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26 Mar 2013

ERX 2013: RX heads home

Category: ERC, News Posted 26.03.13 21:45 by

RallycrossRX Preview: The revitalized FIA European Rallycross Championship returns next Easter weekend and like hungry, fire-spitting 560bhp Rallycross SuperCars, fans eagerly await the arrival of this new era of European Rallycross.

 

A lot has changed since last season, indeed a lot has changed since the sport’s first outing at Lydden Hill in February 1967 and the creation of the championship in 1973. Although many conservative fans have quickly questioned the new changes, one thing still remains at the heart of this incredible Motorsport: fast cars, unbelievably skilled drivers and exciting racing.

I’ll never forget the first European Rallycross races I saw as a kid. My earliest memories recall glimpsing through gaps in fences, one minute submerged by cheering, the squeaking of tyres and the screams of turbos; and the next showered in dust (usually by the likes of Martin Schanche or Ludvig Hunsbedt).

New ten-year promoter IMG unveiled its plans for 2013 late last year, with Managing Director Martin Anayi stating that “First and foremost this is still Rallycross. We don’t want to move away from that. For us the most important thing is to stay true to the sport. The sport is interesting, it is thrilling, the sport is the motorsport of the 21st century, its short, sharp racing, and we don’t need to create something artificial in terms of jumps and spectacular show, actually the racing is the show, and thats what we need to keep.”

Their enthusiasm for the sport has been undeniably contagious, and IMG ambitiously saw the potential for the championship on the European main stage. The lure may have been the ferocity of the SuperCars. A SuperCar is capable of reaching 560bhp at 5,500 rpm, whilst battling against five other cars in a semi final or final, on a mix of technical corners, fast straights and lifts and a mixture of surfaces.

The principles of Rallycross have always been founded on the progressive evolution of the drivers during an event, moving through qualifying rounds (three per driver) towards a final phase.  In 2013, this traditional format will continue to be applied. IMG have made some slight tweaks to the championship system, although decided not to go ahead with their proposed ‘round-robin’ structure for the first year.

A total of 43 drivers have been published today as entries for the first round, numbers include SuperCars, Super1600s and TouringCars. These are of of course provisional, and there has already been both news and rumours surrounding the current status of the young Norwegian Renault Clio driver who is unsure if he will be ready in time. Mats Lysen: “We will drive if the car is ready. We will work day and night to try our best to get finished in time.” Belgian Michaël De Keersmeacker is another non-starter already announcing his absence because of an injury inflicted in Maasmechelen on March 3.

Check back tomorrow evening for an extensive in-depth look into the drivers to watch in the FIA European Rallycross Championship across all three classes.