Spirits are high amongst the teams ahead of the World Rallycross Championship season, due to kick off in Portugal next month.
Olsbergs MSE and Monster Energy squads took part in a pre-season test during a Media Day held at Lydden Hill last week. The Swedish team, having slayed the opposition in last year's US-based Global Rallycross Championship, have undergone some dramatic changes over the winter months, including an all-new driver line-up comprising Andreas Bakkerud, Reinis Nitiss and the 'wild card' entry, reigning BTCC Champion, Andrew Jordan. Meanwhile Liam Doran is going to expand his team, fielding additional cars for Krzysztof Skorupski and Derek Tohill.
Creating the perfect driver
Olsbergs' Team Principal, Andreas Eriksson said: “I have two new drivers. I need to teach them a lot. Bakkerud obviously is a winner, so I will try to make him as good as possible. The goal is to make the car good, so they have everything they need to be able to win.”
The ambitious Swede added: “My goal is to be in the top three.”
Andres Bakkerud shared his boss’ enthusiasm: “It was a long winter. It's good to come to the UK now and do the first test with the new car. Everything is new and it's just a great feeling. Like a virgin trip.”
“It will be very hard. My goal is to be in the top, fighting for the championship titles and I think I'm one of the best contenders.” he concluded confidently.
Even more ecstatic was the reigning British Touring Car Champion and rallycross returnee, Jordan, who declared: “Feels like coming home a bit. That's where I started back in 2004. I'm really happy to be back, looking forward to the event. Such a good car, such a good team and such a good brand – I'm really pleased.” As well as being scheduled for a one-off appearance in the British round of the Series, the Brit also serves as a driver coach for his team-mates.
Explaining Jordan’s role, Eriksson said: “He helps all the drivers to think smart on the tarmac side. The perfect rallycross driver is like Marcus Gronholm or Sebastien Loeb. They are fast on gravel and fast on tarmac. That's what I'm trying to create – the perfect driver.”
On the other side of the paddock were the Monster Energy World RX Team and its sinister looking Citroen DS3 Supercar.
“We've made a lot of big improvements this winter. We know we have more speed. We have to just find out how much more speed everybody else has. We have a completely different philosophy of how to make a car go faster to the Fords at the moment. Even last year we were always looking and sounding different, but we were normally faster.” – admitted Team Principal and lead driver Liam Doran.
Both teams will face tough opposition from a number of factory-backed outfits in what, arguably, is going to be the most competitive rallycross season ever.