Full Season Pass is still on sale for the special launch price of €29,99, representing a 40% discount on the regular price of €49,99 and guaranteeing access until the end of the year. The Event Pass for Swecon World RX of Sweden is currently available for €4,79 (using promo code RXPLUS40), again representing a 40% saving on the regular price of €7,99. For more information or to subscribe, visit www.fiaworldrallycross.com