Bring it on! Bakkerud ready for Supercar move

by Hal Ridge |

At Lydden a couple of weeks ago Andreas Bakkerud was bouncing around in his usual happy-go-lucky manner, taking his first day as a Supercar racer in his stride and behaving as if it were most natural thing in the world to have graduated to the top class in rallycross. Behind that almost always smiley face is perhaps the hardest working driver in rallycross today. One day in the weeks before his deal was done his phone went straight to voicemail. When he called back later he apologised for having been asleep, then explained that he’d worked 50-hours straight and was grabbing a quick nap before getting back to it!

Bakkerud (21) has been the dominant force in the Super1600 field for the last two seasons, winning back-to-back titles with Finnish outfit Set Promotion. Now he feels the time is right to move to the top tier and will do so with the newly expanded two-car LD Motorsports team where, as a Monster Energy athlete he will race a Citroën DS3. “I feel very ready,” said the excited Norwegian. “I spent a long time trying to work out where was best to go in terms of team, car and teammate. The DS3 is definitely the best car, and LD Motorsports has some of the best engineers around, so the package is very strong. This is my dream and I am so excited.”

A key factor in the decision for Bakkerud was the teammate he would have in Supercars. With teams of two, or more, cars becoming the modern trend, Bakkerud is forward thinking, looking at what he can learn from his teammate on and off the track. “Liam [Doran] is a very experienced rallycross driver, and he will be fighting for the championship. I can learn a lot from him. He is still young like me, always trying new things in different forms of motor sport and doing everything he can. I like that,” said Bakkerud who becomes the second Monster Energy athlete to compete in the RallycrossRX championship alongside Doran. “Monster Energy has made Liam a star, and I am proud that they think I have potential too. They are very supportive and were keen to have a two car team so it is perfect. My car will be more blue than green though because I also have backing from my local sponsors who have supported me all along.”

Present at the recent RallycrossRX media day held at Lydden Hill, Bakkerud was full of praise for what he saw. “Lydden was very good. It was great for the drivers there to be available for the media and sponsors. It’s how it should be. The way IMG are improving things is very positive for the championship and I’m very proud to be part of it. There have been some people being negative but  they are wrong, I think the media day showed everybody how it can be,” Bakkerud said.

Despite his youthful sprit, Bakkerud has an old head on young shoulders, and is easily one of the most astute drivers in the paddock. After winning the Super1600 title in 2011 behind the wheel of a Set Promotion Renault Clio, Bakkerud was tempted to move straight to Supercar. Before making any big decisions, he sought guidance from those he looked up to. “Sverre Isachsen told me to stay in Super1600 for another year. I also asked Petter [Solberg], who has been helping me for a long time, and he thought I would be better with another year too,” he said. Taking the advice, Bakkerud took on a new challenge within Set Promotion which had run a new Renault Twingo in 2011 for Russian driver Ildar Rakhmatullin, with limited success. Bakkerud grabbed the project with both hands and helped the team turn it into a winner straight away. “The Twingo was a good challenge and helped me to learn a new car. It was very different from the Clio. I think that experience will help a lot with learning the DS3. In 2011 I was fastest over a single lap just once, but last year I was fastest six times. I was only off the podium once. I taught myself to handle the pressure of being the one to beat and that has helped me so much.”

“The last two-and-a-half years with Jussi Pinomakki at Set Promotion has been great and I will miss the whole team. I learned so much from being there and I can take that forward now. I want to be the joker in the Supercar pack. My goal is to get into the final, and then as we all see, anything can happen. I would like some wins, but it won’t be easy. There are a lot of very tough guys out there now, so it will be very competitive. Having Solberg in the championship is amazing. He is my old friend and my idol. Competing against him will be a unique honour.”

Although aware that the line-up of permanent drivers is strong, Bakkerud believes that there are three real contenders for the European title in 2013, and interestingly, he has connections with all three. “Liam of course will be fighting for the top at every event and as his team-mate I hope he can win the title. Petter [Solberg] is one of the best drivers in the world and he will be at the top all the time, and my old team make Timur Timerzyanov will be very, very fast. I have walked every track in Europe with Timur and he is very clever with his ideas and his lines. He is fast at Lydden, and it’s Liam’s home track so they will be fast at the first round. If I can get some good testing in before that I think I can be fast too. I have always had good results at Lydden, I think to be a fast rallycross driver you have to be fast at Lydden Hill.”

Although Bakkerud knows some of the competition, watching from the sidelines is very different from racing against drivers and knowing how they perform and behave. “The strange thing for me is that when I was in Super1600 I knew all the drivers very well and what they were like to race against, now it is very new to me, but I will learn fast. I am not moving into Supercars just to make up the numbers” said Bakkerud who has emerged from the pack of young drivers to have entered the sport in the last few years as perhaps the most polished all round performer.





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