This weekend, the action crossed the Atlantic to Trois-Rivières in Canada, in a weekend that saw the race for the Driver’s Championship title turn completely on its head, saw all three KYB backed drivers qualify into the semi-finals, and saw the first victory of the season for the Monster Energy RX Cartel’s Andreas Bakkerud.
The weekend could not have started better. After Friday’s downtown fan parade, the RX Cartel got straight to business on Saturday, finishing Q1 with Liam Doran in P2 and Andreas Bakkerud in P1. It was more good news in Q2, Krisztian Szabo – with his distinctive white EKS car sporting “JUST MARRIED” on his bumper, gave himself another cause for celebration by driving brilliantly to win his race. Q2 also saw the one of the moves of the weekend, Doran inventing a brand new racing line to send his Audi S1 outrageously around the outside of Markland.
Day 2 didn’t start quite as well as Day 1, but it certainly ended superbly. Contact right at the start of Q3 by Paasonen on Doran made things tricky, however the British Bomb raced fantastically to close the gap and finish Q3 in 5th position overall. A slow start in Q3 for Bakkerud sent him to the back of the pack… however within a matter of seconds the Norwegian had found a gap on the inside and went from last to 2nd.
Q4 saw Szabo secure his place in the semi-final, however it was the race that involved Bakkerud and Doran that will go down as one of the most memorable races of the season. Contact sent Bakkerud spinning the wrong way just after the start, putting him dead last. Doran, racing in 2nd suffered a puncture mid race that would make his race even harder- yet he held on and remained in 2nd all the way up until the last lap. Timmy Hansen attempted an overtake and drove into Doran, Timerzyanov then drove into Hansen causing a three car crash. Bakkerud who had been chasing the pack managed to negotiate his way around the carnage to go from last to 2nd– proof that in WRX, always expect the unexpected.
All 3 KYB-sponsored cars qualified for the same semi-final, all securing vital Championship points in doing so. Unfortunately it was not to be for Doran and Szabo who raced well but finished the semi in 4th and 5th respectively. Bakkerud led from start to finish to secure himself a place on the front row of the final. The final, despite being a collection of some of the biggest names in World Rallycross, was dominated by Bakkerud. No-one could get close the Norwegian as he led again from start to finish. The race wasn’t without incident, he burned the clutch at the start and had to battle with a loose rear subframe, however nothing was going to stop Bakkerud from claiming his first win of the season, and first win since Argentina 2016.
Bakkerud’s victory sparked wild, emotion-filled celebrations in the EKS pit and up in the spotter’s tower, however it’s the Norwegian driver who would have enjoyed it most (closely followed by the Bakkerud Blues at home in Bergen!). Bad luck in Silverstone, Holjes, Spa, and bad luck for his team mate Doran in Hell- the RX Cartel must have thought this day was never meant to be. The team has not had the most easy of starts to life- it was added to 2019’s WRX line up at the final hour, signing vital sponsors and also securing service and technical support from 2016 WRX Champions EKS. Viewers of Bakkerud’s vlog #BakkerudLife will see the drivers are not just drivers, involved in everything from marketing, to engineering to sweeping the pits. The win could not be more deserved for this new team. The win also throws the Championship wide open. A poor weekend for some of their main rivals saw Bakkerud close a 22 point gap to just 5- moving into 2nd place with just 3 rounds to go. Doran remains in 7th place, and Szabo in 11th.
KYB is a proud partner of EKS and the RX Cartel as they battle it out for the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Both teams use KYB dampers and electronic power steering and are supported by expert KYB engineers at races and during testing. All eyes are now on Lohéac, France on the 31st August – 1st September.