Jānis Baumanis will return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship package in the Euro RX1 series at Höljes next weekend (20-22 August), after joining forces with ESMotorsport to pilot the team’s Škoda Fabia.
Baumanis has been a familiar name on the international rallycross scene since 2014, when he contested the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s Super1600 (now Euro RX3) category, claiming three wins in a SET Promotion Renault Twingo on his way to third in the drivers’ classification.
The following year, he added two more victories and the Super1600 title to his rapidly growing résumé, while simultaneously making his debut at Supercar (now Euro RX1) level in Norway, in a Peugeot 208 running under the Hansen Talent Development banner – impressively reaching the rostrum at the first time of asking.
Sporadic World Championship outings the same season were highlighted by a fourth-place finish in the last round in Argentina, behind the wheel of a World RX Team Austria Ford Fiesta.
Baumanis remained with the squad in 2016, regularly progressing through to the semi-final stage and advancing to his second career final in Barcelona en route to a top ten championship ranking. He continued to score consistently over the subsequent two campaigns with STARD, before breaking through in 2019 as he ascended the podium in both Norway and Canada – going on to clinch sixth spot in the end-of-season standings.
Following a year’s absence – barring a one-off appearance as the first Latvian driver to participate in Projekt E on home soil in Riga last September – the 29-year-old will rejoin the fray in Sweden in just a week’s time in place of Ramunas Capkauskas, and he is immediately setting his expectations high.
“I’m very happy to be back on the grid,” Baumanis acknowledged. “It’s been a while since I last competed in a rallycross event and it will be nice to see some old faces again and catch up with good friends. I’ve been in the World RX family since the beginning back in 2014, so last year felt very odd for me.
“It’s brilliant to be starting the season at Höljes, because racing there is always special. Normally there are around 50,000 spectators cheering us on and the emotion they generate is amazing, and whilst numbers are limited this year, there will still be great competition in Euro RX1, which looks stronger than ever with a lot of very good names in the field, some of whom have shown their speed in the World Championship too.
“The other circuits coming up are also amongst the best rallycross tracks in the world and I’ve scored quite good results at all of them in the past. My goal is to reach at least the final in every event and to fight for the title. That clearly won’t be easy, but I will do everything in my power and I know ESMotorsport will give me the tools to do the job.”
“We are very pleased to have Jānis as our dedicated driver, having raced since 2014 in all rallycross categories and reached the podium on multiple occasions,” added Robertas Maneikis, Team Manager of ESMotorsport, which achieved a brace of top four finishes with Kevin Abbring in World RX in 2019.
“Not only will we do our best to compete at the top level with our fellow competitors in Euro RX1 this season, but Jānis is the driver we expect to be working with longer-term. He has considerable experience of electric technology from driving the Projekt E car, and he brings feedback that will be essential to our development plans for next year’s transition into RX1e.”