In between signings, meetings with Ford Performance engineers and ripping his Ford Focus RS RX around the famous Sachs Curve at Hockenheim, we caught up with Hoonigan Racing Division driver Andreas Bakkerud to grab his thoughts on returning to Hockenheim and marking his second year as a full pro-spec World RX Supercar driver.
Hey Andreas, how are you doing? How are you feeling today at the second day of racing here at the Hockenheim?
Hey! I feel good this morning! The schedule here in Hockenheim is a little unusual. Normally we start racing early on Saturdays, but this time I could get a little more rest, as the DTM is up first during the day. It’s been a tough weekend so far, but overall I’m enjoying it. It’s great to be back racing here in Germany for sure.
What do you like the most about competing at the Hockenheimring compared with other circuits? Is there a special atmosphere here?
Yes, there is a very special atmosphere here. The crowds are always really strong, and you can feel the support from the grandstands. I have a feeling too that German fans are very proud and enthusiastic of DTM and Porsche cup – and the Rallycross is a great addition to the action.
You know, as a child I raced around Hockenheim in video games. And it was one of my favourites! So for me to able to race a car at the Sachs Curve for real is pretty spectacular as it is one of the fastest corners in the World Rallycross Championship. Going full speed into the Sachs Curve, changing down to two gears, and then pulling the hand break is very exciting. The track is very cool for sure. It is hard to overtake, the start line is very slippery and in general it is a very good challenge for the championship.
What can you tell us about your rivalry with your Norwegian colleague Petter Solberg?
We need to remember that he is a bit older and more experienced than I am. But I admire his passion for racing and motorsport. Not many drivers can do what he has done; every winter working on sponsorship, and then every summer going flat out with the racing as a driver. He has many titles under his belt. I have huge respect for Solberg for sure.
What do you think is your strongest personal quality for helping you race?
Going for the gaps! I am strong in the battles, and strong in the start. I think things go up and down during every driver’s racing career. However I always try to stay positive. I love what I do, and I hope I have many years left in my career.
How does the decision making work during the race? Do you talk to your team before the race or make your own calls?
We always make a plan here in the team office before the race. But usually things end up changing and we go with Plan D or E, instead of the first idea! Rallycross is very intense ha-ha. On the track I am making my own decisions, but the Joker call comes from my spotter - David Mansfield.
You are also one of the youngest and also successful racers, what does the Rallycross means to you?
It is very cool! Solberg has won the most titles, then Ekström, and then me. So it means that I have done something right. I am only 25-years-old, and I have grown up in this paddock. I am here to win more titles!
How does it feel for you to be in a team with Ken Block? Are there any benefits or unique challenges?
Ken is a very talented athlete and businessman, and I’ve learnt a lot from him. When Ken called me it was a big moment in my career. From the contract perspective I’ve turned into a professional athlete. We’ve also become good friends, he’s taken me to Park City, and with him on vacation. He involves me in his life and what he is doing. It is nice to see something else besides racing.
Tell us a bit more about your YouTube channel? Why did you decided to Vlog?
I wanted to start my YouTube channel two years ago, but I wasn’t in the position to do it. Last year I signed a new contract with Hoonigan Racing Division. At that point I felt I needed to be 110% concentrated on my new team, and new car. But after the year settling into the team, I wanted to add to the challenge and show everyone what I was achieving. It is a lot of fun, and we get more and more views and positive feedback on what we are doing. We do things differently than Ken, however at the end of the day many people could think that I am Ken Block junior. Ken is Mr.Hoonigan himself, he is Mr Gymkhana! I am Andreas Bakkerud and that you can see in my YouTube channel #BakkerudLife.
While being in Germany, have you ever tried German traditional food? Do you have something you like a lot?
Every time I arrive to German airport, I pick up some Brezel. It’s a really tasty snack – definitely one of my favourites!
What do you do in the off-season?
Well I try to race even more! I am extremely passionate about all kind of motorsports. In the winter I did a lot of go karting and stage rally. It requires money; which means work and business meetings with potential sponsors. I work a lot to be in the car a lot! I think I work even more now as a professional athlete compared to when I was trying to get into a big team. Before I had nothing to loose, but now I have a contract and I want to keep it. Therefore I need to perform – whether that’s on track, or off track with Ken and the Hoonigan Racing Division partners. It’s all part of the challenge – and I love it.
If you didn’t make it to Hockenheim, make sure you tune into the live stream of round four of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, hosted at Mettet in Belgium, *here. In the meantime check out the exclusive on-board footage of Andreas lapping the World RX track at Hockenheim.