Big manufacturer presence Silverstone hosts UK round ● ●
Full preview to the new FIA World Rallycross season
THE World Rallycross Championship (World RX) blasts back into action at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona this weekend, following a winter of big announcements as manufacturers step up their involvement in the fast-paced, mixed-surface motorsport discipline.
Swede Johan Kristoffersen, the series’ reigning champion, forms part of an unchanged line-up at Petter Solberg’s PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team. The all-conquering Polo has been further refined for 2018, but Kristoffersen sounded a note of caution at the season launch, recalling how close his margin of victory was several times last year.
Peugeot has long had a presence in rallycross in collaboration with the family-run Swedish outfit Team Hansen, but following the conclusion of its Dakar programme, the full weight of Peugeot Sport is now behind the effort, with rally legend Sebastien Loeb and young charger Timmy Hansen on driving duty.
Elsewhere, 2016 World RX champion Mattias Ekstrom made the decision over the winter to retire from DTM touringcar racing and focus solely on Audi Sport’s expanded S1 rallycross effort.
“To be runner-up in both last year was disappointing,” he said. “I first thought I’d focus on DTM, but when I saw the new car and learned Andreas [Bakkerud] would be my team-mate, I realisedsed my heart pumps more for rallycross.”s.”
Ford will have a presence on the 2018 World RX grid, too, although ugh not in a full manufacturer capacity, ty, with the Swedish Olsbergs MSE team fielding a pair of Fiestas for Kevin Eriksson and Robin Larssen. en.
Also present will be rally veteran an Marcus Gronholm’s GRX Taneco Team, which has developed EX-WRC Hyundai i20 chassis for rallycross s use. Russian Timur Timerzyanov and Gronholm’s son Niclas are driving. g.
Finally, there’s an all-new car on the grid for 2018 in the shape of the GCK Renault Mégane. Commissioned ioned from British motorsport engineering ering firm Prodrive by French driver Guerlain erlain Chicherit, the Mégane was designed gned from scratch to be the perfect rallycross llycross car, unlike the manufacturer entries, ies, which are adapted from rally cars. s.
It features an ultra-low centre of gravity, innovative inboard brakes s and a bespoke engine and gearbox. A two-car team composed of Chicherit and countryman Jerome Grosset-janin will pilot the groundbreaking car.
Following this weekend’s season opener in Spain, World RX visits Portugal and Belgium before touching down at the Silverstone circuit in Northants on 25 May as part of the new Speedmachine Festival event.
Subsequent rounds take place in Norway, Sweden, Canada, France, Latvia, the US and Germany, leading up to a season finale in South Africa.