Tag Archives: rallycross

First-Turn Frustrations in the Global RallyCross [PLUS photo gallery]

The Global RallyCross series has provided some interesting competition for fans in the USA. These wildly powerful RX cars are something to behold, and this series now draws a highly competitive field.

As in rallying, if you hire a Finn you’ll win. Toomas Heikkinen has claimed two victories on the trot, winning all comers at this past weekend’s Atlanta Motor Speedway in style.

In fact, this was the fifth win (including event heats) for Toomas Heikkinen’s Global Rallycross career, with all five having come in the past five races. He is now tied with Marcus Gronholm for the all-time series win lead. With a 43-point lead, he can clinch the 2013 GRC Driver’s Championship by simply starting a race with 16 or fewer cars. To boot, this was the sixth win in seven races this season for OlsbergsMSE, who runs his Ford Fiesta ST.

There are only two rounds of the series left. Only Tanner Foust can match the Finn’s speed it seems. Not even Ken Block, who is showing the fastest lap times but unable to translate that into wins, is unable to keep pace. Block has a curse: each final of this season, he has been bumped, hit and taken out in the first turn, or suffers mechanical problems to sideline him. This past weekend saw him once again leading the pack in the heat races, but a mechanical problem on the startline saw him only complete one lap.

Another international rally driver to join this series is Patrick Sandell, also in an OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST. He has claimed a win this season, but is still getting to grips with this series and its first-turn shenanigans. David Higgins (Subaru Impreza for SRTUSA) has made a handful number of appearances in the series this season too, and shows his wealth of experience behind the steering wheel of a rally machine.

Photos: Newspress and Subaru Media USA.

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Sainz appearance at X Games Barcelona was rained out, but we love the look of that Polo!

The much anticipated outing by rally legend Carlo Sainz in the 600hp Volkswagen Polo R at the recent X Games had to be cancelled. After heavy rainfall over the last few days, the specially-erected circuit in Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium was so damp that, having been postponed on Sunday evening, the organisers had no choice but to cancel the rallycross race. Local favourite Sainz tried to console the fans who had flocked to the arena with a tweet on Twitter: “I am sorry for everyone. Thank you for coming.” The 51-year-old had prepared for his planned rallycross debut with test drives in a Volkswagen Polo. “El Matador” won the 2010 Rally Dakar for Volkswagen and is a national hero in Spain, due to his two World Rally Championship titles.

But this doesn’t mean we can’t drool over this beautiful-looking Polo!

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“Hollywood” heads for Hungary

He’s only been competing in rallycross since the start of this year – before then he only did it for fun, and that was back in 1996…. But Petter ‘Hollywood’ Solberg has already taken the FIA European Rallycross Championship by storm, going as far as the semi-final at round one in England before his power steering failed, and then reaching the final in round two in Portugal, breaking the Montalegre lap record in the process.

Now it’s time for round three of the nine-round series, which takes place at Nyirad in Hungary this weekend. ‘Hollywood’ is aiming firmly for the top step of the podium, having already shown his blistering speed on the first two rounds of the championship.

He’s done all this with a Citroen DS3 Supercar built from scratch in three weeks. And the work certainly hasn’t stopped there either. Since both the opening rounds, development has continued apace – Petter describes this year’s campaign as “the hardest thing I’ve ever done”. That obviously includes winning a World Rally Championship title…

17 May was a national holiday in Norway: known as the National Day of Norway or the Nasjonaldagen. It commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Norwegian constitution at Eidsvoll in 1814, and Norwegians celebrate it with party parades in traditional costume.

Petter and his team celebrated it with a test close to the Petter Solberg RX Team base in Sweden. Having worked hard on the car for weeks on end, concentrating on extracting the maximum possible performance, they have finally managed to find another 80 horsepower – which should make a big difference out on the track.

The Norwegian said: “First of all we concentrated on trying to get the reliability of the car right, then we wanted to improve the speed. We’ve been working so hard on both of these things and now I think we’re really getting somewhere. The main thing is that we’ve got another 80 horsepower and that’s going to make a big, big difference – especially when it comes to getting off the line. I can really feel it.”

Given that Petter’s pace already allowed him to finish eight seconds ahead of his nearest rival during the semi-finals in Portugal last month, the latest evolution of his DS3 Supercar is set to take Hungary by storm.

Petter-Solberg-image-two-

The Nyirad circuit is located in the south west of Hungary, 195 kilometres from Budapest and 185 kilometres from Vienna. It’s also very close to Lake Balaton, which is one of Hungary’s biggest tourist attractions. The 1.220-kilometre track is composed of 52% asphalt and 48% gravel, varying in width from 10 to 16 metres. It’s the only FIA-sanctioned off-road circuit in Hungary, which is hosting the FIA European Rallycross Championship for the seventh time in 2013.

All the events are of course observed by the FIA, and last year Nyirad scored the most combined points in the stewards’ and observers’ reports, making it officially the most popular round of the championship. The track has a bit of everything: a tight infield section on gravel combined with some faster straights and corners on asphalt.

“All the circuits are new to me so it doesn’t make any difference, but I’m looking forward to it all a lot,” said Petter, who tested for a day and a half before packing up the all-carbon car for Hungary. “Wherever we go we’ve had a lot of support from all the fans and with the latest things that we have on the car it should be a really good weekend. Whatever happens, everyone in our team should be very proud: we have a fantastic car now. And there is even more to come…”

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MINI and Prodrive want in on the Rallycross action

Prodrive has begun building the first MINI John Cooper Works RX which will compete in the X Games and Global Rallycross championship with Britain’s leading rallycrosser, Liam Doran.

Doran’s first outing with the Monster-backed MINI RX will be at the X Games in Barcelona on 18 – 19 May, followed by Munich in June, before the team heads to the USA for the Global Rallycross Championship and the Los Angeles X Games. In 2011, Doran secured a Gold medal in X Games 17 beating former World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm.

The MINI RX is closely based on the MINI John Cooper Works World Rally Car, but is being modified to make it competitive for Rallycross. In the first phase of development, the car’s 1.6-litre turbo engine will be remapped to run with the regulation 45mm restrictor (33mm on the WRC). This, combined with a larger intercooler and extra turbo boost, will increase power by 20 percent without any mechanical changes to the engine. A second development phase will bring a further 15 – 20 percent increase in power.

As the MINI RX will run with a 1600cc engine, it will benefit from a 90kg weight advantage over the two-litre cars. This means the car’s minimum weight with driver is 1,210kg compared to around 1,350kg for the MINI WRC with its two drivers. As a result, the MINI is being stripped of all the equipment and ancillaries required for rallying, such as the co-driver’s seat and instrumentation, tools, spare wheel, heater and protective undertrays. Lightweight bodywork is also allowed in Rallycross and Prodrive will introduce carbon fibre panels in phase two of the car’s development. The last major modification is to move the radiator to the inside rear of the car, as it is susceptible to damage at the front, with ventilation panels built into the rear doors.

“Having run the MINI non-competitively at the recent British Rallycross event at Lydden Hill at the new weight but with the WRC engine, we know it is already not that far off the pace of the Rallycross entries,” said Paul Eastman, Prodrive’s head of rally engineering. “With the initial extra power it should be a match for the two-litre cars on the short stadium tracks for the X Games in Barcelona and Munich and then there is more to come in time for the longer US events.”

The MINI’s strength is in its chassis and the fact it is the only Rallycross car to be evolved from a fully-engineered WRC.

Doran said: “When I drove the MINI WRC at Lydden you could immediately feel how good the chassis was, and while clearly it didn’t have the power I am used to, you could see that with some engine mods it would make a great Rallycross car. It will be great to be the first person to drive a properly works-engineered MINI RX and I think as such an iconic global brand, it will very quickly become a favourite of the fans on both sides on the Atlantic.”

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Solberg gives the green light to a new life in RallyCross

In record time former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg and his team has built a unique carbon-fibre car for RallyCross. The 38-year-old and his crew worked round the clock for two weeks to get the car ready in time for the first round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship in England, even sleeping in the workshop some. Now there is some important testing to carry out to prepare the brand-new carbon monster for a massive fight against some tough rivals.

Late on Monday, the car finally left Petter Solberg RX Team headquarters in Torsby, Sweden, for a test venue in France just outside Paris. The build of the car took exactly two weeks and one day, with the team working for at least 17 hours every day. Sleep was in short supply – and now there is the all-important test in France to get through. “It’s essential to get the car set up exactly the way we want it before next weekend’s races,” said Solberg before heading off to Paris.

The chassis and rollcage was made by Ingvar Gunnarsson Motorsports in Sweden, while Solberg’s chief engineer Simon Levett led the build of the car along with Petter Solberg himself. Bespoke parts have come in from all over the world, while a number of completely new solutions have been devised at home in Torsby. The bodyshell is made of carbon fibre, and lightweight materials have been used as much as possible inside the car. Everything is tailor-made and specifically customised to Petter’s Citroën, and this of course takes time. “So far it’s been absolutely amazing, with Simon Levett and our mechanics driving things forward. I feel so lucky to have such a fantastic team around me,” added the Norwegian. The team also recruited British engine guru Julian Godfrey to build the powerplant, which puts out nearly 600 horsepower.

The chosen test venue this week is the Circuit de l’Ouest Parisien Rallycross track, west of Paris. Once testing is over on Thursday, the Petter Solberg RX Team only has a three-hour drive to Calais and the ferry across the English Channel. Round one of the FIA European Rallycross Championship takes place at Lydden Hill in Wootton, between Dover and Canterbury in Kent, next Sunday and Monday. A new adventure begins, as Petter has never before taken part in the Supercar RX class. He can’t wait to begin.

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Solberg commits to full European Rallycross Championship

World Rally Champion Petter Solberg has confirmed he will contest every round of this year’s FIA European Rallycross (RX) Championship with the sole aim of lifting the 2013 title.

Solberg announced earlier this month that he would compete at the first round of the RX Championship in Britain next month, but the Norwegian superstar – known affectionately as Hollywood – is now set on storming Europe in his Citroen DS3 Supercar.

“I don’t do things by half!” said Solberg, who won the 2003 World Rally Championship. “When I thought about it, I knew the RX Championship was the one for me. It’s going to be one hell of a show this season and I want my team to be part of that.”

Solberg’s 600bhp Citroen DS3 Supercar is currently being built. But Hollywood will be more than ready when the lights go green at Lydden Hill in the UK on 31 March.

Said Solberg: “I am working pretty much every hour to get everything sorted out. Everything is looking really exciting right now. It’s fantastic to be back with my own team again. The car is really coming together and, to be honest, I really can’t wait to get behind the wheel. Having spent the last 15 years driving with 300 horsepower, having twice that power is something which really makes me smile!”

Working against the clock is nothing new to Solberg, who launched the Petter Solberg World Rally Team in a matter of weeks ahead of the 2009 WRC season – and then set the fastest time on his first stage with his own team. He’s looking for a similar debut when he starts his first RX Championship race at the end of next month.

“The competition is going to be really tough this year,” said Solberg, “but that’s one of the things which makes me want to compete here. And, hey, believe me, it will be some show. With me and the guys racing against each others doorhandles with 600 horsepower and flames flying – it’s going to be fantastic!”

Solberg added that the news that global sports media firm IMG Worldwide had taken over as promoter of the series made his move to RX even easier.

“Those guys know how to make the show,” he said. “We have five rounds of this year’s championship being shown live on television. And when three of those five live rounds are in Norway, Sweden and Finland – it makes complete sense for me to be competing here.”

The live television is shown by satellite broadcaster Viasat. The penultimate race in France and the season finale in Germany are the other events which will be live.

In addition to that live coverage, there will also be an hour-long report show and news coverage of the series which will ensure television content is delivered with a household reach in excess of one billion people around the world. The RX Championship will also feature in IMG’s global magazine series Trans World Sport, which boasts its own household reach of more than 150 million homes around the world.

While Hollywood is best known around the world for winning rallies and, the Solberg name has a long association with rallycross and Petter himself competed in the sport until 1995.

After watching Hollywood’s incredible rally-winning celebrations around the world – including the Historic Rally Sweden (driving his own Ford Escort) earlier this month – his global fan base will be eagerly awaiting a first RX victory in his stunning Citroen.

“It was fantastic to win in Sweden with my wife Pernilla,” said Solberg. “Driving a car like that really makes you understand why we all love our sport – it’s the noise, the passion and it’s the winning. And we’re looking forward to a lot more of all three of those in RX this year.”

FIA European Rallycross Championship 2013 Calendar:
Lydden Hill – Great Britain – 31.03.13
Montealegre – Portugal – 27.04.13
Nyriad – Hungary – 25.05.13
Kouvola – Finland – 08.06.13
Hell – Norway – 15.06.13
Holjes – Sweden – 16.07.13
Loheac – France – 31.08.13
Greinbach – Austria – 14.09.13
Buxtehude – Germany – 21.09.13

Photos: Courtesy of Tony Whelam.

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WRC

Petter Solberg to attack RallyCross flat-out for 2013!

The 2003 FIA World Rally Champion is creating his own RallyCross team to compete for further titles in 2013. Both in the series he and his team decide to tackle, as well as a heavy pursuit for Gold in the 4 Global X Games that are slated for this year.

“It feels a bit like getting back to my roots” Petter says. “My motorsport career started with RallyCross. I earned Silver medals in RallyCross and Hill Climb in Norway in 1994, Gold the two following years. Back then, in 1996, I actually considered the European RallyCross series for my longterm future but it turned out that Rally would pull me in. I devoted 15 years of my life to rally before calling an end to it in December last year. Some of the best years of my life.”

“I have received many offers to drive in various forms of motorsport, cars and teams since our announcement. However, I feel that the opportunities that the two major series are presenting from here on out starting in 2013 is the most progressive and coolest sport. It’s a place where I can be myself. Once again I can work closely with my sponsors, be very close to the fans, have my own team of qualified people, and be my own boss. It’s a great mix. Where else could I remain in a powerful awd turbo which is more or less a WRC car aside from the extra 300hp, and have between 5 and 8 others around me spitting fire as well?! That to me is just too hard to pass up.”

Petter goes on to say “RallyCross is a perfect automotive action sport. It has close fights between powerful cars, It’s an arena sport, it’s very accessible, and it’s easy to follow with plenty of racing throughout the day all in one place. Understand this, it is quite a show to be seen and heard! I really want to become a Champion at least one more time in my career! You know me; I am a showman and I want to make some noise. RallyCross will fit me perfectly.”

When it comes to current RallyCross series, to be at the top leaves you with two very viable choices that are both running a proper calendar with all of their events broadcast live as well as highlight packages in certain international markets. Out of Europe, you have IMG rejuvenating the deeply historic European RallyCross Series (Now called “RX”) which consists of 10 stops around Europe with very solid competition and a great plan to produce very fun event weekends for the fans and sponsors. On the other side, out of America, you have the Global RallyCross Series which is run by a good group as well and directly connected to ESPN. Very solid competition there as well, vs some good friends like Ken Block and Travis Pastrana just to name a few. Great people. The GRC consists of a 10 round schedule which spreads events across the USA as well as 4 X-Games stops in Brazil, Barcelona, Munich and the closer in Los Angeles. Full time GRC drivers/teams are automatically included in invites to each X Games and specific invites will be given to drivers/teams from the European RX series.

Solberg is currently building a Citroën DS3 RallyCross car, which will not be ready for at least another month. During this time of preparation, we will continue discussions, and explore both series for the best fit, and best global broadcast packages. Our fans have followed us all around the world and continue to do so. We want to make sure that they have as easy an opportunity as possible to continue following Petter in to the next phase of his Motorsport career.

The new Team including members, sponsors, and livery will be presented at a later date.

Opening Rounds for both Series are as follows:
European RX –
England March 30 – April 1 2013

Global RallyCross –
X Games Brazil May 11-12 2013

About Petter Solberg:
Age: 38 years
Residence: Monaco
Born: Spydeberg in Norway
Car: Citroën DS3
WRC ACHIEVEMENTS:
World Rally Champion: 2003
SILVER: 2002, 2004 & 2005
BRONZE: 2010
Victories: 13 (Wales 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, Cyprus 2003, Australia 2003, Corse 2003, New Zealand 2004, Greece 2004, Japan 2004, Sardinia 2005, Sweden 2005, Mexico 2005).
Podium finishes: 52 (13-15-24).
Career: Ford (1999-2000), Subaru (2000-2008), Petter Solberg WRT (2009-2011), Ford (2012)

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