Kevin Eriksson hit out at the driving standards of his Nitrocross rivals after multiple instances of contact ended his podium run at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix.
The Olsbergs MSE driver was in second behind Dreyer & Reinbold JC RX Cartel man Robin Larsson going into the final lap, where both were hit by Travis Pastrana, before Andreas Bakkerud sent him climbing up a bank after making contact going into Turn 3.
Pastrana’s contact with the lead pair came in after closed in on the pair in the second turn, both being slowed by point man Larsson’s puncture
“Even if he has a puncture, Robin is leading, he dictates the pace,” Eriksson said after the final. “For me Travis overshot it way too hot — that’s a penalty every day of the year, and what Bakkerud did, it’s a hundred times worse than a penalty.”
Remaining on Vermont SportsCar driver Pastrana’s tail going into the next turn — a 90-degree left-hander through the gap of the jump that follows Turn 1 — Bakkerud attempted a pass up the inside of Eriksson. The move resulted in a collision, with Eriksson being fired up the track-lining dirt bank.
“For me, it’s one of the worst things I’ve seen on a rallycross track,” said Eriksson. “He doesn’t do anything [except] just trying to take me off.
“You see how much later Bakkerud brakes. He’s not even close to managing the corner. Not even close. There’s a reason why he’s not respected by the top drivers in Europe and the top drivers here. There’s a reason.”
After an impassioned and expletive rant where he hit out at the series’ all-electric cars, Bakkerud shared his side of the story, blaming the car’s electric power steering for him being unable to avoid the collision, and suggesting his frustration was less about the contact, and more to do with his winless streak which now sits at six races — his longest in the series to-date
“I had the fastest lap time but it’s so hard to predict everything out there. I should be happy with third but I’m still bummed that I can’t win,” said Bakkerud. “He hit my steering and the steering just popped out of my hands and we both ended up way up there.”
Eriksson and Bakkerud also collided in a semifinal earlier in the day. Qnigan/Nitrocross
After reflecting, Bakkerud walked back his stance, saying, “I will say I’m sorry — what I said earlier was in the heat of the moment. I gave some s*** there, but at the same time, there’s lots of stuff going on and I just want to win like everybody else and these guys are so good at this stuff and it takes a lot .
“There’s nothing you can do with electric power steering. When you hit wheel to wheel, it just snaps. It does what it wants, you can’t hold it.”
The final collision between Eriksson and Bakkerud was their second of the day, with both coming together in the second semifinal on the Joker merge. While admitting he had concerns about the joker merge before taking to the track, Eriksson suggested there may have been intent on Bakkerud’s part to collect him once they both hit.
“The most dangerous thing is Bakkerud when he’s spinning in the middle of the track and stopping there,” Eriksson said. “He would have spun either way, but he made sure to spin in the middle of the road so all of us others couldn’t really avoid him. That’s the most dangerous thing.”