2014 seems to be a year of change in Motorsport with many championships using new rules for the first time or attracting new drivers and returning big name drivers and new manufacturers.
Now I'm going to concentrate on two series that have attracted more interest this year because of current rules. One is the UK's biggest domestic series The British Touring Car Championship, whilst the other is the new formed FIA World Rallycross Championship. In this post, I'll be writing about the new FIA World Rallycross Championship.
Now last year, what was the FIA European Rallycross Championship reinvented itself as RallycrossRX, maintaining its Supercar rules using cars that are 4 wheel drive using 2 litre turbocharged engines that produce 600bhp plus. Allied with a 1 hour highlights programme that was shown on satellite channel British Eurosport showcasing the Supercar, Touring Car and S1600 catergories, this proved an instant hit with the action being fast, frantic and exciting.
What also proved successful were the drivers that were attracted to the series. Former WRC Champion Petter Solberg, Timmy Hansen, son of Rallycross legend Kevin Hansen, Gymkhana star Tanner Foust and the UK's own Liam Doran, son of Rallycross legend Pat Doran were just a few that took part during the season whilst one off guest appearances from 9 time WRC Champion Sebastian Leob and former DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom further ramped up the profile of the Championship during the season.
Along came September and the FIA World Motorsport Council decided that the European Championship would become an FIA World Championship in 2014 using the same rules package but expanding the series from 9 rounds in 2013 to 12 rounds in 2014. The European Championship would remain over a 5 round series held at the same events in Europe as the World Championship. Eurosport announced that it would upgrade its coverage at 8 of the events as live whilst delayed highlights would cover the other 4 rounds.
WorldRX was born.
The response for the 2014 World RX season has been phenomenal...
First of all there has been Manufacturer Support confirmed from 3 different makes: Ford, Peugeot and Volkswagen. Ford will support the Swedish OMSE team, Peugeot will support Hansen Motorsport whilst VW are supporting Marklund Motorsport.
Then there are the driver lineups already confirmed showcasing some amazing motorsport talent. 1997 F1 Champion Jacques Villeneuve has confirmed he will join British WorldRX team Albatec Racing Boss Andy Scott in a two car team running Peugeot 208's. Anton Marklund is joined at the VW Marklund Motorsport team by Global Rallycross Star Topi Heikenen whilst Tanner Foust will contest several rounds for the team also. Andreas Bakkerud and Reiniss Nitiss are both confirmed at the Swedish Ford OMSE team for the full season, being joined by 2013 British Touring Car Champion Andrew Jordan for the UK round at Lydden Hill only. Liam Doran is returning with a two car team whilst Petter Solberg has expanded to a two car effort with Alexander Hvaal joining him. Johan Kristoffersson is joining the series full time driving a VW built by VW Dealer Team Sweden.
Thats another point in the benefit of the European Championship becoming a World Championship, where teams are expanding from single car lineups in 2013 to multiple car lineups in 2014 and attracting Manufacturer support in the process as a Teams Title has been created for 2014. Now the teams can go for glory with two drivers where as last year there was only the outright Drivers Title to be won.
Whilst the coverage is mostly live this year, the series is expanding from 9 events to 12 with rounds from Argentina, Turkey and Canada being included in the calendar which opens the championship up to more viewers and also get more coverage to local talent to compete on home soil as well as the World Stage.
But what is the big pull is that the regulations havent changed and that last year the championship pulled in big figures for both Television and Online viewership and crowd figures from the venues themselves. People were flocking to these two day events where there is plenty of non stop action taking place with the various heats and finals taking place. The fans get the oppurtunity to meet the drivers and teams closeup, getting autographs and a chance at seeing the Supercars closeup that compete in the championship whilst Social Media has been a big move with lots of the competing drivers and teams using Twittet, Facebook and the like to give updates on Car Progress and Driver signings.
So in conclusion, the reason behind Rallycross RX becoming World RX is simple: the upgrade of the series to a World Championship with no change in regulations has increased peoples participation and grown the series further in terms of Entrants, Calendar and Coverage allowing the fans to get involved first hand and closeup.
Now, this year theres plenty going on with new rules and new entrants in such series as Formula One, World Touring Car Championship, The DTM, The British Touring Car Championship, The World Endurance Championship and V8 Supercars... But if you fancy something different to watch in motorsport terms, I recommend the FIA World Rallycross Championship or WorldRX.