The beginner's guide to World Rallycross

“Kill all tires.”

It’s a bumper sticker on the back of the Hoonigan cars that compete in the FIA World Rallycross Championship series. It’s more than a bumper sticker or a pithy adage, though. It’s a philosophy for the whole series.

The Series

The FIA World Rallycross Championship is a relatively new rally racing series that kicked off in 2014. It’s not to be confused with Global Rallycross, which, despite its name, is held only in the United States. The World RX is truly a world event, with races in Canada, Argentina, and throughout Europe. World Rallycross also shouldn’t be confused with stage rally, which takes place on long road/off-road courses and involves a co-driver to act as a navigator.

World Rallycross includes 12 races and is headlined by the RX Supercar class. The 2016 season started in April in Portugal and concludes in November in Argentina. This past weekend, I attended the seventh race of the series, the Grand Prix De Trois-Rivieres (GP3R) in Trios-Rivieres (French for Three Rivers), Quebec, a couple hours outside of Montreal, to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of this unique form of racing.

At the G3PR, the main RX Supercars were supported by the lesser RX Lites cars, as well as AMA Supermoto motorcycles, Formula Drift Canada, and Canadian UTV Rallycross. At many of the European venues, the series also runs alongside the European Rallycross Championship.

The Cars and drivers

The cars in the RX Supercar class are versatile racing machines. They feature turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines that put out 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque.  Manual transmission must be used. Total weight is limited to 2866 pounds, including the driver. With the power put to all four wheels, these hottest of hot hatches can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, which is even faster than a Formula 1 car. The RX Lites cars use the same basic setup but they only make 310 horsepower.

All of the cars are based on factory models, mostly subcompacts with some compacts as well. They are pure race cars, though, with full roll cages, sparse interiors, modified structures, unique aerodynamic body panels, and big rear wings. Full factory involvement is the norm for these cars. 

On the track, the RX Supercars can do things most other race cars can’t. They have to gain traction on tarmac and dirt, have the suspension travel to survive jumps, and be at home drifting and sliding, as well as carving a line through a turn.

Rallycross traces its roots back to the late 1960s in Europe and it soon gained popularity in the Scandanavian countries. The majority of the drivers are from Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and many of them are quite accomplished. The driver of interest to most Americans, though, is gymkhana king Ken Block and his Hoonigan racing team. Driving a new Ford Focus RS RX, Block is currently 13th in the standings, but his Hoonigan teammate, the Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud is third overall. Norwegian Petter Solberg currently leads the standings and is defending his 2015 title.

Source link