About FIA World Rallycross Championship
Rallycross is head-to-head short, sharp racing on mixed surfaces (dirt and asphalt) contained within amphitheatre venues.
High-profile drivers are equipped with RX Supercars with over 600bhp and the ability to accelerate from 0-60mph in less than two seconds – faster than an F1 car.
World RX debuted in 2014 with a 12-round calendar and included events in Argentina, Canada and throughout Europe. Formula One venues in Germany (Hockenheim) and Spain (Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona) are both used to host World RX rounds and in 2016, there will be an all-new city race in Riga, Latvia. Race meetings are normally run over two days and include four separate qualifying sessions, two semi-finals and one final.
From humble beginnings, the sport has now grown to become a breath-taking global spectacle, capable of attracting massive superstars such as Sebastien Loeb, Ken Block – and of course Petter Solberg.
Rallycross essentially started when the 1963 RAC Rally was cancelled due to foot and mouth disease, meaning that suddenly there was a load of rally cars all with nowhere to go. Faced with a gap in their schedules, BBC Television suggested a new concept: a rally-style event based around Brands Hatch (which formed part of the original RAC route) and its car parks. Many of the factory teams were persuaded to take part and it was then, effectively, that rallycross was born – although it was never known as such. It was just a hastily-found way to solve a problem.
Instead, the first proper rallycross event took place at Lydden Hill – where Petter will be getting his campaign underway this year – on February 4, 1967. Straight away it proved to be a huge hit, and the things that made it popular back then are still true now. It’s the perfect arena sport, guaranteeing great action for both the live audience and for TV viewers.
And there’s no shortage of spectators. In France, for example, around 50,000 fans turn up every single day and even in the tiny town of Holjes, Sweden, there are no less than 30,000 spectators each day. Back in the 1980s the television audience used to be literally millions of people.
Those days are coming again. The championship’s worldwide promoter, IMG Media, has secured a 10-year deal with world motorsport’s governing body, the FIA (Federation International d’Automobile) to move the sport forward. In the past they also looked at promoting the WRC – and IMG is convinced that rallycross (now rebranded Rallycross RX) has even greater potential.
Already the effects are being felt, as the growing list of global television partners shows. Energy drink giant Monster is also on board as a sponsor, underlining how the profile of the sport is getting bigger all the time – and appealing to a young and dynamic audience. There’s no jealousy among energy drinks as Red Bull is sponsoring a car too, with all the major brands in the world seemingly queuing up to get involved, thanks also to the success of extreme events such as the X Games in the United States.
The concept of rallycross is very easy to follow. Each meeting begins with five heats, with five cars in a row starting every heat. These heats boil down to two semi-finals and then a grand final, providing perfectly packaged entertainment that can be brought close to major population centres all over Europe. At a glance, people can instantly see what’s going on all over the circuit, with a thrilling calendar of nine events scheduled for this year. Every single one of them is designed to put the spectator first.
With excitement, user-friendliness and accessibility, European rallycross is all set to become the next big thing in world motorsport.
2015: Petter Solberg (NOR)
2014: Petter Solberg (NOR)
|Great Britain||PETTER SOLBERG||Citroën||Norway|
|Great Britain||Andreas Bakkerud||Ford||Norway|