Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud (Škoda Fabia Mk3) was crowned 2021 FIA European Rallycross Champion for RX1 cars at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on Sunday (October 10). Bakkerud – who also celebrated his 30th birthday today – won an all decisive Euro RX1 final from Frenchman Fabien Pailler (Peugeot 208) and Latvian Jānis Baumanis (Škoda Fabia Mk3). For Bakkerud today’s title is his third European championship title win after having won the FIA European Super1600 Championship in 2011 and 2012. In the FIA European RX3 championship Yury Belevskiy (Audi A1) was victorious and won his third event of the season while the championship will be decided next week during the final event in Portugal.
The entry list for the final round of this years FIA European Rallycross Championship for RX1 cars was holding 18 drivers with four of them considered 2021 title contenders. The championship was supposed to be decided among Fabien Pailler, points leader before Spa-Francorchamps, Andreas Bakkerud, Andréa Dubourg (Peugeot 208) and Jānis Baumanis. However after completing Q1 and Q2 on Saturday the list was down to 15 drivers that were taking the start for Q3 on Sunday with three of the mentioned title contenders in the lower part of the list. After Q2 on Saturday Andreas Bakkerud was best placed as he was leading it from Marcin Gagacki (Ford Fiesta Mk7) and Jonathan Pailler (Peugeot 208).
On Sunday in Q3 Bakkerud set another fastest time but missed out on a clean sweep later on when he got beaten by Jonathan Pailler in the final Q4 race. Nevertheless Bakkerud was still the top qualifier with Jonathan Pailler qualifying second and Marcin Gagacki third. From the title contenders Fabien Pailler and Jānis Baumanis qualified respectively as fourth and fifth. The only title contender who did not made it into the semi-finals was Andréa Dubourg for who the season ended after Q4.
Bakkerud was on pole for the first semi-final with Gagacki besides him and Baumanis behind him. Bakkerud had a perfect start and lead it from lights to flag in a semi-final filled with an incident when Mandie August (SEAT Ibiza Mk4) rolled her car and René Münnich (SEAT Ibiza Mk4) retired from the semi-final after he noticed the accident while being at that time a position to qualify for the final. Eventually Bakkerud came in first, Baumanis second and surprisingly Lithuanian Paulius Pleskovas (Ford Fiesta Mk7), who was brought in in the semi-final after Stéphane de Ganay (Citroën DS3) did not made it to the pre-grid, finished third and was through to the final.
Then in the second semi-final the front row was occupied by the Pailler brothers with a clear mission for Fabien [Pailler] to qualify for the final in order to stay in the running for the championship. Tamás Kárai (Audi S1) first jumped the start and was forced to pass through the joker lap section twice. During the second attempt the Hungarian had the better start from the second row and went into the lead ahead of Fabien and Jonathan Pailler. Jonathan Pailler then decided to pass through the joker lap section in lap four, followed by Kárai and Fabien Pailler in the lap after. While Kárai did one more pass through it in the final lap. Therefore Fabien Pailler won the second semi-final and brought the championship decider to the RX1 final. Jonathan Pailler and Tamás Kárai were the other qualifiers for the final.
The line up for the all decisive ‘the winner takes it all’ final was Bakkerud and Fabien Pailler on the front row and Jonathan Pailler and Baumanis on the second row. The gird was completed by Kárai and Pleskovas. The final was more or less decided shortly after the start. Bakkerud has a solid start and came out of the first corner ahead of Fabien Pailler. Baumanis won the battle for third from Jonathan Pailler. Then in lap four Jonathan Pailler went into the joker lap followed by Baumanis. While Bakkerud was expected to take the joker the lap after he only did it in the final lap but managed it to come in first and therefore he was crowned FIA European Rallycross Champion for RX1 cars. Fabien Pailler came in second, is the 2021 runner-up, and Baumanis completed the podium and is also third in the championship.
“This is absolutely crazy,” Bakkerud said.
“I owe ESmotorsport a big ‘thank you’ for giving me the opportunity to compete in Euro RX1 this year. It really didn’t look like that would be happening before the start of the season.
“Everybody in the team has done such a great job. I’m very proud of them all, and there’s more to come.
“Hopefully we have an even brighter future together.”
In the final European RX1 standings Bakkerud ends the season with 90 points, four points clear on second placed Fabien Pailler with 86 points. Jānis Baumanis ends the championship as third with 69 points.
In the RX3 championship Spa-Francorchamps was the penultimate round of the championship. Yury Belevskiy became the top qualifier after he drove to the fastest time in Q4 on Sunday morning beating Marat Knyazev (Audi A1). The latter qualified second with Belgian Kobe Pauwels (Audi A1), who got beaten by Jan Černý (Škoda Citigo) in Q4, qualifying third. The ten RX3 drivers were split out in two semi-finals of five cars each with the first semi-final having Belevskiy and Pauwels on the front row and Damian Litwinowicz (Audi A1) and Jiří Šusta (Škoda Fabia Mk3) on the second row. The second semi-final had Knyazev and Černý on the front row and Belgian Clément Picard (Renault Twingo Mk2) and Per-Magne Svardal (Audi A1) from Norway on the second row.
Belevskiy had the better start in the first semi-final and came out of turn one leading from Pauwels and Litwinowicz. Racing positions changed after lap three when Pauwels passed through the joker lap section and was down to three. However, when Belevskiy and Litwinowicz passed through the joker lap section in the penultimate lap Pauwels climbed to second again and finished behind Belevskiy and ahead of Litwinowicz. Marat Knyazev won the start of Jan Černý and kept the lead throughout the race to come in first and second. Belgian Clément Picard finished third and was also through to the RX3 final.
The final had an all Russian front row with Belevskiy and Knyazev. Pauwels and Černý were placed on the second row while the gird was completed by Litwinowicz and Picard. Belevskiy won the start from Knyazev however behind the Russians Černý and Pauwels made contact resulting in Pauwels being only fifth after the hairpin in the opening lap and going straight into the joker lap section. Černý ran third behind the Russians. Knyazev was the first one of the leading duo to pass through the joker lap section in the fourth lap. When Belevskiy passed through it his position was never in danger and he scored his third win of the season. Knyazev and Černý came in as second and third. Jan Černý received from the Stewards of the Meeting a three seconds time penalty for the incident with Pauwels and therefore he was set back to sixth place. Damian Litwinowicz was promoted to third place. In the standings Belevskiy is leading it with 117 points with the final event of the season also the championship decider. Kobe Pauwels is currently second with 93 points and Marat Knyazev third with 89 points.
The final event of the FIA European Rallycross Championship for RX3 cars takes place next weekend (October 16-17) at the Circuito Internacional de Montalegre at Montalegre in Portugal.
Euro RX1 – Final: 1. Andreas Bakkerud (N), Škoda Fabia Mk3; 2. Fabien Pailler (F), Peugeot 208; 3. Jānis Baumanis (LV), Škoda Fabia Mk3; 4. Jonathan Pailler (F), Peugeot 208; 5. Tamád Kárai (H), Audi S1; 6. Paulius Pleskovas (LT), Ford Fiesta Mk7.
Euro RX3 – Final: 1. Yury Belevskiy (RUS), Audi A1; 2. Marat Knyazev (RUS), Audi A1; 3. Damian Litwinowicz (PL), Audi A1; 4. Kobe Pauwels (B), Audi A1; 5. Clément Picard (B), Renault Twingo Mk2; 6. Jan Černý (CZ), Škoda Citigo.
Euro RX1 (4/4): 1. Andreas Bakkerud (N), 90; 2. Fabien Pailler (F), 86; 3. Jānis Baumanis (LV), 69; 4. Jonathan Pailler (F), 60; 5. Andréa Dubourg (F), 57; etc.
Euro RX3 (4/5): 1. Yury Belevskiy (RUS), 117; 2. Kobe Pauwels (B), 93; 3. Marat Knyazev (RUS), 89; 4. Jan Černý (CZ), 74; 5. Timur Shigaboutdinov (RUS), 58; etc.