Fan favourite Andreas Bakkerud has secured a return to rallycross at this weekend’s European Rallycross season opener at Höljes.
Bakkerud competed in every World Rallycross event until this season, as he was left without a drive at the start of 2021.
While he will remain absent from the World RX grid, he will now feature in the Euro RX1 season opener.
“Having to watch one more race weekend from the sofa would just have been unthinkable,” Bakkerud said. “Especially Höljes – my stomach wouldn’t have stood for that!
“I’m over the moon to be back on the grid, and this is such a special track for me. I went to school in Torsby when I was growing up, so I’m very familiar with the area around Höljes and it really feels like a home track to me.”
The two-time champion of European Super 1600 (now Euro RX3) will drive a second Škoda for ESMotorsport alongside fellow World RX exile Jānis Baumanis, who spent last season competing in IMG’s all-electric Projekt E category.
“We’re delighted to welcome Andreas to the team for Höljes,” said ESMotorsport’s team manager Robertas Maneikis.
“He is somebody that really doesn’t need any introduction – he has achieved so much in this sport, and every time he races, he puts his absolute heart and soul into it.
“He is unquestionably one of the most talented drivers of the current generation with a first-class attitude and approach, and we have no doubt that he will give the whole team a boost as we seek to establish ourselves on the Euro RX1 scene.
“With two drivers of the calibre of Andreas and Jānis in our pair of Škoda Fabias in Sweden, we are confident of being amongst the frontrunners from the outset. We’re excited to get to the track and do battle!”
Höljes is a one-off for now, but I’ve definitely got one eye on the future and I’ve always regarded ESMotorsport as a team with real potential in rallycrossAndreas Bakkerud
Bakkerud’s only other Euro RX1 (then known as Supercars) campaign came in 2013, where he won twice – including at Höljes – on his way to fourth in the standings. Since then he has notched up seven World RX wins and was only denied the 2019 world championship title on countback after equalling champion Timmy Hansen’s points haul.
“My expectations are always high – whenever my name is on the entry list, I’m there to win – but I also need to be realistic given that I haven’t done many laps in the Fabia,” said Bakkerud.
“Results come over time, so I can’t expect to go out there and be fastest straight away, but this is a great opportunity to get to know the team and car.
“Höljes is a one-off for now, but I’ve definitely got one eye on the future and I’ve always regarded ESMotorsport as a team with real potential in rallycross,” Bakkerud added, hinting at possible future outings with the team.
“Who knows, maybe I can be the driver who breaks the ice and steps onto the podium with them.”