Sun, rain and even snow in the end: it was totally crazy April weather in round two of the FIA World Rallycross Championship (World RX) and a roller coaster ride for EKS Audi Sport. After positions one and three in qualifying, expectations of Andreas Bakkerud and Mattias Ekström in Portugal had been higher than positions four and seven.
Andreas Bakkerud is an extremely fast learner. Still in fifth position after day one at Montalegre, the new driver at EKS Audi Sport made a really strong showing on Sunday. On his favourite track in the mountains of Northern Portugal, the Norwegian won Q3 and Q4, so securing overall victory in qualifying ahead of Sébastien Loeb in a Peugeot. His teammate, Mattias Ekström, completed the strong qualifying performance of the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro cars in position three.
Full spectrum weekend: from a joy and confidence, to the moment where you watch the final on team’s TV. This all hipes up the motivation to work even harder. #GoHardOrGoHome #EKSRX #AudiSport pic.twitter.com/5SwKUUSgC4
— Mattias Ekström (@mattiasekstroem) April 29, 2018
It was a rollercoaster ride for EKS Audi Sport in Portugal
Then the first setback in the semi-finals: After having been bumped by Peugeot driver Kevin Hansen in turn one, Ekström, in fourth position, missed the final – for the first time since Canada in early August 2017. Bakkerud lost a position due to the tussle as well but, in second place, made it into the final anyhow.
But then Bakkerud, in his 51st run in the World Rallycross Championship, experienced a premiere: snow! “I’ve never driven a supercar on snow before,” said the Norwegian. “The conditions were extremely difficult. In the end, I only finished fourth. But the joy of my first qualifying victory in the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro outweighs any disappointment.” With his strong performance, the Audi driver advanced to second place in the World Championship.
“This day again showed how close victory and defeat are together in rallycross,” said Ekström, who was half a second short of making it into the final. “Following the qualifying heats, things looked promising but then, after turn one of our semi-finals, really bad. Due to the impact from behind, I simply lost too much time even though I tried everything afterwards. The end was disappointing. But we again showed that we have a fast car.”
— Andreas Bakkerud (@AndreasBakkerud) May 1, 2018