Andreas Bakkerud will replace Heikki Kovalainen at Jenson Button’s JBXE team for the remainder of the Extreme E season, starting with this weekend’s Hydro X Prix in Scotland.
Kovalainen made his debut in the all-electric off-road series last time out at the Desert X Prix in Saudi Arabia, driving alongside Hedda Hosas for the 2009 Formula 1 world champion’s team, and helped the outfit to a best result of eighth place across that event’s two championship rounds.
The 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix winner was most recently in action in the Japanese rally championship. He contested the Kumakogen Rally last weekend in a Skoda Fabia R5, winning every stage en route to his third-straight Japanese rally victory.
Bakkerud, meanwhile, served as one of the series’ reserve drivers in Saudi Arabia. The 2021 European Rallycross champion and 2022-23 Nitro Rallycross runner-up was one of the first drivers to test Extreme E’s Odyssey 21 race car, sampling the car at Chateau de Lastours in France in 2020. However, he has yet to feature in the series.
“I’m super excited to be announced as a competing driver for JBXE,” said Bakkerud. “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.
“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.”
With Hosas remaining at JBXE, Bakkerud will form one half of an all-Norwegian driver lineup, and first not just for the series, but him too.
“It is my first time racing with a Norwegian so I am looking forward to teaming up with Hedda,” said Bakkerud. “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.”
Bakkerud will be the third champion rallycross driver to take the team’s male driver spot after Kevin Hansen — who replaced Button from the second round of the 2021 season — and Fraser McConnell, who subsequently replaced Hansen for last year’s finale before moving onto Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing team for this year.
“I am thrilled and honored to welcome Andreas Bakkerud to JBXE for the next round of the season in Scotland,” said Button. “Andreas’ off-road racing pedigree speaks for itself, and his experience will be invaluable in our new all-Norwegian partnership alongside Hedda in the team as we look to kickstart our 2023 campaign.”