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Around the world with the FIA World Rallycross

This year, 15 drivers from across the globe are set to compete in one of the most thrilling sports in the world – the FIA World Rallycross Championship. From the beautiful backdrop of Barcelona to the scorching sun of South Africa, the cars are set to zoom over asphalt and navigate the tricky gravel turns in an attempt to be crowned the winner.

Rallycross is described as a combination of both rally driving and circuit racing, with supercars speeding past at incredible speeds. The amalgamation of these two sports results in an intense, electrifying race in which drivers of the highest calibre compete head-to-head at some of the world’s most prestigious venues.

Since its conception in 1967, the sport has won the hearts of many fans thanks to its gripping tracks, unbelievable speeds and its talented drivers. Starting out as a segment on ITV’s World of Sport, rallycross has since won international acclaim and has firmly cemented itself as one of the sports to see, with fans in Belgium, France and Sweden. Spectators come from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the supercars and the FIA World Rallycross is undeniably the best place to do so.

Now in its sixth year, the FIA World Rallycross Championship is comprised of 12 two-day events at respected locations such as Silverstone, Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, Bikernieki National Sports Base and the Yas Marina Circuit. With points awarded to each place in the race, the drivers will navigate their way through the 4 qualifying heats before the top 12 cars enter the semi-finals, hoping to secure a place in the finals.

Watching the Rallycross is exhilarating, especially when you take into consideration that the supercars involved can go from 0-60 in under 2 seconds, faster than most F1 cars. According to the FIA website, these cars have “the addition of turbocharged, two-litre, 600bhp engines and four-wheel drive.” If you’re considering watching a leg of the race, find out more about each location with our helpful guide below.

Stage one: World RX of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit is an exciting hub for all things motorsport. As the United Arab Emirates premier sporting facility, this is an incredible setting for the FIA World Rallycross. Opened in October 2009, the venue is set just back from the Abu Dhabi coast on Yas Island, providing you with incredible views as you watch the supercars whip past you. On the island, you will also find a Ferrari theme park, a waterpark and a golf course, amongst other facilities.

2019 is the first time the FIA World Rallycross has been held in Abu Dhabi and its inaugural event happens to be the first on the calendar. In addition to the rallycross, the Yas Super Street Challenge drag racing will be taking place, as well as the Emirates Drift Championship. Once the racing is complete, Migos will take to the stage, providing a fantastic finish to the first event of the season.

Yas Marina Circuit

The Yas Marina Circuit is the first stop for the FIA World Rallycross Championship and there truly is no better location. From the gorgeous venue to the cheering crowds, the drivers will take on a track that is 63% asphalt and 37% unsealed. With a circuit length of 1.2km, this is an exciting race which makes the most of the purpose-built track, complete with a jump section, hairpin bends and wide tarmacked areas.

The 2019 race at the Yas Marina Circuit has already taken place, with Hansen finishing first in 4:39.467. Grönholm and Doran finished in second and third respectively, with the fastest lap undertaken by Nitiss in just 00:43.282

Stage two: Cooper tires World RX of Catalunya – Barcelona

This white-knuckle circuit has 25 years of history, meaning that a trip to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will not disappoint. This unique destination is sure to provide an incredible setting for round two of the FIA World Rallycross and fans of the Spanish F1 Grand Prix, the Catalan MotoGP Grand Prix and the Barcelona RX may already be familiar with the twists and turns that the track provides.

Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya

There’s nothing better than soaking up the sun, which will hopefully be out for those who head to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on the 27th-28th April. Over the past couple of years, this has been the first location for the FIA World Rallycross, celebrated at the annual Horse Power Festival, but 2019 sees it as the second stop on the tour.

The course is primarily asphalt, with the remaining 39.6% gravel. Drivers will have to maintain their grip as they make their way around a series of bends, making sure to avoid slipping in the traction-free gravelled areas. Last year’s winner, Bakkerud from Norway, completed the Barcelona course in 04:38.957, whereas the quickest lap was completed by Ekstrom in 00:43.379.

Stage Three: Spa World RX of Benelux

Known to be one of the most beautiful motorsports arenas, the concept of Spa-Francorchamps originated in 1920 at the end of the First World War. In the subsequent years, the track has undergone many changes, most recently the addition of new pits in 2007.  2019 marks the FIA World Rallycross’ first time at Spa-Francorchamps, and the variation in gradient, as well as the plethora of jumps, will make this race unforgettable.

Spa-Francorchamps

The Benelux leg of the championship makes the most of the purpose-built track whilst still including one of the most iconic corners in motorsport – Eau Rouge. The corner is known for being challenging, meaning that those partaking in the FIA World Rallycross here will have little margin for error.

Stretching for 913 metres, the track has a 15% gradient, an extra wide banked corner and parallel jumps. With a 60/40 split between asphalt and dirt, drivers will have to be extra vigilant with each surface switch.

Stage four: Dayinsure World RX of Great Britain

Great Britain is home to the rallycross, therefore the event which takes place at the iconic Silverstone track is expected to be unlike any other. The Great British leg of the event, which is set to feature British divers Liam Doran and Oliver Bennett, is sponsored by Dayinsure and is the fourth stage of the championship. As one of the most electrifying legs of the championship, the rallycross is part of the Speed Machine Festival which combines both music and esports with the adrenaline rush of the racing. With headliners, Sean Paul and Jax Jones, this year’s event features a plethora of exciting experiences which are sure to satiate adrenaline junkies. From hitting the tracks in the esport Dirt Rally 2.0 Arena to lapping the track as a passenger at the RacingLine, these white-knuckle rides are sure to fill you with excitement. 

The first rallycross event took place in Great Britain on February 4th, 1967 and was initially intended to be a one-day event. Arranged by the World of Sport’s Robert Reed, the race saw some of the biggest names in racing compete on a track that combined both asphalt and gravel surfaces. Soon after, the popularity of rallycross skyrocketed, with several similar races being arranged up and down the country. As a result of this, the FIA World Rallycross stage four sets to bring the sport home, ensuring a gripping event.

Silverstone

Silverstone is one of the country’s most iconic racing circuits. Situated at the border of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, the venue is the home of British racing so is the perfect place for the FIA World Rallycross to take place. The track has a colourful history as the home of the Grand Prix but also hosts Motor GP, classic car racing and rallycross.

First opened in 1947, the circuit has had many changes to it over the years in order to accommodate health and safety regulations. However, their most recent redevelopment in 2010 has been the most substantial yet. Once a World War II Royal Air Force bomber station, the location has been repurposed and the three runways can be found near to the outline of the present track.

Taking place over the weekend of 25th May, the track for the 2019 UK leg of the FIA World Rallycross is 0.972km long and sees the drivers tackle a course that is 40% asphalt and 60% dirt. Last year, saw some incredible competition. Although Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud won the course in just 04:01.758, the fastest lap was completed by Timmy Hansen from Sweden in 00:37.872.

The track is 60% gravel, meaning that the drivers will have to nail their handling talents whilst competing here. The large jumps provide the perfect opportunity for the supercars to showcase their 600bhp capabilities and viewing the track from the grandstands makes for an unrivalled atmosphere. According to the FIA World Rallycross Championship website: “As part of its title partnership, Dayinsure will provide a great selection of fun-fuelled activities for the tens of thousands at Silverstone, as well as assisting in boosting event promotion with creative initiatives.”

Stage five: World RX of Norway

Lånkebanen

The circuit at Hell is perfect for rallycross enthusiasts. The many twists and turns, including three left-hand corners are sure to challenge drivers’ abilities and the joker lap in the first corner brings a level of excitement to the race. With a 63/37% split between asphalt and dirt, the 1.019km circuit has an exciting level of different surfaces. Last years winner, Hansen, completed his fastest lap in 00:37.895 in his Peugeot 208, so 2019 looks to be equally as gripping.

Stage six: Swecon World RX of Sweden

Höljesbanan is one of the most impressive motorsports venues in the world, located in the quaint village of Holjes in Sweden. The venue debuted in 2014, with last year’s event attracting a crowd of 51,600 fans who celebrated rallycross with a weekend of music, food and fun!

Höljesbanan

Watch the rallycross drivers zoom around the bends at Höljesbanan, navigating the 60/40 asphalt and dirt track. With a length of just 1.21km, the circuit allows for fast-paced adventure and is sure to be a thrilling watch from start to finish. In 2018, Bakkerud completed the circuit in just 04:17.946, but the fastest lap went to Solberg with a time of 00:41.110.

Stage Seven: World RX of Canada

Situated in Quebec, the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres first opened in 1967 and since then has gone on to host some of the biggest events in North American racing. From NASCAR and Formula Drift to the FIA World Rallycross, this venue is inspired by Monaco street car racing, with regular modifications made to the track in order to keep races fresh and exciting.

Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres

1.37km long and another 60/40 split between asphalt and dirt, the Canada circuit at Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres is a real thrill. Won by Hansen in 2018 in just over 5 minutes, the shortest lap went to Solberg for 00:46.959. The Canadian course combines a portion of the 1967 street rallycross circuit with the 2014 hippodrome to make this a fantastic watch – one to tick off the rallycross bucket list thanks to its historical significance to the sport.

Stage eight: Bretagne World RX of France

With bike trails, a rallycross circuit and a go-karting track, the Lohéac circuit is France’s premier motorsport destination. The oldest circuit in France, it’s situated in Lohéac, a small village in Brittany that is home to just 658 inhabitants. However, the success of the motorsport venue can hold 80,000 spectators in its towering stalls.

Lohéac circuit

Be amongst the 80,000 other spectators as you watch the French leg of the rallycross. This popular location has a number of tricks up its sleeve, making this course one of the hardest to drive. Last year, Bakkerud took the win, completing the course in 03:45.127. However, the fastest lap was completed by Kristoffersson in a mere 00:35.994. Unlike many of the other courses in the rallycross, the Bretagne venue is primarily dirt, with just 33% of the race taking place on asphalt.

Stage nine: Neste World RX of Latvia

The Bikernieki is Latvia’s only permanent racing circuit, it therefore makes the perfect venue for the FIA World Rallycross. In fact, the track has undergone significant upgrades in order to host the event, which it has been since 2016. For the event to take place, Apex Circuit Design was employed to create the course, which features elements of the kart area, as well as the main straight.

Bikernieki National Sports Base

In the penultimate race, competitors will head to the Bikernieki National Sports Base for Latvia’s 1.294km long circuit. With a 60/40 split between asphalt and dirt, drivers will need to pay attention to the parallel jumps, particularly those in the joker section, as well as the gravel that runs through the pine tree forest. Drivers at this race will have to navigate the counter clockwise circuit with precision, especially with the eight left and four right-hand turns they need to take into consideration.

Stage ten: World RX of South Africa

The motor racing complex at Killarney was first opened in 1947 and has held South Africa’s biggest motorsports events ever since. Just 13 years after it opened, Killarney International Raceway was updated in order to comply with the FIA standard, holding its first championship race in the 1990s. The venue has been part of the FIA World Rallycross since 2017 and is an exhilarating end to the championships.

Killarney International Raceway

This November, the South African leg of the FIA World Rallycross will take place at Killarney International Raceway. Last year, the course was won by Kristoffersson, with Hansen completing the fastest lap in 00:39.778 in his Peugeot 208. The course has been described as fast-paced and action-packed, with drivers tackling everything the 1.060km course throws at them.

The switch from sealed to unsealed here is aimed to challenge the drivers whilst the joker lap encourages them to push themselves out of their comfort zone whilst attempting to merge back on track.