Preview: Exciting season ahead for World RallyCross
- 30th March 2017, 2:43am
Since its inaugural season in 2014, the FIA World RallyCross Championship has gone from strength to strength. The brand-new season, set to start in Spain this weekend, should be no exception.
Featuring cars with 600 horsepower, and with the ability to go from 0-100kph faster than a Formula One car, who wouldn’t be excited to see this jam-packed sport?
The format is relatively difficult to get your head around with several heats, two semi-finals and a final, but the essential thing is – every race counts!
The racing is tight too, with seven different winners and 11 different people sharing the podium throughout 2016.
Reigning champion, Mattias Ekstrom, will be campaigning the same car with the same championship winning team in 2017.
His Audi S1 took him to four wins before clinching his maiden title at the penultimate round in Germany.
Ekstrom will be paired with another Audi driven by Finn, Toomas Heikkinen.
Perhaps the biggest move in the off season is Petter Solberg’s move to drive a Volkswagen.
The three-time FIA World Champion has joined forces with Johan Kristoffersson, building an ominous partnership.
Kristoffersson finished second in 2016, and Solberg, still at the top of his game, will launch an all-out attack for the title.
Their Volkswagen Polo GTi, backed by Monster Energy, will form the backbone of the newly formed PSRX Volkswagen World RX Team Sweden.
Nine-time World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb, joins the field for another ‘crack’ at the title after a fifth-place title finish in 2016.
Still behind the wheel of a Peugeot, Loeb will try to add to his solitary win (Latvia 2016) and be in the thick of the championship battle.
Again, partnering Loeb will be Swede Timmy Hansen.
American Ken Block will bring the Hoonigan Racing Division back for another year with the Ford Focus RS RX.
However, Block will likely play second fiddle again to teammate Andreas Bakkerud, who won three events in the 2016 season on his way to third in the championship.
In a rather different but exciting vehicle choice, Kornel Lukacs moves up to the headline World Championship to compete full-time in Gigi Galli’s Kia Rio RX Supercar.
Guy Wilks is set to partner with LOCO Energy Drink in his first season of World RallyCross to drive a VW Polo GTi, similar to the one driven by Solberg and Kristoffersson.
He will be the sole Brit on the grid for much of the season.
Niclas Gronholm, the 20-year-old son of two-time World Rally Champion Marcus, will compete in his second season of World RallyCross, but will arguably be better equipped after gaining plenty of experience in 2016, including winning the Finnish RallyCross title.
This weekend will be the first time in which Barcelona will host the first round, after moving from its mid-season slot.
The Circuit de Barcelona will provide a great opening for the 12-round season which will visit: Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Canada, France, Latvia, Germany and South Africa.
We’re yet to decide on a winner, but it promises to be a long and exciting season.
For more information, visit the official website.
- Luke Whitten
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