Andreas Bakkerud says that the collision that took him out of the second World Rallycross final in Barcelona was “a racing incident”.
Bakkerud was hit by points leader Johan Kristoffersson as the pair battled for the lead going into turn one, with the contact snowballing into a much bigger incident that collected most of the field and resulted in the retirement of Bakkerud and Robin Larsson who hit Bakkerud’s stricken Mégane R.S. RX.
After being squeezed at the start multiple times during Saturday’s racing – and knowing that one more infraction would result in a points penalty in the championship standings – Kristoffersson approached Bakkerud ahead of the race to let him know that he would be leaving him room. Ultimately the plan didn’t work out, resulting in the coming together.
“I saw Andreas drop back at the start and I didn’t expect him to be there, I thought he was further back than he was,” Kristoffersson said on the event’s official broadcast. “Obviously, I almost had a car length and when I braked for the first corner, he came back like a rocket.
“I couldn’t do anything different to be honest.
“I didn’t see Andreas and I believe I was a car length in front, or almost a car length in front. And when I braked, he braked later.”
Bakkerud’s take on the incident was much the same but said that Kristoffersson could have perhaps left more room.
“I had a very good reaction time [at the start], I think second-best in the field just behind Robin Larsson, better than Johan, then in the take-off we didn’t have the traction enough and when Johan got the traction he was of course a little bit ahead of me,” Bakkerud told DirtFish. “He first turned in a little bit, and then threw a big one at the end and his wheels put my car into the barrier.
“When I turned around there, Robin Larsson had nowhere to go and went right into my door.
“For sure it was a racing incident but for sure if he wants to avoid it he can avoid it by leaving a car width,” he added. “But yeah, I was going always for the win and I had to try it. I haven’t tasted champagne all year, so I was going hard and it is what it is.”
Despite the hard end, Bakkerud was happy with his and the GCK-led RX Cartel team’s overall performance over the weekend. After struggling to match the pace of the frontrunners for much of the season, Bakkerud delivered two qualifying round wins and a semifinal win in Barcelona.
The upturn in form came after the team tested in France, something that he says gave the team much more confidence going into the weekend.
“We did some testing last week in France and we came more prepared,” he told DirtFish. “We didn’t have any problems during the weekend, and we were ahead of the game instead of chasing the game which is the biggest change and we were confident coming in here, so [it’s] absolutely great to be back on pace.
Bakkerud’s qualifying round wins – one on Saturday, one on Sunday – means that the 2019 runner-up now holds the unique distinction of winning qualifying rounds with four different cars from three different manufacturers following previous successes in Ford and Audi machinery.
“It was great to be the driver winning qualifying heats with the most different manufacturers’ cars, I take this as a win, and I hope that we can get even more,” he said. “I want a [event] win!”
There’s now a five-week gap until the next event at Spa-Francorchamps, a track where Bakkerud expects to fare well due to RX Cartel’s new-found pace and his previous form at the track.
“I think definitely that this track suited us well here in Barcelona but I also want to say that we have taken some steps on the performance side and I think that Belgium can be good for us,” he said after the second final at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. “I was P2 there last year so I would like to go one step higher on the podium this year.”