EuroRX of Spa-Francorchamps; Bakkerud wins the championship on the same day as his 30th birthday


October 10, 2021

by Johnathan Bennett

Andreas Bakkerud and Fabien Pailler fight to the last race for the FIA European Rallycross Championship in a cold, icy weekend in Belgium. Bakkerud who turned 30 fought hard and won the title after not having a drive at the beginning of the season.

RX1

The first race of the weekend and it immediately had drama. Sivert Svardal went wide on lap three and then on the final lap in the joker he slammed the wall and took the suspension out. Also, the windscreen looked to be filled with dirt and the wipers were not working and looked impossible to see out of. 

Bakkerud however took the overall win by 0.949 seconds over Jonathan Pailler.

In Qualification two Bakkerud stormed to victory. Janis Baumanis lost his rear suspension. In race two Fabien Pailler made it to the end but lost massive time and Andrea Duborg retired.

Opening up with qualification three on Sunday, on his birthday, Bakkerud led, followed by Marvin Gagacki and Jonathan Pailler in third.

Moving into the semi finals, Paulius Pleskovas came in as first reserve with Stéphane De Ganay suffering too much damage at the end of Q4.

Semi Final One

Bakkerud lined up in pole as top qualifier, Gagacki alongside. Baumanis in third which could provide great support to Bakkerud. In fourth Rene Munnich. On the back row Mandie August and Pleskovas.

Bakkerud made a fantastic start to easily secure first position. Gagacki kept second and Munnich in third being hounded by Baumanis. 

Munnich and Pleskovas take an early joker while Baumanis goes to the inside of Gagacki over the jump and onto the inside to turn one to slot into second place/

August then jokered at the end of lap two and came out ahead of Pleskovas while Bakkerud kept pulling away. At the end of the fourth lap, August, who had been running an incredible race, went wide and clipped the wall, flipping the cars over. Fortunately she was OK and was out of the car. 

The corner was yellow flagged even though the Ibiza was in the racing line. Rene Munnich then stopped and pulled off even though in the position to get into the final but as the husband of August, he was clearly concerned.

Bakkerud took the win with Baumanis second and Pleskovas third.

Semi Final Two

Jonathan Pailler jumped the start in pole and as such had to take two joker laps. Brother Fabian Pailler next to him. Tamas Karai and Dariuz Topolewski with Hans-Joran Ostreng and Csucsu on the back row.

Karai comes from the second row straight through in between the brothers to lead the race. 

Topolewski takes an early joker as Fabian and Jonathan chase down Karai. The lead three continued to break away from the rest of the pack as Csucsu jokered to protect from Topolewski.

Karai took a second joker on the final lap to drop to third as Fabien Pailler took the win and Jonathan behind. 

This meant Bakkerud and Fabien Pailler were set to take on each other in the final to decide the European championship.

Final 

The moment now came. The entire 2021 championship came down to the final race of the season. Bakkerud and Fabien Pailler, the two drivers fighting for the championship. The tension could not be higher as the drivers went in with one point between them. Both drivers had their team mates behind them as rear gunners. 

The feeling of the 2019 WorldRX championship with the fight between Bakkerud and Timmy Hansen was felt again, this time could Bakkerud claim the win?

Both the lead drivers fire off the line and Bakkerud keeps the inside line and takes the lead from Fabien. 

Baumanis gets into third and splits the Pailler brothers.

Bakkerud, who did not have an entry at the start of the season, led Fabien by half a second in the ES Motosport Skoda.

Jonathan Pailler jokered and came out ahead of Karai and Pleskovas. 

Fabien Pailler jokered on lap four with Baumanis following. Fabien now had to hunt Bakkerud. 

Bakkerud does not respond and stays out on the standard lap confident of the pace.

Coming doesn’t the famous Eau Rouge Bakkerud jokered on the final lap and exited the joker ahead of Fabien securing the win and becoming the 2021 FIA European Rallycross Champion on his 30th birthday.

Fabien Pailler takes second in the championship and Baumanis takes third in the race and championship.

After finishing the celebratory doughnuts Bakkerud said “This is absolutely crazy. You know what,this is a big thank you to ES motorsport, Monster energy and all the Bakkerud Blue partners. It wasn’t looking like this before the season started”

RX3

Jan Cerny retired on the first lap of practise but made it back out in qualification. 

In qualification two Marat Knyazev was on two wheels and drove over Belevskiy in turn one in a crazy start to the race.

Into qualification three and Belevskiy along with Knyazev were in the lowest group. They were given a 12 second penalty due to contact in the previous qualification. 

Semi Final One

The start of the finals in the penultimate round of RX3 started with Belevskiy on pole and his rival Kobe Pauwells alongside. Damian Litwinowicz and Jiri Susta on row two with Marcel Suchy on the back row.

Belevskiy and Pauwells dragged race into turn one and Litwinowicz and Pauwells battled for second place. Pauwells manages to slot in behind Belevskiy, Litwinowicz in third and Susta fourth while Suchy jokered on lap one.

On lap two. Susta jokered to get the undercut on Litwinowicz. Pauwells then jokered and Pauwells came out just behind Litwinowicz securing second place.

Belevskiy takes the joker on lap five to cover Pauwells and take the opportunity of Pauwells and Litwinowicz fighting for second.

Across the line Litwinowicz came in third. Pauwells in second and Belevskiy in third. 

Belevskiy said after the race “I had a good result. I had a good start, I think this is one of the most important things.”

Semi Final Two

Knyazev lined up in pole with Cerny in P2. Clement Picard and Per Magne Egebo-Svardal on row two with Radoslaw Raczkowski on the back row.

Knyazev launches into the lead with Cerny slotting in behind . Contact behind which pushed Svardal wide and Raczkowski got turned round and flew across off the track. Both drivers then jokered early to make time up.

Knyazev was out in front with Cerny not too far off the pace. Picard then jokered on lap two while Cerny jokered on lap three securing second place.

Knyazev jokered on lap four keeping first place comfortably.

Svardal had damage on the car and was unable to make the corners but carried on as far as he could.

Knyazev took the win with Cerny in second and Picard in third.

Final

The 1600cc screaming machines lined up for the final race of the European championship weekend with home drivers in the final.

Knyazev makes a fast start but can’t beat Belevskiy to turn one. Cerny turns into Pauwells and puts Pauwells onto two wheels and not sits in fifth then goes to the joker to get clear air and make back time.

Belevskiy and Knyazev are separated by 0.2 seconds as they both fly down Eau Rouge and onto the dirt.

On lap three they make a gap from Cerny in second and Knyazev follows Belevskiy.

On lap four Knyazev goes into the joker with Cerny behind as not he hunts  Belevskiy for the undercut. 

The only car to not have jokered is Belevskiy as Pauwells still sits in fifth.

Belevskiy immediately jokered and still managed to come out ahead of Knyazev by less than a second. Across the line Belevskiy takes the win by 0.357 seconds ahead of Knyazev with Cerny in third.

Image Credits: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

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