The 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship kicks off at Montalegre in Portugal this weekend for the second season of WorldRX.
However, now that the official entry list of the drivers and teams taking part has been released, picking the 2015 World Champion is a very, very difficult task.
The 2014 season witnessed thirteen regular WorldRX drivers competing for the title whilst six teams were entered for the Teams Trophy and a lot of fast, close and exciting racing. For 2015, the numbers increase and the bar has already been raised due to the talent taking part.
Eighteen regular competitors are entered along with eight teams competing for the FIA World Rallycross Teams Trophy and its a very competitive field of drivers taking part in all thirteen rounds of the championship.
2014 Champion Petter Solberg is back to defend his drivers title and he has teamed up with “British Bomb” Liam Doran to set-up SDRX, allowing this super-team a chance to fight for the Teams Trophy as well as the overall Drivers Title. Solberg won five events in 2014 and he will be looking for a second Drivers Title whilst Doran is looking to put a difficult 2014 behind him and he will be one to watch. Both drivers will pilot Monster Energy-backed Citroen DS3 Supercars.
2014 Teams Trophy winners Ford OMSE are fielding three Fiesta Supercars and they have a very strong driver line-up. The team have retained both Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss, meaning that previous knowledge of the cars will give these two young guns a fast start to the year. Double EuroRX Champion Timur Timerzyanov joins the outfit with his entry being run by Namus OMSE and he will be looking to get back to winning ways.
Team Peugeot-Hansen returns for a second assault in WorldRX, with Timmy Hansen being joined by rapid Frenchman Davy Jeanney who enters his first season in the World Championship. The team gained speed and momentum during their 2014 campaign and armed with brand new Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars, both Hansen and Jeanney will be looking to seriously challenge for titles.
EKSRX returns to WorldRX for a full campaign after several appearances last year. Mattias Ekstrom is back for twelve of the thirteen rounds, with Edward Sandstrom deputising for the former DTM Champion at Hockenheim. Ekstrom enjoyed a perfect points score at Sweden in 2014, winning the event in his Audi S1 Supercar and he is aiming for title glory. Anton Marklund joins EKSRX and he will be quick from the outset as well. Expect both S1’s to be challenging for wins.
Volkswagen is supporting two privateer outfits this year, doubling the chances of winning the Teams Trophy. Marklund Motorsport is back in a bid to go one better in 2015 and takes the Teams Trophy. Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen has stayed on and he will be looking to win the Drivers Title that eluded him last year. Joining him for a full season is former Junior WRC Champion Per-Gunnar Andersson, who tried WorldRX machinery last year. Both men are piloting VW Polo RX Supercars and they went well at Montalegre last year.
Volkswagen Team Sweden is the second VW privateer outfit and they will be one to watch in equal machinery. Former touring car and Porsche champion Johan Kristoffersson drives for the team and he enjoyed a good season in EuroRX last year, taking a podium finish at Mettet. Tord Linnerud completes the lineup and both of these young chargers will be sure to challenge for honours this season.
Another new team to the championship is World RX Team Austria, setup by Austrian Rallycross driver Max Pucher and WRC legend Manfred Stohl. Pucher is looking forward to his first season of WorldRX after competing in domestic championships whilst Stohl adapted to WorldRX very quickly at the San Luis Finale last year as team-mate to Solberg. Stohl Racing has built the Ford Fiesta Supercars for 2015 and I expect these two to be fighting for podiums once the car is fully developed.
Muennich Motorsport also enters the series full-time in 2015 after competing at the Estering in 2014. Team Owner Rene Muennich is piloting one of the updated Audi S3 Supercars for the full season, with a full development programme seeing many changes made to the car over the winter for its entry this year. 2006 Formula Renault 3.5 Champion Alx Danielsson has been confirmed in the second Audi S3 for the first three rounds of the season and both his and Muennich’s progress will be one to watch as the season proceeds.
2014 EuroRX Champion Robin Larsson moves up to the World Championship in 2015 and he is one driver that will be challenging for title glory. Larsson scored a podium on his debut during the WorldRX of Great Britain last year and he was very fast in the Larsson-Jernberg Racing Audi A1 Supercar. With an updated car, Larsson will be the “David” to the many “Goliath’s” in the World Championship, but he has the talent and speed to win.
The Wildcards taking part at the season opener include local drivers Joaquim Santos in a Ford Focus and Mario Barbosa in a Citroen DS3. 2014 French Rallycross Vice Champion Jean-Baptiste Dubourg will drive a Citroen C4 Supercar in Portugal with a new engine from Oreca.
Picking a Champion is near impossible right now, but expect Larsson, Kristoffersson and Jeanney to be the surprise performers during the season.
The FIA World Rallycross Championship has thirteen rounds this year with two new venues added to the calendar and both also having been host to Formula One. Hockenheim is round two of the season, with WorldRX sharing the weekend with the DTM as it hosts its first two rounds. Barcelona was the scene of the WorldRX Media Day and is a popular edition to the series.
During the season, WorldRX will be joined at different rounds by the RX Lites Cup, the FIA Rallycross Touring Car category, the Super1600 Championship and the FIA European Rallycross Championship, which will have its own separate Semi-Finals and Final this year.
Add all these ingredients together into the mix that is World Rallycross and the result is simple. In its second year of action, WorldRX is looking bigger, better and more exciting than ever and its providing an exciting new platform to follow at a time when the fans are asking for pure action and adrenalin fuelled motorsport.