After Ken Block‘s Hoonigan Racing Division announced they were pulling out of World Rallycross last year, many fans were left wondering about Andreas Bakkerud‘s future in the sport. But the Norweigan maintains he was never in any doubt about his place in the championship.
Earlier this year, it was announced that Bakkerud would be joining Mattias Ekstrom‘s EKS Audi Sport team for the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Season. Talks began between the team and driver just a few days after Hoonigan announced their withdrawal from the sport.
Bakkerud had been with Block’s team for two years and had come third in the championship with the outfit in 2016. There were no wins in 2017 for the team, with Bakkerud’s two best results being a second in his home race in Norway and Sweden.
The Checkered Flag caught up with the popular driver at the World RX Media Launch last week at the new Silverstone circuit ahead of his first season with EKS:
You said in the press conference that you didn’t have any doubt (about your future in World RX) after Hoonigan announced they were pulling out from the sport, but what was your initial reaction after you learnt that they were withdrawing from World RX?
“At first, my initial feeling was that it was sad and emotional. Working with Ken and Hoonigan racing… it became a big family for me, I learnt a lot, and I had a big responsibility within the team. I’ve been with Ford for four years, so yeah, it was a sad end.
“But, when one door closes another one opens. Three days after I found out about it (Hoonigan leaving) in Estoring on the Sunday evening, my kind of manager, Jan Torre, went to Sweden to speak with Klaus, who is the CEO of EKS. I felt like this is the team I want to be in and luckily I got an opportunity and I’m very proud today to be stood here talking to you, wearing the EKS logo on my suit!
“It’s completely different, a new group of people that I’m very much looking forward to understanding and know and I think it’s going to be very interesting to see where we are in the first race in Barcelona.”
What’s the team dynamic like – is there a difference in the mentality and how you go about things?
“Well, I think, the technical understandings of a car, Mattias Ekstrom is an expert, and he has so much racing background – his toolbox will never be empty! I have huge respect for him, a quick driver and we’re going to have a lot of fun.
“It’s different from Ken and Hoonigan, but they were good in some parts and EKS will be good in other parts, so it’s going to be interesting to get to understand more, especially once the season starts.”
What do you think you’re going to have to do to beat Mattias? Like you said (in the press conference), he doesn’t make mistakes, so is it going to be consistency or are you just going to have to go for it?
“I don’t really know how to answer this question, because he is extremely good, and I know if I can beat him then I am also extremely good! I just need to learn and make my way, and I believe in the work I have done over many years I’ve been in rallycross and motorsport in general.
“So if I can tidy it up and make everything as good as I can do, then I can be doing well. I think this is the reason why he wanted me to be his driver because I have done well in the past and I think I sure have a good chance of doing it now also.”