Bakkerud victorious at first Asian World Rallycross event

by Hal Ridge |

Andreas Bakkerud didn’t top the time sheets all weekend at the eleventh round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship prior to the final, but having started on the second row he pounced on a chance to take the lead on lap one when event pace-setter Timmy Hansen ran wide on the first lap. Hansen put up a hard fight, but Bakkerud would not falter and claimed his second World RX victory.

The event was held at former Formula One venue, Intercity Istanbul Park near Istanbul in Turkey, and marked the first ever rallycross event to be run in Asia. Finnish driver Toomas Heikkinen was fastest in heat one, before Hansen went on a heat winning charge to top the next three and the Intermediate Classification. Heikkinen was second, the pair both taking a pole position apiece in the semi-finals. While Hansen led semi one to take victory, it was harder work for Heikkinen who had a race long battle with team-mate Anton Marklund, the Finn eventually beating the Swede by the narrowest of margins. Bakkerud finished second to Hansen to join Marklund on row two, while Solberg brothers Henning and Petter completed the final grid.

As the pack headed for turn one in the final, Bakkerud passed Heikkinen for second, who headed straight for his joker. Piling on the pressure to Hansen, Bakkerud found a way passed towards the end of lap one, Hansen immediately took his joker on lap two, returning to the main circuit just ahead of Heikkinen. Henning Solberg chased Bakkerud but was caught by Hansen and the following fight lost both drivers time. Bakkerud looked to have it in the bag and took his joker on the fifth lap, but only just came out in front of Hansen. The Swede piled on the pressure, but Bakkerud didn’t put a foot wrong in the closing stages of the race to claim victory for the OlsbergsMSE team after after a run of bad luck that goes back to the Belgian round in July. Hansen finished second with Heikkinen third. Marklund slowed in the closing stages to be fourth, as did Henning Solberg who suffered fuel related issues.

Petter Solberg didn’t even make it to turn two in the final, a technical failure putting the newly crowned World Rallycross Champion out. The failure as well as summerised Solberg’s weekend, he had twice stalled on the start line in heats three and four and had to race hard in the semi-final just to make it to the final, where he would go no further. Reinis Nitiss just missed out on a place in the final by finished fourth in his semi, it was a similar situation for Edward Sandstrom in the other semi who raced well with broken suspension after hitting a wall. Worse was to come for the EKS RX driver, he was later dropped to last after his car was found to be under the minimum weight. Andy Scott again made the semi-finals, while Albatec’s new driver Marc Scott only just missed out on a debut semi-final and was 14th. Irishman Derek Tohill had arguably his best event of the season so far and qualified 10th for the semi-finals but struggled with gear selection issues, slowing his charge.

Timer Timerzyanov had a misfire in heat three, but still made the semi-finals. The Peugeot-Hansen team having to change the engine before the semis, but Timerzyanov was unable to progress to the final. Richard Goransson had been fast all weekend after his podium in Italy at the previous round but hit a wall in his semi-final, putting him out. PG Andersson made his EKS RX debut and was hampered by missing heat one due to an engine change. On the pace on lap times, the experienced Swede could only finish 13th at the Intermediate Stage and just missed out on a place in the semis.

Sebastien Eriksson took victory in the RX Lites category, ahead of Kevin Hansen who missed heat one due to an engine change. Janis Baumanis made his debut in the category and had a rude welcome when he rolled his car in the first heat. Amazingly, once back on his wheels he drove back for the re-start of the heat and made it to third place in the final at the end of the event. RX Lites champion Kevin Eriksson finished fourth.




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