Sunday, May 19, 2024

Andreas Bakkerud replaces Kovalainen at JBXE

Andreas Bakkerud only spent one round as Extreme E’s Championship Driver before finding himself competing for a championship. On Monday, JBXE announced he will replace Heikki Kovalainen in the #22 for the remainder of the 2023 season starting at this weekend’s Hydro X Prix.

Bakkerud is a rallycross star who competed in the World, European, and Nitro Rallycross Championships, winning the 2021 ERX Supercar title. He finished runner-up in the 2019 World RX points battle, while his most recent campaign in Nitro RX ended with a second-place Group E finish and two wins.

He was named a Championship Driver at Extreme E for the 2023 season opener in Saudi Arabia, whose duties consisted of being the test and reserve driver if necessary. He began his involvement with the series shortly after its unveiling in 2019 as a member of the “Drivers’ Programme” for prospective drivers, and was therefore among the first to test the Spark ODYSSEY 21.

“From testing the car in France in the beginning to stepping in as the Championship Driver in Saudi Arabia learning all about the car and the Championship, it’s fantastic to continue being a part of this journey,” said Bakkerud. “I love what Extreme E is all about, especially their environmental initiatives, how it champions their actions against climate change, and in general, the whole race for the planet ethos, which is also something we in Norway are huge advocates of.”

His arrival adds to an already very heavy rallycross presence in Extreme E that includes former World RX rivals Timmy Hansen and Johan Kristoffersson, while Bakkerud’s Championship Driver predecessor Timo Scheider raced against him in Nitro RX at the 2022/23 season finale in Glen Helen. JBXE owner Jenson Button also did a Nitro RX event at ERX last October.

“Being back in the Extreme E paddock, I look forward to racing with such a great group of drivers, many who I’ve raced against before, I even drove for Mattias (Ekström),” he continued. “I have never been to Scotland before so I’m excited to visit a new place; I’ve heard it’s an extreme track. I can’t wait to get stuck in and immerse myself in the local culture, definitely some of their local snacks.”

He will partner up with fellow Norwegian driver Hedda Hosås, herself a former reserve before becoming a full-time driver. Bakkerud described, “It is my first time racing with a Norwegian so I am looking forward to teaming up with Hedda. I’m hoping we can cultivate a great working relationship and help each other both improve and succeed. For sure, it will take some time to get used to things, but I hope I can steer JBXE in the right direction.”

Kovalainen, a Formula One veteran and current rally driver, finished eighth and tenth in his Extreme E début at the Desert X Prix alongside Hosås. A reason for the driver swap was not given, though JBXE has cycled through multiple drivers since the inaugural season in 2021 with Bakkerud set to be the eighth different name.

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