Andreas Bakkerud to sub for Piquet Jr. with SH Rallycross at X Games

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Both Nelson Piquet Jr. and Scott Speed have a conflict during the June 6 weekend with the two championships they race in, the Red Bull Global Rallycross and FIA Formula E. Speed will miss the FE race in Moscow to complete in Red Bull GRC’s X Games at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, while Piquet will tend to his FE commitments in Moscow and have a replacement in X Games.

As X Games is not part of the Red Bull GRC regular season, this will not impact Piquet’s standing in the championship.

As for his replacement in Austin? Read on to the release below, via SH Rallycross, for more information.

SH Rallycross announced today that Nelson Piquet Jr. will pass the No. 07 HYDROXYCUT – SH Racing Ford Fiesta ST machine to Andreas Bakkerud for the 2015 Austin X GAMES, June 6 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

The move was made because Piquet Jr., who earned a Bronze medal at the 2014 Summer X GAMES, is currently leading, but in a four-way battle for the Formula E crown with just three races remaining in the championship. The one-race hiatus will allow Piquet Jr. to compete in the Formula E event in Moscow, Russia.

“We’ve got an opportunity here to get behind Nelson and help give him the chance to do something special in going after the inaugural Formula E championship,” said James “Sulli” Sullivan, Principal SH Rallycross. “This won’t affect us in the Red Bull Global Rallycross championship standings so that’s what we’re going to do.”

Sulli went on to say, “The decision to bring in Bakkerud was a no brainer for us.  He’s one of the few drivers that knows the new 2015 spec car SH Rallycross is running like the back of his hand and he’s sitting third in the WRX championship.”

Bakkerud, 24 from Bergen, Norway, is one of the top and most experienced Rallycross drivers in the world. He has won the FIA European Rallycross Championship in the Super 1600 category twice (2011 and 2012) and currently competes in the FIA World Rallycross Championship Super Car category where he is third in the championship standings after the first four races.

“I have been in Rallycross my whole career,” said Bakkerud. “This is a big opportunity for me and I am very excited. I know Sulli and the team from spotting for Nelson in Barbados and the X GAMES last year and I am proud to be able to compete with SH Rallycross and am honored to be able to step in for Nelson at the X GAMES.”

Piquet Jr. said, “Rallycross has been in my heart since I’ve drove it for the first time. It’s been a little more than a year since I joined SH Rallycross and we continue to get stronger.  A few months ago I took another challenge, competing in Formula E and right now we have a chance to win the championship. Therefore, I’m not going to be able to take part in the wonderful event, the X GAMES! I’ll be in Moscow thinking about those amazing jumps and all those battles, but I’ll also be trying to win the first ever Formula E championship. Good luck to my boys and I’ll be back for Daytona even stronger.”

SH Rallycross had a break-out first season contending for the RedBull Global Rallycross Championship in its first year in the series with four consecutive podiums including the Bronze at the Summer X GAMES with Piquet Jr. behind the wheel. The team expects to make additional major sponsorship announcements including another Primary sponsor in the coming days.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.