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Day 2 at World RX, Barcelona
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World RX: Bakkerud blasts to the podium in Barcelona

Apr 022017

Missed tyre smoke and launch control? Then don’t sweat it. The season opening round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy burst into life this weekend, amidst a haze of dirt and smashed carbon-fiber at the legendary Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya.

Andreas Bakkerud opened the 2017 season in awesome style, grabbing a hard fought third placed podium in the event’s grand final just behind the ex-DTM duo of Mattias Ekström and Timo Scheider.

Bakkerud’s podium was made all the more impressive considering the 25 year-old Norwegian fought back from – in his own words – one of the hardest crashes of his career during the thunderstorms of Saturday’s Q2. Running around the outside at the start, Bakkerud was battling for the lead and lost the rear of his car on the greasy side of the track. The resulting slide put him into the wall and heavily damaged his Ford Focus RSRX. Overnight the Hoonigan Racing Division mechanics went into overdrive to fix Bakkerud’s ride for Q3 and Q4, and the rest as they say is history. Bakkerud put in stunning drives to win Q4 and qualify on the front row of semi final two; prior to grabbing a haul of silverware at the final race of the event.

 

The M-Claw factory-backed assault didn’t end with Ford’s blue oval though. Petter Solberg and Johan Kristoffersson came armed with weapons-grade Polo GTI Supercars courtesy of the newly formed PSRX Volkswagen World RX Team Sweden.

“For a first race weekend of 2017 it’s been a proper fight back! I’m glad to put the crash in Q2 behind me – the conditions were super slippery and the impact was the hardest I’ve had in my career so far! I really enjoyed the battle with Matthias in the semi, and then qualifying through to the final was a great feeling. Getting a podium this early on means a lot for everyone – you work so hard to develop the car over the winter, the team have put in huge hours; and to get this result is really payoff and is confirmation that the effort was in the right direction and we have the pace. Now it’s the small details we have to work on to get to the top step. Fighting with the two DTM-boys [Ekström and Scheider] I was really the best of the rest. Being beaten by two tarmac circuit racers at the Spanish home of F1 and MotoGP is not so bad. It’s fantastic to see the sport continue to grow and have drivers from different disciplines come and be successful. I think rallycross is motorsport’s answer to MMA – it doesn’t matter if you come from track driving, rallying, or drifting – if you are fast you will be able to perform well in rallycross. I’ll be back when we go to Portugal in the mountain mud at the next round – the tarmac boys will have to watch out!”

 

“I am so, so proud of what we have all achieved here. The last few months have been really crazy. Like really crazy getting everything sorted out. But we are here and we are racing. We hoped to be on the pace and we hoped to show ourselves in a good light. It was a dream for us to have two cars in the final today and the dream came true. I’m so happy with the performance and couldn't be happier with the team and for Johan, he showed such strong pace – he was the star driver for me. Like I’ve said before, we started this project very late compared to a lot of teams but we have incredible support and experience from VW and my guys in PSRX. We are taking a very different philosophy to our car builds compared to other teams too. Even though we didn’t get to the podium, we are now leading the teams’ championship and Johan broke the lap record. Not a bad start!"

 

“The team has put so much work in and everything is working so well from the first race. Naturally, I was a little disappointed with the final, I so wanted this result for the whole PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team – but this is racing. The big thing is the pace we have from the car. It just makes me more determined do even better for the team at the second round.”

 

 

“It's been a really positive weekend. I'm stoked to be out here in Barcelona again feeling more comfortable in the car – it’s a pretty big difference from the last time we visited this track last season. Andreas really came through for us again too with a podium result. Obviously the weather yesterday was a real challenge and I think it's fair to say that most of us would have preferred two days of sunshine. Our car is great though - and that's a testament to all the work everyone from our team has put in over the winter. We were fast in practice and I won my very first race in Q1. I made it through to the semi finals – qualifying on row three for the first semi – and I think if I hadn’t got caught behind Heikkinen when he broke down, I could have been fighting with Petter for a potential spot in the finals. That’s racing though – the main thing to take away is that we now have the car to compete properly and can carry momentum through to the next races. I’m definitely looking forward to this season more already.”

 

 

“It was a tough weekend for sure, but there are many positives to take from here in Barcelona. I really enjoy how the Clio drives now, and I feel a lot more confident in the car and the feedback it gives me. Unfortunately we had a big problem with the gearbox and I couldn’t start Q4 or go any further in the weekend. I’m already looking forward to racing again in Hockenheim though, and I’m super excited how plans are progressing for my full-time season in 2018.”

 

 

Full results from the World RX of Spain are available, here.

 

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