BAKKERUD WINS IN SWEDEN
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.
Ekstrom’s team-mate Topi Heikkinen finished seventh in Sweden after a strong outing in the team’s second car. EKS continue to lead the teams’ standings at the championship’s half-way point – 32 points ahead of Team Peugeot-Hansen which is second.
Sweden’s Robin Larsson finished eighth in his privately run Audi S1, and ninth place was taken by Latvia’s Janis Baumanis – who demonstrated good pace in his World RX Team Austria prepared Ford Fiesta. Rounding out the top 10 was Russia’s Timur Timerzyanov who drove a similar car.
In the FIA European Rallycross Championship – where Sweden marked the third round of the year – it was a dream weekend for Kevin Hansen who triumphed in front of an elated home crowd despite suffering from a cold and sickness bug. Hansen’s win now sees the 18-year-old extend his lead over Tord Linnerud in the Euro RX standings by 23 points. Fredrik Salsten and Tommy Rustad finished second and third.
In the third round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship for TouringCars Norway’s Ben-Philip Gundersen triumphed in his Ford Fiesta. Sweden’s Magda Andersson and Norway’s Petter Brauten finished second and third respectively. Gundersen’s win this weekend has catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard, 11 points ahead of Andersson.
Denmark’s Ulrik Linnemann won the Super1600 category at the wheel of his Peugeot 208. The runner-up place was taken by Espen Isaksaetre and Ondrej Smetana was third. In the overall standings, Linnemann leads – one point ahead of Hungary’s Krisztian Szabo.
In the fifth round of the RX Lites Cup, it was Sweden’s Simon Olofsson who took the overall win on home soil. Frenchman Cyril Raymond clinched the runner-up spot while Sweden’s Johan Larsson took the third podium spot. Thomas Bryntesson, who won the previous RX Lites round in Norway, was fourth – the Norwegian denied a spot on the podium due to his double joker penalty after jumping the start during the final. In the overall RX Lites standings, Raymond leads Bryntesson by two points.
World RX Managing Director for IMG, Paul Bellamy, concluded: “Once again Holjes has delivered a magic weekend with a record-breaking 111 entries and 44,400 spectators throughout the weekend. In today’s final we saw four Swedes fighting for the win on home soil and four different manufacturers on the start grid. Congratulations to Andreas who has produced his second win on the bounce – once again Hoonigan Racing Division has done a sterling job in building a car which is not just fast, but also reliable. Well done also to Team Peugeot-Hansen who has secured its first double podium of the season. Now we’ve reached the season’s half-way point, only five points separate Mattias and Petter in the overall standings and the fight for the 2016 championship title remains wide open. The teams can now enjoy a well-deserved break before we embark on our first non-European adventure at the start of August.”
Round seven of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy will take place at Trois-Rivieres in Canada in just over a month (6-7 August).
Full results from Volkswagen Rallycross of Sweden can be found on the following link: http://www.fiaworldrallycross.com/result/swe/2016
Championship standings can be found at: www.fiaworldrallycross.com/standings
Copyright-free pictures for media purposes can be found here: www.fiaworldrallycross.com/media
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