In only its sixth race, the Ford Focus RS RX has established itself as a championship contender as Hoonigan Racing Division driver Andreas Bakkerud earned his second consecutive FIA World Rallycross win on Sunday in Holjes, Sweden.
The weekend was an uphill battle for the Norwegian driver. After finishing third-fastest in practice, Bakkerud’s Focus RS RX suffered a double puncture in the first qualifying race that resulted in a DNF. His crew, comprised of Hoonigan Racing Division, Ford Performance and M-Sport engineers, worked to repair the vehicle in time for the second qualifying race.
He took second in both the second and third qualifying rounds before taking first in the fourth race. That put Bakkerud on pole position for his Semi Final, which he went on to win. A slow launch in the Final put him in third position mid-race, but his patience paid off when he overtook two Peugeot drivers on the last lap for the win.
“I just missed the start, and I saw the guys in front of me were hitting each other. I had been through the joker lap, and even though I couldn’t get my windshield wipers to work, I told myself to keep calm,” Bakkerud said in an interview post-race. “I saw Timmy [Hansen] getting out of the joker and I just had a big enough gap to take him.”
In addition to it being Bakkerud’s second consecutive victory, Sunday’s race also marked his fourth consecutive World RX podium appearance in Sweden.
“I have no words. Being on the podium four times in a row at Holjes in Supercar…it’s just amazing,” said Bakkerud. “It’s an event that every rallycross driver wants to win, and we did it!”
The Focus RS RX race program is a collaboration between Ford Performance, M-Sport, and Hoonigan Racing Division. One of the factory-backed Hoonigan Racing Division drivers has qualified for the Final in five of the six 2016 rounds, and it has been on the podium three times this season.
“Obviously we’ve known the car had pace, but now that we’ve worked some of the bugs out, it’s clear that Andreas’s car is where it needs to be. To come back from a double puncture and a DNF to win really shows the capability of the vehicle and the team,” said Brian Novak, Ford Performance Motorsports Supervisor of Rallycross. “They have been doing an amazing job. Winning two races in a row is incredible. It’s really a testament to how well everyone’s working together.”
Hoonigan Racing Division driver and owner Ken Block narrowly missed Sunday’s Semi Final, finishing 13th after a bout of bad luck.
“We are optimistic about the future of the car. We obviously still have some work to do and we’d like to get both cars on the podium,” said Novak. “Ken’s having some bad luck, but we’ll keep pushing to get them both up there.”
The Hoonigan Racing Division and the Focus RS RX vehicles will be making their North American debut August 5-7th at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.