Saturday 6 July 2019

Bakkerud claims overnight TQ in dramatic opening day in Höljes.

Andreas Bakkerud holds the overnight top qualifiers spot at the World RX of Sweden after a dramatic Q1 session and mixed times from Q1 due to a drying track. 

"It's been a crazy weekend, already," said Bakkerud. "It is the race that everybody would love to win and we have seen mixed conditions and we have seen a result board changing a lot today."

"I went into Q1 with the mindset of I have much more to give," he said. "I did the practice and it felt very good but the lap times weren't there. We did some changes, especially with new tyres on and it helped a lot."

The Monster Energy RX Cartel driver got off to a strong start leading off the line in Q1 and went on to set the fastest time of the session. In behind Bakkerud, Marklund and Abbring spun off the track before turn one. 

Bakkerud's team-mate Doran hit the wall on the outside of the final corner in Q1 after braking steering wheel's universal joint.

Q1 saw a rather dramatic incident involving reigning European RX champion Reinis Nitiss rolling his GRX Set Hyundai i20 after hitting a kerb on the inside of turn one and rolled into the gravel trap on the outside of the track. The Stewards later reprimanded Janis Baumanis for pushing Nitiss and Timerzyanov. 

Championship leader Timmy Hansen ended Q1 well outside the top-12 after a puncture, while younger brother Kevin finished fourth in Q1.

The heavens opened at Höljes for Q2, and with the fastest drivers starting first and they would ultimately have to face the worst conditions as the track would dry through the session. 

Bakkerud led from the front in Q2 to set the initial pace, while Kevin Hansen ended Q2 in seventeenth despite finishing in second behind Bakkerud.

However, track conditions improved significantly through the session meaning the Bakkerud ended the session in twelfth overall. 

Marklund took a comfortable win in the third race of Q2, while Kevin Abbring beat Timmy Hansen to victory in the fourth race. Despite a good start in Q2 for Hansen, he was forced to take an early joker, then lost time in traffic on the opening lap. After passing Jonathan Pailler and Ulrik Linnemann, he pushed a bit too hard in the final corner and nearly spun losing a second to Abbring. 

The fightback of the day came from Nitiss who was 25th overall after Q1. The Latvian make a strong start in the drying conditions, and just about managed to fend off a flying Guerlain Chicherit to claim the fastest time in Q2 and climb up to fifth overall. 

"With Reinis [Nitiss] having a role in Q1 and winning Q2, all of a sudden he's up to fifth," Bakkerud said. "That is unbelievable, that is rallycross." 

Despite claiming the overnight top qualifiers spot, Andreas Bakkerud still thinks that Monster Energy RX Cartel needs to find more performance overnight.

"I still think we need to find more for tomorrow if it's going to be dry to be able to keep it up," he said. "We have had good starts, we are fast in the joker, we struggle a bit in a couple of sections but hopefully, we can look through the data and prepare even more for Q3 and 4. 

A surprised Marklund said he did not expect to be second overall after a bad result in the Q1.

"I think we weren't planning to be here after Q1, but it shows that if you never give up and keep on fighting, you can do it," the Swede said.

"For Q2, we were in this heat where it was going to change. I think we were three cars on slicks and two cars on rain tyres. I won my race on the dry tyres and Timo [Scheider] was P2 with the rain tyres, so we were really on the switch between the dry and wet."

"Even if I would do a mega job, the guys behind me would be quicker in the race four and five," he adds. "I was just trying to keep it cool and not do any mistakes at all and just bring the car to the finish line."

After claiming a podium finish in Silverstone, and momentarily winning the Norwegian round, Marklund believes that GCK is now showing the potential of their Renault Megane R.S. RX. 

"We are again showing that we have great potential in the car, in the team and me as a driver," he said. "What happened in Silverstone and Norway, where we were on the podium was not a coincidence, we have great pace. So, I hope that we can repeat that this weekend and I hope we can fight for another podium finish."

Dutchman Kevin Abbring finds positives after ending the day in third overall. 

"We had the fastest lap time of the day, fastest reaction time and both of those things are important," he said. "So, I think we can take a lot of positives from that. We know that the feeling in the dry is really good."

"Obviously, everyone steps up tomorrow. So, we need to be back even stronger than them." 

Abbring ended Q1 in nineteenth overall and made the leap to third overnight after winning Q2 race 5. Asked if his driving style aided in his fight back - the Dutchman said: "It worked but I was trying to set the boundaries to at least try to understand how the car would behave on the limit and if you are driving on the potential you aren't going to feel it, but I definitely enjoyed it."

The OVERNIGHT RESULTS at the World RX of Sweden.

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

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