Andreas Bakkerud heads in to his third season of FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy with a new challenge ahead of him and also his best chance yet to take the championship title as he teams up with Hoonigan Racing‘s Ken Block with a Ford Performance-backed entry.
An all-new Ford Focus RS RX has been developed by Ford Performance and M-Sport especially for the season ahead, we caught up with the Norwegian ahead of this weekends opening round in Portugal and asked him about his first impressions of the new car, “I’m very impressed by the push from the engine, the traction and how stable the car was when braking hard into a corner.” said Bakkerud.
Since the announcement that Bakkerud would be joining Block for the season ahead he has been busy integrating himself as a Hoonigan, “It’s been a lot of fun yes. I’ve gotten to see how hard Ken and his team work and all the ‘behind the scenes’ of everything. I’m impressed. So far it has been a good time, it’s fun mixed with serious work. I think we’ll show that on track this year.”
Looking ahead to the season, Bakkerud spoke about the tracks he is most looking forward to visiting this year, “I will say Sweden (Høljes) and Latvia. Sweden because I love the track and Latvia because it’s a new track and a new venue. I know the guys that work with my old team-mate from last year (Reinis Nitiss) and they will put in the work to make it a hell of a race!”
And on his biggest competitors this year? “For sure the champ himself Petter Solberg. Alongside him you have drivers like Timmy Hansen and Sebastian Loeb. The thing is that the whole field is so competitive so everyone has a car that can win races.”
A recent trip to America saw Bakkerud get his hands on the the Gymkhana Escort, “The Escort is my all time favourite car!” exclaimed Bakkerud. “It’s so much fun, has so much squat and has so much history! My father was driving a Mk2 Escort in rallycross back in the old days, and I still remember the sound. I will buy a car like that, one day…”
The beginning of April also saw an interesting opportunity for the Norwegian to get a taste or rally history when he visited Enda Garvey‘s collection of cars in Northern Island with Block. “That was a mega trip! I’ve been watching rallycross for my entire life and remember the RS200 as a real beast! Martin Schanche´s RS200 is one of my favourite cars ever! I remember also the year Martin won with Tommy Rustad to become second in the ERC Norway back in 1992.”
The 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy gets under way in two days time as the series heads to Portugal, theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will be bringing you full coverage of the season with exclusive interviews and behind the scenes news.