World Rallycross Championship: The new era is beginning in 2019
The sixth season of the FIA World Rallycross Championship kicks-off this weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Yas Marina Circuit is one of two new venues on the World RX calendar, together with iconic Spa-Francorchamps that will host the third round in the ten-event schedule.
New venues, new teams and drivers, and new rules are marking a new beginning for the world’s premium rallycross competition following an exodus of factory-supported teams from the championship at the end of 2018.
However, the championship survived without factory teams and without major players that clinched world titles in the previous seasons. For 2019, sixteen full-time drivers from eleven nations are announced as competitors, representing eight car manufacturers.
Since its inception in 2014, World RX has visited Europe, Asia, North and South America. Now, the Middle East is added to that list. The World RX of Abu Dhabi will also be the first time that event has been held at night with the semi-finals and final on Saturday evening run under floodlights. The event will take place at the purpose-built 1.2-kilometre rallycross layout featuring 63 percent asphalt and 37 percent gravel, a series of wide tarmac areas, tight turns including a hairpin and a formidable jump, all within the circuit’s famous Formula One circuit stadium section.
There are some new rules introduced for the 2019 season. The most significant change to the sporting regulations is the grid order from Q2 onwards. Q1 will be dictated by the pre-race draw, but for Q2, and Q3 the race order can be reversed by a random draw. At each event, a Driver Assistant to Stewards will be present. A number of experienced rallycross drivers will take up that role, starting with Tommy Rustad this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
The 2019 entry list features 16 permanent drivers in six teams and four individual entries. None of the permanent drivers have won an FIA World Championship title, meaning we will crown a new FIA World RX drivers’ champion this year.
The Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud is the best-placed starter from the last year when he finished third in the overall standings. In 2019, he will continue to drive Audi S1, joining new team Monster Energy RX Cartel. His teammate would be Briton Liam Doran. The third Audi driver will be Hungarian Krisztian Szabo who will represent Mattias Ektrom’s team EKS.
The Hansen brothers, Timmy and Kevin, who raced previously with factory support from Peugeot, will continue to drive Peugeot 208s for Team Hansen, establishing a new partnership with Max Puchers’ MJP Racing Team Austria.
Austria will be represented also by Team STARD that will campaign the all-new Ford Fiesta for Latvian Janis Baumanis. He will be partnered by Norwegian Pal Try in the first round. Later during the season, Finnish drivers Jani Paasonen and Jere Kalliokoski will also drive STARD’s second car.
The French team GC Kompetition is entering the championship with four cars, running Renault Meganes for experienced Antun Marklund and team owner Guerlain Chicherit, and Renault Clios for rookies Cyril Raymond and Guillaume De Ridder.
Britain’s Oliver Bennett announced the full-time campaign in the Xite Racing Mini Cooper. The former DTM champion Timo Scheider is entering his second full-time season, extending cooperation with Münnich Motorsport to drive a Seat Ibiza. The Lithuanian Rokas Baciuska is the least experienced of this season’s rookies but as reigning Euro RX Super 1600 champion, he definitely has high ambitions in the Supercar class with ESmotorsport’s Škoda Fabia.
2019 World Rallycross Championship entry list
|Monster Energy RX Cartel||Audi S1||13||Andreas Bakkerud|
|Monster Energy RX Cartel||Audi S1||33||Liam Doram|
|EKS Sport||Audi S1||123||Krisztian Szabo|
|Team Hansen MJP||Peugeot 208||21||Timmy Hansen|
|Team Hansen MJP||Peugeot 208||71||Kevin Hansen|
|GRX Taneco Team||Hyundai i20||7||Timur Timerzyanov|
|GRX Taneco Team||Hyundai i20||15||Reinis Nitiss|
|GRX Taneco Team||Hyundai i20||68||Niclas Gronholm|
|Team STARD||Ford Fiesta||6||Janis Baumanis|
|Team STARD||Ford Fiesta||5||Pal Try|
|Team STARD||Ford Fiesta||3||Jani Paasonen|
|Team STARD||Ford Fiesta||TBA||Jere Kalliokoski|
|GC Kompetition||Renault Megane||36||Guerlain Chicherit|
|GC Kompetition||Renault Megane||92||Anton Marklund|
|GCK Academy||Renault Clio||96||Guillaume De Ridder|
|GCK Academy||Renault Clio||113||Cyril Raymond|
|All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport||Seat Ibiza||44||Timo Scheider|
|Xite Racing||Mini Cooper||42||Oliver Bennett|
|Esmotorsport-Labas GAS||Škoda Fabia||14||Rokas Baciuška|