Tuesday 1 September 2020

"We’ve made many, many steps in the right direction" - Andreas Bakkerud.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.
The Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel has made steps in the right direction after a difficult start to the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship

The doubleheader in Sweden saw Andreas Bakkerud qualify for the final, and finish in the position he started - 6th, while his teammate Liam Doran had a weekend to forget after his Megane R.S. RX suffered from a number mechanical failures. 

Round 3 in Kouvola-Finland saw Doran claim an eight-place finish after Q1, but that is where his luck ended. The British Bomb retired from Q2 with prop shaft failure, while Q3 saw him retire from the session with a broken rim and broken rear upright due to contact at turn one. 

Andreas Bakkerud on the other hand had a much smoother Saturday with consistent top-ten finishes in the three qualifying heats and ranked seventh in the intermediate classification meaning he was through to the semi-finals, while his teammate was done for the day. 

Sunday (round 4) got off to a costly start after the FIA Stewards fined the team €5,000 for a breach of the COVID-19 supplementary regulations. 

However, in a statement issued to DirtFish.com, GCK explained the reason for the breach of COVID-19 regulations: "Some of our team members missed this morning’s temperature check at the entrance gate by mistake, having used a different gate that was open to enter the circuit."

"Having arrived from a different direction today, the team members entered through the first open gate leading to their team structure to start their working day.

"However, this gate was not manned and the guys therefore missed their morning temperature check. Upon realizing, they were asked to go and retake their tests, which of course everyone did promptly and successfully."

Round 4 of the championship got off to a wet start in Kouvola. A wet day that brought tons of action and an epic comeback from Liam Doran who fought his way from 17th to 14th overall. 

In a bold call on a moist track, Doran bolted on a set of slicks and immediately went backwards off the line to finish the session 13th overall. The Brit drove a fantastic Q2, and while leading, his hopes went rolling away after a broken wheel bearing sent him sliding off the track. 

Speaking to Niel Cole, World RX paddock reporter directly after the race, Doran said: "I might as well stay at home and let someone else drive. I don't know how much longer I can do this."

Doran came out swinging in Q3 posting the fifth fastest time, but it wasn't enough to see the him progress to the semi-finals. He missed out on a spot in the semi-finals by 5 points. 

"Happy with that clean last run today," Doran said. "I think it showed that the car and I have the pace to perform, we just haven’t been able to put it fully together yet and perform as a pair. We changed the car’s set up throughout the day and you could definitely feel the difference in the last qualifier."

Meanwhile, Andreas Bakkerud claimed a ninth-place finish in round 3, and mounted a fightback on Sunday in the wet conditions.

Bakkerud claimed a second-place finish behind Mattias Ekstrom in Q1, which slotted him into fifth-place overall. Despite some challenges with traction at the start, Q2 saw Bakkerud put down a great run boldly overtaking Hansen on the last lap to finish in 3rd.

Q3 saw, Andreas finish in second just ahead of Timmy Hansen, which saw the Norweigan claiming a spot in the semi-final with a fifth-place finish overall. 

The Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel driver would line-up in the fastest semi-final with the likes of Mattias Ekstrom, Johan Kristoffersson, etc. And despite crossing the line in fourth-place, Juha Rytkonen was handed a five-second penalty, which promoted the Norwegian to the final. 

The final didn't quite go the way Bakkerud expected despite sneaking up the inside of Timur Timerzyanov and Timmy Hansen at turn one. Timur fought back into turn two pushing Andreas wide, with Timmy getting through. From there, he was unable to make any progress after his windscreen was filled with mud meaning he would race all the way to the checkered flag blind and would finish the final in sixth-place. 

"Overall, we’ve made many, many steps in the right direction - we didn’t have any big technical issues but the super tricky conditions impacted our overall performance," Bakkerud said. "We’re proud to have put the car into the final to fight against 5 top drivers and this is where I think we should play all the time."

"Considering the quickly changing conditions, I think we tactically played our cards right but had some small issues in the semi-finals and finals, which we need to analyse further and work on ahead of Riga. I have full confidence that we will be spraying champagne at the end of the day there."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

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