Hoonigan Racing Division’s Andreas Bakkerud has managed to keep his hopes alive in the hunt for third-overall in the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship by finishing the final European round of the season at Estering in Germany in third place.
The young Norwegian had a strong weekend overall, being in the top five for pace throughout Saturday’s Q1 and Q2 racing sessions. Heading into Sunday’s Q3 session sitting 4th overall, Bakkerud was set up in a good position to advance onward. However, in Q4, Bakkerud suffered a broken a rear toe link on the first lap of the race, leaving him to drive with three normal wheels and one very unpredictable and broken passenger-side rear wheel. Despite the difficulty—including tapping a few barriers on his way around the circuit due to the mechanical issue—Bakkerud managed to win his Q4 race. Due to the issue however, his overall time suffered, dropping him into P7 heading into the Semi Finals.
For Bakkerud’s teammate and team boss, Ken Block, the weekend was a bit more challenging. Block won his Q1 race on Saturday, despite tricky and slippery conditions that persisted all day. This win initially placed him P7 in the field of 27 entries. However, a bad launch in Q2 cost him a few places and he finished Saturday sitting just within the top 12 at P12. Sunday saw Block hold onto that P12 overall position through his Q3 and Q4 races, placing him into Semi Final 2. However, due to contact with fellow Ford driver Janis Baumanis during the first lap, Block suffered a broken suspension and was forced to retire for the day.
Semi Final 1 saw Bakkerud navigate his way through a tricky group of 5 other drivers and nab a 3rd overall finish, advancing him to the last row of the Final. In the Final, Bakkerud had a great start and managed to weave himself up into P3 midway through turn 1—a notoriously difficult corner at Estering. Despite losing cosmetic pieces of his car and dealing with a leaking exhaust that filled his Ford Focus RS RX with smoke and fumes from lap 1 onward, the Norweigan managed to hold on to that 3rd overall standing all the way across the finish line.
“That was a pretty crazy Final for me,” said Bakkerud. “I managed to get myself from the back of the grid into third and hold on to it the entire race, but it was really, really hard because the car was filling with exhaust and smoke the entire time! I ran out of the car the second I crossed the finish line because I couldn't really breathe, but I wasn’t about to pull over and stop until then! I’m really happy with this finish and it means I’m still technically in the hunt for third overall in the championship. One more race to go in Argentina!”
For both Hoonigan Racing Division drivers there’s one round left in the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship, November 26th and 27th in Argentina. Be sure to tune in and see if Bakkerud is able to secure third overall in the 2016 season.