Three years ago Andreas Bakkerud screeched across the Höljes finish line to take his first ever Supercar victory in rallycross. It was his first repping the M-claw, his first in the then European Supercar championship, and marked a huge step forward in his race career. Hold that thought; and flash forward to present day.
With his foot to the floor, and handful of hydro, Andreas flicked his Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Focus RS RX sideways into the final corner at Höljes, once again boosting to a huge landmark win in Sweden. While plenty of podiums have gone the way of the 24-year-old Norwegian since then, his win at the 2016 World RX of Sweden draws some incredible parallels between his 2013 success.
This time round he beat the odds by leading nine time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb in second, and Timmy Hansen in third, in the six lap main final. What’s more he did it off the back of a historic domination of World RX Norway, and using a car, which until six months ago, only existed on an engineer’s computer. Combined with his historic maximum score in Hell, Andreas now climbs up to third in the drivers’ standings, just 27 points behind fellow countryman and Monster Energy athlete Petter Solberg.
I’m so incredibly stoked to win this event – it hasn’t really sunk in to be honest. This is a massive result for everyone in the team,” Andreas told us. “If someone had told me three weeks ago that I would be sitting here having won Hell [Norway] and Höljes [Sweden] I would say they were joking.
“I had a really close battle with Sebastien in the semi-final. Inside my Ford Focus RSRX I have a pretty big rear view mirror, and it was full of nine-time rally champion for a lot of the race! I just kept calm and tried to push as much as possible. The final was very tough too, even for set up; it’s been wet-dry-wet-dry all weekend, so the finals were the first time we’ve had consistent conditions on track. I was a little slower than I wanted to be on reaction time at the start lights, so my spotter and I chose to joker early and then focus on chasing down Timmy and Sebastien. I remembered what happened between Timmy and Mattias Ekström last year at the final corner, so I defended to the maximum at the finish.
“I’ve said it before, but this really is a massive result for the team, they surprise me everytime with how calm and collected they are under pressure. Everyone has put in so much work, I’m so proud to be a part of this, and to be a part of Hoonigan Racing Division with Ken Block, Derek Dauncy, and all the team.”
For Ken Block, his first ever visit to the legendary Höljes track proved a little more tricky. Despite struggling for grip in the torrential conditions on Saturday, the Head Hoonigan in Charge scored two third place finishes in his races for Q1 and Q2, and an overall position of 14th in the overnight standings. Ramping up the pressure on day two, Ken scored another brace of solid finishes to grab 13th in the intermediate standings. Unfortunately that meant he just missed out on the cut for the main finals by a mere eight points, behind eventual fourth place finisher Anton Marklund.
Reigning World Champion Petter Solberg also gritted through a tough time at the third edition of the World RX of Sweden. After battling back to an impressive third position following a DNF in Q1 on Saturday, Petter put in a sensational drive to win Q3. Q4 yielded a further third position in the overall standings, locking in a pole position start in semi final one. Unfortunately a long hold on the line, heating up the car, and a technical problem once the race began; which left him unable to select third gear, meant Petter finished fourth and also outside of the cut for the main final. It wasn’t all tough news though. After all the points for the weekend were tallied, the gap of five points between Petter and title rival Mattias Ekström – who finished sixth – remains unchanged, and moves the to round seven.
Riding out a tough weekend, in the dust of his huge roll-over wreck in Norway was Liam Doran. Squeezing every ounce of performance out of his JRM Racing Mini RX, Liam pushed through to 12th in the overnight standings on day one. However following a run of unlucky results in Q3 & Q4 – 15th and 18th – the 28 year old former X-Games winner was forced to watch the finals from the side lines.
Next up is the World RX of Canada on the 6th and 7th of August. In the meantime, don’t forget to lock in the Gymkhana GRiD finals into your diary – where Ken, Andreas, Petter and Liam will be appearing, and also watch out for our athletes at the infamous Gatebil Rudskogen in Norway next weekend.
Full result from the World RX of Sweden is available HERE!
Petter Solberg – 7th:
“It’s fair to say this hasn’t been the best weekend for us. Maybe we got out of jail a little bit here, with the points difference staying the same. I felt that we had the speed to win, and everything seemed very, very bright after the qualifying heats. But in the semi-final I came out behind (Johan) Kristoffersson and got stuck while the others came from behind (the joker lap) and gained time on us all the way. The good thing is that, once again, we showed we had the speed to fight at the front, but the weekend has been a challenging one for us. The racing was good for the guys in the final and another win for Andreas [Bakkerud] is good for him. I’m happy for [Sébastien] Loeb as well and for Timmy [Hansen] also on the podium. But you know me, I’m a fighter and I always want to be in the final and trying to take points. It hurts when we don’t get there. I’m very disappointed, but I’m also kind of relieved! Now we have some time before Canada and we will work again on the strategy. For sure, the second half of the season looks very bright and very, very exciting for PSRX.”
Ken Block – 13th:
“This track is one of the best circuits I’ve ever driven on, and might even be one of the best for rallycross, so I was very happy to be here, compete on it, and even be fourth fastest on Friday night after only eight laps of practice. That set me up to hope for a really good weekend to be honest, but unfortunately a few issues with set-up and the changing conditions prevented me from having a good weekend. As a team we put in a big effort, but while luck went bad for me personally, Andreas had an awesome result. I was just very frustrated that I wasn’t able to get the good race laps in that I really wanted. I proved that I’ve got the speed, but just didn’t manage to convert it into my qualification races. Congratulation to Andreas and the entire team for getting the win, it’s a huge result, and shows we have what it takes!”
Liam Doran – 16th:
“I’m gutted that we didn't make it through to the semi finals – especially after things started so positively yesterday. I really wanted to bounce back and put on a good show for the team and the fans. Coming to Sweden is always one of my favourite weekends of the season, and I really thought we had the speed to get in the mix, but it just didn’t happen. There’s a lot of work to do before Canada – and we’ve had a difficult few races recently – so we are all going to put our heads together to work out where we can improve for the next event. There’s no reason why we can’t repeat what we did in Portugal and Hockenheim and land ourselves a spot on a semi final grid.”