Bakkerud signs for Block’s Hoonigan Racing team and Nitiss set for European rally return
by Hal Ridge |
Andreas Bakkerud is regarded as one of the showmen of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, so its fitting that the young Norwegian was announced this week as team mate to YouTube Gymkhana sensation and rallycross driver Ken Block in the Hoonigan racing team for the 2016 season. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to race alongside Ken and his team – that happens to be one of the best motorsport teams in the world!” said Bakkerud. “I love rallycross and I’ve been able to have a few good seasons back-to-back. And the car? Ford Performance and M-Sport are building us one of the best cars to ever compete in rallycross.” Bakkerud has won five Supercar events since moving to the top category in the sport for 2013, including three World RX rounds. “I think that working with Ken and his team in 2016 is really going to help me elevate my driving even further, plus I’ve always admired the way they handle exposing and marketing themselves both on and off event,’ he said.
Bakkerud’s former OlsbergsMSE team mate Reinis Nitiss will compete in his home round of the European Rally Championship, Rally Liepaja, at the beginning on February, for the second year in a row. He will drive a Peugeot 208 R2 and will be co-driven by Andis Neiksans. “During the rallycross off season, it is important to keep improving and developing my driving skills,” said Nitiss. “The long racing distance of rally, as well as the varying road conditions and unexpected situations, will greatly help in my improvement and will be an important part of my preseason preparation for rallycross. Last year, as a beginner, I managed to post competitive times in multiple stages. This year we will try to improve on that, although the main goal is still to gain experience and do the full race distance”
Hansen brothers Timmy and Kevin are both up for the overall Bilsport award at the Swedish Motorsport ASN (SBF) awards ceremony that will be held on Saturday evening. The pair have already been announced as the winners of the Senior and Junior 2015 rallycross awards respectively – the first brothers to do so, and both can win the overall prize. You can vote for the Hansen’s here. “I’m really honoured to be Sweden’s Rallycross Driver of the Year,” said World RX star Timmy Hansen. “Kevin and I both need everyone’s help now to vote for us to become the Senior and Junior Swedish driver of the year. Rallycross has never won the overall prize, but I think it’s about time!”
EKS owner and driver Mattias Ekstrom ran a pair of the teams Audi S1 Supercars at Kitzbuhel in Austria, to give a range of personalities the experience of driving the World RX Supercar. The SuperQ challenge, set up by Ekstrom and Audi Sport, pitched the competitors against each other on a purpose built course. Skiers Felix Neureuther, Marcel Hirscher and Ted Ligety took part, as did street trial pro Danny MacAskill, Moto GP racer Andrea Dovizioso, Taddy Blazusiak and freestyler Jon Olsson. Sometime World RX driver Edward Sandstrom was on hand to instruct the new drivers with Ekstrom. Henrik Kristoffersen and Andrea Dovizioso were victorious in the teams’ challenge against Felix Neureuther and Tadeusz Błażusiak, while Neureuther won the battle of the Alpine Ski experts and Dovizisoso won the class of those more used to competition on wheels.
The MSA British Rallycross Championship will feature a revised event format for 2016, and will use the heats, semi-finals and final system similar to that pioneered by the European and World Rallycross Championship. The top 16 drivers in each class at the Intermediate Classification will be spilt into two eight car semi-finals, the top four from each semi moving through to the final. Championship points will be scored at the end of the event. The times from all three qualifying heats will count towards the qualifying position. Bonus points for entering on time and for Supercar timed practice have been abolished, but the bonus points for fastest heat in each class will remain. Fuel for the 2016 series will be provided by a single supplier, and will be dispatched to competitors in a controlled refueling zone. Tim Whittington will oversee the series as Championship Manager.
The fifth round of the Andros Trophy ice racing series takes place this weekend at Lans En Vercors. FIA European Rallycross Championship front-runner Jean-Baptiste Dubourg currently leads the standings by over 40 points.
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