The man most in demand after Ford’s WRX exit

Published on Friday October 13 2017

Ford is backing out of World RallyX

The afternoon of October 4 2017 was pivotal for next season’s World Rallycross Championship. Within a matter of hours, Peugeot and Ford laid out their future.

In short, Peugeot is staying, Ford is not. 

While uncertainty has hung over Peugeot’s rallycross future in recent months, all indications pointed towards Ford remaining in World RX. Although Ken Block’s Hoonigan Racing Division hadn’t had the second term it intended, on the back of winning three events with the Focus RS RX in 2016 and finishing third overall in both the drivers’ and teams’ championships, Block admitted to Motorsport News in August that focus had already shifted to developments for 2018. 

Ford’s departure is a big shame for World RX, but the move has also thrown a curveball into the driver market. Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud, who has scored all but one of the Hoonigan squad’s 11 podiums since the start of 2016, is at the end of a two-year contract but had been expected to be retained for 2018.

However, now a free agent, the 26-year-old is one of the most desirable drivers in the paddock. It would be mightily surprising if his phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook in the last week. 

Bakkerud has won with every Supercar team he has raced for in his career (LD Motorsports, OlsbergsMSE and Hoonigan) in cars with a variety of technical specifications. Assuming that Peugeot will maintain Red Bull backing, the same going for Mattias Ekstrom’s EKS squad if it continues next year, as a Monster Energy athlete an energy drink clash may play a part in Bakkerud’s next move. 

With no Ford backing, where does Bakkerud head next?

Despite a Monster link with Petter Solberg’s PSRX team, World champion Johan Kristoffersson is expected to remain with Solberg next year and even if he didn’t, Bakkerud and Solberg are hardly the best of friends. While they have been competitive in 2017, Bakkerud is unlikely to move to either MJP Racing or STARD, squads that don’t have works-support, the latter also requiring budget to obtain a seat. 

There are murmurs in the paddock of potential new teams, but there is a confirmed new outfit that has the ‘correct’ energy drink ties and is in need of rallycross experience. Guerlain Chicherit’s GCK squad will campaign a pair of Prodrive-built Renault Megane Supercars next season. While Prodrive clearly knows all about creating title-winning equipment, an experienced rallycross driver who has already helped to develop cars would be a big asset. 

GCK needs to learn the discipline too, and while Chicherit continues to progress as a driver, a proven winner alongside him would be a significant boost. Bakkerud and his spotter, Dave Mansfield, are just the package that GCK needs to get up to speed quickly and Bakkerud’s full-of-life outgoing personality could fit Chicherit’s bill perfectly.

Recent news

Column

Who I have my money on for the BTCC title

By Matt James

Rallying News

FIA blocks ‘radical’ final stage plan for Rally GB

Tuesday’s Wales Rally GB launch has been cancelled after the FIA refused to sign off on this...

Rallying News

Ostberg rejoins Citroen for Rally Portugal

Mads Ostberg will rejoin Citroen's World Rally Championship line-up for at least two more events,...

Promoted feature

Swaffham Raceway: Family friendly fun

East Anglia has always been a hotbed for short oval racing and one of the resurgent venues in...

Racing News

Introducing Lewis Kent: Making the steps towards the BTCC

[DRIVER PROMOTION] “We’re aiming to go out there, do well in the championship and make...

Rallying News

Safari Rally won't feature in 2019 WRC

FIA president Jean Todt has revealed that the Safari Rally will not be on the World Rally Championship...

Rallying News

Ogier seals Corsica victory

Sebastien Ogier sealed victory in the World Rally Championship's Tour de Corse with a comfortable...

Column

Silverstone's rallycross adventure

By Matt James

Racing News

Ingram wins Brands finale, takes points lead

Tom Ingram won the final British Touring Car Championship race at Brands Hatch to move into...

Racing News

Proctor scores first win after slicks gamble

Senna Proctor took Vauxhall's first victory in the British Touring Car Championship since 2012...

Racing News

Goff beats Turkington to win season opener

Jack Goff won the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch after...

Goff snatches Brands BTCC pole

Jack Goff scored his third pole position in as many British Touring Car Championship race meetings...

Racing News

Introducing Patrick Kibble: Moving from karts to cars

[DRIVER PROMOTION] Being tall in motorsport brings with it a number of challenges. And one...

Rallying News

West on verge of MN Rally crown

Peugeot 306 Maxi driver Chris West can seal the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship this...

Rallying News

Loeb among Corsica favourites reckon rivals

Despite not competing on Corsica for a decade, Sebastien Loeb's World Rally Championship rivals...

Racing News

MSA chief executive steps down from role

Rob Jones, the chief executive of UK motorsport's governing body, has stepped down after 12...

Rallying News

Quarter-finals set for DiRT world championship

The 36 quarter-finalists for the inaugural DiRT eSports World Championships have been chosen...

Racing News

Monger never thought comeback podium possible

Billy Monger says he never imagined a top-three finish on his BRDC British F3 debut was possible...

Rallying News

FIA ratifies powerstage rule change

A regulation change to stop World Rally Championship crews taking a tactical approach to powerstages...

Rallying News

Loeb's team pleased with all-new Peugeot's debut

Sebastien Loeb's team ran its brand-new Peugeot 208 Supercar for the first time at the Silverstone...

Rallying News

Rallycross stalwart Doran to race at Lydden Hill

Multiple European Rallycross event-winner Liam Doran will return to rallycross Supercar action...

Rallying News

Ekstrom and Audi on top in Silverstone RX testing

Mattias Ekstrom's EKS Audi Sport team was fastest in both wet and dry conditions at the second...

1 2 3 50

More national news, in-depth race reports and analysis. Subscribe to the Motorsport News paper today.

What’s On

This weekend

No Events

Later

No Events

This weekend

No Events

Later

No Events

X