Andreas Bakkerud talks of “an extremely tough job” for the 2019 World RX season

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Over the off season a number of teams and drivers had a hard time to get on the grid for the 2019 FIA World Rallycross season. Potentially none had it tougher than Andreas Bakkerud who had to scramble to set up his Monster Energy RX Cartel team.

A veteran in the sport, he finished third in the standings last year with the EKS squad and was the first of the non-VW entries. It was equal to his 2016 season when he was with the factory Ford squad – or the Hoonigan Racing Division team, a year that he also took three wins including the season closer in Argentina.

Certainly, at that time, his stock was on the rise but after 2017 Ford withdrew. Then a year later his factory Audi seat went when they withdrew their funding.

It left him with a stark choice. Take his fate into his own hands or not be on the grid at all. At the end of the 2018 season, the team didn’t exist. But they made it to the first round of the 2019 season at Abu Dhabi.

There has been a lot of sleepless nights to get the team on the grid.

“I think the big difference from us and the other teams. Our background – we didn’t have a team The others have their fathers or mothers, having a team and we are not from a rich background we need to do a lot of work to get partners involved in this project,” Bakkerud said to RacerViews.

“We now have a bunch of great partners involved. Hopefully it is long term and I need to deliver results and be up there fighting. We need to be visible for fans and sponsors.

“It is an extremely tough job. Right now I have 66 partners and I need a couple more to do the whole year.”

To think that the RX Cartel wouldn’t have the funds to finish the year would make any RX fan shudder. Bakkerud is hugely popular, immensely charismatic, has a great travelling fanbase with the Bakkerud Blue and a popular teammate with Liam Doran both bringing the results.

Doran took a podium in the first round, Bakkerud on the podium in rounds 2 and 3. Both drivers were in the final for the first time in Spa.

“As a team principal, having two cars in the final – he [Doran] is worth his money!”

As for Spa, the team were on the absolute pace – perhaps the quickest team of the weekend. They ended 1-2 after Saturday and Bakkerud was Top Qualifier and won his semi.

It looked good for the final. He lined up alongside Joni Wiiman in the Hyundai and as it turned out, the fixation on Wiiman and turn 1 would be what stood in the way of an RX Cartel victory.

“It was very hard. To be honest Timur had great pace. I tried everything I could and I felt that the gap stayed the same.

“I would catch a little bit, then I would lose a little bit. He had very good speed and when he beat me off turn 1. Joni and I were battling and the yellow rocket went through and my speed wasn’t enough.”

But there was genuine happiness for Bakkerud to Timerzyanov. Obviously Bakkerud wanted to get back on the top step but he was equally excited for his friend to break his winless streak.

Surely that day will come. The pace and potential shown by the team is obvious. Equally the Hansens and Gronholms will be there to stop Bakkerud but there is a fight.

And you can be sure that the Norwegian is up for it.

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The RacerViews info

By Sam Tickell

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