Andreas Bakkerud took his first victory in the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship as he won the penultimate round of the series in Italy this weekend.
The Ford OMSE driver, who took two victories in 2014, finished ahead of Volkswagen Team Sweden driver Johan Kristoffersson and 2015 Drivers Championship leader Petter Solberg in difficult conditions which saw a few drivers caught out by the differing grip levels.
During a weekend that saw rival Team Peugeot-Hansen secure the Teams Championship Title, Bakkerud maintained a constant prescence inside the crucial top twelve positions to qualify for the Semi-Finals. After taking victory in Semi-Final two, the young Norwegian made a cracking start in the Final and was never headed to the line. Bakkerud was overjoyed to take his win:
“It is such a big relief to win today – and it means so much to take a victory in front of all of my fans who have come along to support me this weekend,” explained Bakkerud.
“Last week I finished first in the RX150 buggies at Croft at the British RX Championship and now I take a win in Italy, I could definitely get used to being on the podium. The rain has made today’s conditions really hard but I kept pushing, and tried to keep it as clean as possible. We had some unfortunate results over the summer but the team never gave up – they have worked so hard. I want to thank all my fans that are here this weekend and a big thanks to Ford Olsbergs MSE – without them this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Johan Kristoffersson showed more improved speed from his VW Polo as he finished Day One as joint overnight leader with Solberg. The Swedish driver followed this up by going second fastest in heat three and securing his place in the Semi’s. After taking victory in the first Semi-Final, Kristoffersson followed Bakkerud during the Final and despite taking his joker on lap five, he was unable to take a victory he thought was possible:
“I’m really pleased with second, but for sure, I would have liked to have won today. I’ve been on the podium for the last three events – the car has been working fantastic so hopefully we can continue our recent run of form for the final round next month,” explained the Swede.
For Petter Solberg, the chance of securing his second straight WorldRX title was the furthest thought from his mind. Having gone quickest in heat two, the 2014 Champion followed this up by quickest in heat four. This allowed him through to the Semi-Finals despite taking two joker laps in his heat three race after a jump start. After finishing second behind Kristoffersson in the Semi-Finals, the SDRX driver brought his Citroen DS3 home in third.
Completing the Final were EKSRX driver Anton Marklund, who showed a big improvement this weekend in the Audi S1 Quattro and finished fourth ahead of Manfred Stohl in his WorldRX Team Austria Fiesta, who recovered from a spectacular roll in Heat One to finish fifth in the Final. Timur Timerzyanov fell back after suffering a puncture from his joker lap and completed the top six.
The big news of the day came in Semi-Final two when Championship hopeful Timmy Hansen got too much wheelspin off the line and was eliminated at turn one after contact with Anton Marklund. The young swede had looked fast all weekend and along with Davy Jeanney, helped secure the Teams Championship for Team Peugeot-Hansen despite retiring from the race.
Three other titles were also decided over the weekend. Tommy Rustad secured the 2015 FIA European Rallycross Championship in his HTB Racing/Marklund Motorsport VW Polo ahead of title rival Jerome Grosset-Janin in his Albatec Racing Peugeot 208. Kevin Hansen won the 2015 RX Lites Championship to confirm his place in a Supercar in Argentina next month as his prize whilst Janis Baumanis was crowned as FIA European Super1600 Rallycross Champion.
FIA President Jean Todt payed a visit to the WorldRX event and was left impressed with how the series was growing:
“It is a pleasure for me to attend the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Franciacorta. It is a series that I have supported for some time and which I was very keen to see become an FIA World Championship. There is certainly no shortage of excitement – the fans get to see a lot of races in quick succession, while the grids are very strong and diverse. I look forward to seeing this Championship continue its growth under the guidance of the promoter IMG which is doing a great job and offering a fantastic package to competitors and spectators.”
The FIA World Rallycross Championship will have its final round of the year in Argentina at the end of November.