Tuesday 17 December 2019

Exclusive Interview with Andreas Bakkerud on World RX, Subaru Motorsport and his ideal Rallycross track.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
Fast and popular – are words that one could use to describe Andreas Bakkerud.

Andreas Bakkerud is one of the most popular drivers in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. He has a strong presence on social media and uses his own YouTube channel “Bakkerud Life” to provide insights into his life in-and-around the world of Rallycross.

The Norwegian ranks among the world’s best rallycross drivers. He has contested all 81 rounds of the World RX championship, made it into the final on 48 occasions, claimed 30 podium finishes and six event wins. 

Bakkerud’s motorsport career started at the age of nine when he started karting but soon made the transition to rallycross at the tender age of 16. 

In 2009, he finished second in the Norwegian Championship. The same year in which he made the step up to the FIA European Rallycross in Division 1A, where he finished thirteenth overall. He returned to Division 1A in 2010 and finished third overall in the championship before stepping up to the Super1600 European Championship claiming back-to-back titles with the Set Promotion team in 2011 and 2012. 

In 2013, Bakkerud took the step up to the Supercars category in the 2013 FIA European Rallycross Championship with LD Motorsport, finishing fourth overall and claiming two event wins in Sweden and France.

2014 saw Bakkerud move to Olsbergs MSE for the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Championship, where he claimed wins in Great Britain and Turkey clinching fifth-place in the overall standings. 

The Norwegian was retained by Olsbergs MSE in 2015. He went on to win in Italy and claimed two podium finishes. Bakkerud switched to the Hoonigan Racing Division team in 2016. A match made in heaven? It could well be, as he claimed a hat-trick of wins on his way to third overall in the standings. 

Bakkerud was the first driver – and remains one of only three drivers – in World RX history to have claimed a clean sweep of victories winning all four qualifying sessions, the semi-final and final (at World RX of Norway in 2016). 

The 2017 season was a bit more challenging for the Hoonigan Racing Division team, but despite these challenges Bakkerud went on to add four podium finishes to his CV. Ford Motorsport later announced their withdrawal from the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the end of the 2017 season leaving the Norwegian without a seat. 

In 2018, Bakkerud joined Mattias Ekstrom’s Audi Sport-backed EKS RX team. He took five podiums, including a second-place in Great Britain, Sweden, and France, earning him third place in the championship. In August that year, Audi announced their decision to withdraw from the World RX championship, and Mattias Ekstrom later took the decision for EKSRX not to return in 2019. 

While the 2019 season seemed bleak after the withdrawal of Audi, Peugeot, Volkswagen, and Olsbergs MSE. Bakkerud would remain in the FIA World Rallycross Championship with Liam Doran as his teammate in Monster Energy RX Cartel in two hired EKS Audi S1 Quattro supercars. He went on to claim five podium finishes, 1 win in Canada and ended the season as Vice-Champion.

Andreas Bakkerud leading Timur Timerzyanov in the World RX of SA final.
PHOTO CREDIT: Junaid Samodien/Slipstream SA
Andreas Bakkerud was in high demand at the World RX season finale in Cape Town last month. We are very thankful that we were granted the opportunity to chat with him for a few minutes. 

Junaid Samodien: Where did it all begin for you? What got you interested in Rallycross or motorsport itself?

Andreas Bakkerud: It all started when I was growing up with my dad and uncle racing rallycross at the National level in Norway. So, I kind of grew up in the paddock – it’s kind of the same story as Timmy and Kevin [Hansen] who I am racing with now and Liam [Doran] as well. 

So, I took the steps from playing in the dirt with toy cars to karting when I was nine-years-old, and then I started rallycross when I was 16-years-old. I built my career stone-by-stone becoming European RX champion then joining Liam Doran for a few years in 2013 with his team in Supercars and from that moment on I kept ongoing. 

JS: What do you think was key to your improvement over the course of the season?

AB: I think it has something to do with the fact that we were a very new team. And, at the beginning of the year, we didn’t have any engineers. We were disorganized, but with a few races we were able to create a winning team and everybody had the same ideas. I think that was the key element to success. 

JS: What were the challenges you faced this season on-and-off the track?

AB: It’s been economical – hard to find a budget to go racing. As well as, running a team and driving at the same time. Basically, it’s the full story around being a race car driver and running a team. 

JS: Having competed in two Americas RX rounds this season. Do you think Subaru Motorsport could do well in World RX?

AB: I have driven the cars and I think they are impressive. There are a few things that I would have liked to change, but I think if they come over to the World Championship they would definitely be at the top or maybe even winning the championship. 

JS: What do you still want to achieve in your motorsport career? 

AB: Just surviving in motorsport – having motorsport as my job is my first dream, and to become World Champion is another dream of mine. I don’t have one big dream – I have many small dreams.

JS: Have you ever considered competing in any other motorsport series?

AB: I did a test in DTM last year and that was great fun. I would love to do that. I love rallying and also karting. I would like to do more karting.

JS: Take us behind the visor. What do you think about when you get into your car and you are moments away from a race? Do you have any superstitions before getting into your race car? 

AB: I have my routines, but that is just basic stuff. I always put on the right sock before the left. That is kind of my thing.  

JS: Will we see Andreas Bakkerud on the grid in 2020?

AB: I hope so! I will cross my fingers for that. 

JS: What do you think of Killarney Raceway, or of Cape Town and its people?

AB: I love Cape Town! Killarney is a killer of a track (laughs). Especially, the rallycross track. I haven’t driven around the full circuit yet even though I have been here for three years. I love the scenery and the fact that you can see Table Mountain from the track, and the people here are so friendly. The food here is the best. It is really lovely!

JS: You have raced on a number of World RX circuits in a number of countries? I have a challenge for you. Can you DRAW your ideal World RX circuit or what would it look like?

AB: I have no idea! (laughs) I can try. 

AB to Liam Doran: Should the track be clockwise or anti-clockwise?

LD: I prefer clockwise.

AB: Well, this one is going to be clockwise. I am also extremely confused but this is my joker lap. (Laughs) This is so hard!

Rallycross Circuit drawn by: Andreas Bakkerud.
A very huge 'Thank You' to Andreas Bakkerud for taking some time out of his very busy schedule to chat with us ahead of the FIA World Rallycross Championship title decider in Cape Town. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien
Co-Editor – Franco Theron
Circuit drawn By – Andreas Bakkerud
Pictures By – FIA World Rallycross Media/Junaid Samodien.

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