Up until 2014, The European Rallycross Championship was the highest accolade in Rallycross circles to compete in and win. It started in 1973 and in 1979 Rallycross legend Martin Schanche won the first official FIA European Rallycross Championship.
Fast forward to 2013 and the series was reinvented as RallycrossRX, with a new promoter installed and increased media coverage. This move reignited interest in International Rallycross and this led to stars such as Tanner Foust, Ken Block and Petter Solberg joining the series. Russian Timer Timurzyanov beat off the competition to win his second EuroRX title whilst interest soared for 2014.
With the creation of a World Championship in 2014, the EuroRX was scaled back to five events that ran on the same five weekends and locations as WorldRX events, allowing for privateers to fight for the title. This led to entry lists of at least 40 Supercars at events such as Lydden Hill in the UK, Estering in Germany and Holjes in Sweden... To name a few...
So why the increased popularity of a five event FIA European Championship and why the increased interest for for 2015?
Well... Let me enlighten you...
First of all, the biggest attraction are the regulations. Currently all of the major European Domestic Rallycross Championships use the Supercar regulations which are:
2 litre Turbo powered Supercars, engines capable of producing 600bhp in 4 Wheel Drive monsters that are capable of beating the current F1 cars off the line...
The best part is that if you are running, for example, a Mk2 Ford Focus in the British Rallycross Championship for a full season, the same car can be used in EuroRX/WorldRX events.
I should explain to avoid confusion that EuroRX events take place at the same venue and on the same weekend as WorldRX, giving the drivers a chance to race the works supported teams and other privateers from their own domestic championships with a chance at FIA Title glory.
Next, its the chance to race against the best in World Rallycross. This year, EuroRX saw such talent as Tanner Foust and Ken Block go up against the likes of Henning Solberg, Robin Larsson, Jerome Grosset-Janin, Tommy Rustad and Johan Kristoffersson with Larsson beating the competition and winning the FIA European Rallycross Championship in Italy on the same weekend that Petter Solberg won the World Rallycross Championship. Now because of this, Larsson has already announced his intention to take part in WorldRX in 2015.
Not only that but talents such Larsson, Kristoffersson and Grosset-Janin made it from the Heat stages at various events through to the Semi-Finals and even the Final, where in the UK Larsson finished second behind WorldRX regular Andreas Bakkerud whilst Kristoffersson made the podium in his Scandinavian VW Polo Supercar behind event winner Topi Heikkinen in the Works Supported VW Polo Supercar. (Although he was later disqualified...)
But its EuroRX of late that is garnering the interest from many drivers. Tommy Rustad has announced that he will campaign a VW-Marklund Motorsport built VW Polo Supercar for next years EuroRX instead of his usual Volvo C30 Supercar. 2014 French Rallycross Supercar Champion Fabien Pailler has also confirmed he will contest EuroRX 2015 in a Peugeot 208 WRX Supercar, a similar machine to the Albatec Racing and Hansen-Peugeots campaigned this year in WorldRX.
Another Rallycross regular looking to join EuroRX next year is Knut Ove Borseth who has announced plans to run a two car team under the banner 'Drive for Life RX' which caters for children who do not fit into the traditional education system and giving them experience within motorsport. The intention is to run two Mk2 Ford Focus' during the season.
Finally the third point of the enticement of EuroRX is the exposure a driver can recieve, both on track and off. Earlier in 2014 at Loheac in France, at the end of the first days action with Heats One and Two completed there were four different regular French Rallycross drivers inside the top 12. Jerome Grosset-Janin, Gaetan Serazin, Fabien Pailler and Christophe Wilt were all in the top places that, if they stayed there after Heats Three and Four, would have granted a place in the Semi-Finals or The Final. As it was Grosset-Janin was the only french driver who made it to the Semi's.
Theres also the explosion of social media thats followed the reinvention of RallycrossRX. Drivers and teams are now taking to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like to update fans with their progress over a weekend, any announcements regarding plans for the future and also give the fans a chance to interact with them.
Petter Solberg launched his own app that not only chronicled his 2013 EuroRX and also his WorldRX journey but also his sons journey as he makes his way through the ranks of Rallycross, learning the trade of offroad motorsport. So whether its Tweets or Apps, the fans can now follow the action even closer in Social Media, but it also allows the chance for teams and drivers to lure in new sponsors and offer more exposure.
For example, a driver contests an entire season in a Peugeot 208 WRX Supercar in the French Rallycross Championship, sponsored by a french company. However, that same driver also contests the five round FIA European Rallycross Championship which visits the UK, Germany, Norway, Belgium and Italy, allowing new markets and countries to see the sponsors on the car and the the other EuroRX cars. If that driver has a good weekend in the results, it opens up a new arena of possibilities for new sponsors which in turn allows progression to the WorldRX for the following year if thats the plan.
So its a huge benefit to Domestic Rallycross drivers who take part in EuroRX and its now clear to see why there is so much interest already in the series for next year.
Keep an eye on this one, 2015 is going to be a very competitive year for EuroRX.
All the best,