The 2015 FIA European Rallycross Championship was a two horse affair between eventual champion Tommy Rustad and runner up Jerome Grosset-Janin. However, for 2016 we will see a much closer and competitive field trying to wrestle that crown away from Rustad.
23 full time drivers have been confirmed and picking the championship winner from these will be harder than picking your lottery numbers but this is who will take part in the series in 2016:
Albatec Racing will field three Peugeot 208’s this year with Jerome Grosset-Janin returning to the team. He will be joined by Team Principle Andy Scott and 2015 Euro RX Champion Tommy Rustad in a join HTB Racing/Albatec car. This is one of the strongest line-ups in 2016 and there is no doubt that all three drivers will be looking for silverware during the season and will be in the championship fight.
Having competed in the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2015, WorldRX Team Austria Team Priniciple Max Pucher will contest the full Euro RX season in 2016 in a Ford Fiesta. Pucher has been contesting in domestic championships this year and with Manfred Stohl leading the engineering side of the team, expect the Austrian driver to be fighting for victories.
Jean-Baptiste Dubourg was a front runner in Euro RX last year in his reliable Citroen C4, which he guided to a maiden World RX podium finish at Loheac as well. Over the winter, the Frenchman secured the 2016 Andros Trophy and moves to a brand new Citroen DS3 for his 2016 Euro RX season. Once settled with his new mount, expect this man to be in the fight for race wins.
Tord Linnerud moves from a full time drive in the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship to a full time entry in the 2016 FIA Euro RX, however he will once again drive a Volkswagen Polo Supercar. With previous knowledge of the car already under his belt, Linnerud will be challenging for honours. Adding to the Norwegian ranks is Tom Daniel Tanevik in the Volvo C30.
One of the dark horses for this year will be Kevin Hansen. The young Swedish driver made his Supercar debut in World RX at Argentina last year and took a podium finish. For 2016 he will drive a Peugeot-Hansen Academy 208 and will no doubt be fast out of the blocks and fighting for victories.
Tamas Pal Kiss is back for 2016 in a Speedbox Racing Peugeot 208. Kiss underlined his talent at the Euro RX Finale in Italy last year and has been the pace setter in domestic rallycross in 2016. He will be one to watch in a season where he is joined by fellow Hungarians Tamas Karai in a Karai Motorsport Audi A1 and Lukacs Kornel in the ex Koen Pauwels Mk3 Ford Focus Supercar for Speedy Motorsport.
Eklund Motorsport are back for a full season in 2016, however there are two Volkswagen Beetles entered for both Alexander Hvaal and Joni-Pekka Rajala. The Beetle saw action in 2015 and with this fast and young line-up, these iconic cars will be sure to be troubling the established runners for Semi-Final positions at least. Another iconic car racing in 2016 will be the BMW Mini in the hands of Riku Takho as the Finnish driver returns for 2016.
2007 British Rallycross Champion Ollie O’Donovan returns for 2016 in what will be his second year driving the Tony Bardy Motorsport prepared Team RX Racing Ford Fiesta. O’Donovan took several Semi-Final places in 2015 and will be looking to progress further up the field this year in such a competitive field. British RX regular Mark Flaherty will also compete in the full season in his Mk2 Ford Focus.
2015 Euro RX Touring Car champion Fredrik Salsten moves to the Supercar Catergory for 2016 in a Peugeot 208 whilst popular Belgian Michaël De Keersmaecker makes a full time return to the series in a Ford Fiesta Supercar. Adding to the Ford Fiesta ranks are Polish rallycross drivers Martin Kaczmarski and Krzysztof Holowczyc on the Lotto Racing squad along with Andreas Steffen, Mats Ohman and Andri Oun.
A change in sporting regulations for 2016 sees Euro RX competitors racing in their own Qualifying races, completely separate from the World RX competitors. This allows for more exposure for the drivers and teams and its less confusing when its comes to the weekends where Euro RX and World RX compete at the same circuits. Separate Semi-Finals and Finals will also continue for 2016. Also new for 2016 is the first ever Latvian round for the series, which will take place at the Riga circuit.
So, there we have it. 22 drivers will compete to try and secure the 2016 FIA European Rallycross Championship from defending champion Tommy Rustad and what a year of competition we are in for.
The majority of the field is using either the popular Ford Fiesta or the Peugeot 208 that’s fast turning into a formidable Supercar. Throw in the VW Beetles, the BMW Mini, the Citroen DS3 and the other Supercars and you have an amazing range of machinery capable of winning races in 2016.
Lets not forget the epic battles and scores to settle from 2015. Rustad and Grosset-Janin fought tooth and nail for the Euro RX Title whilst Dubourg and Rejala were worthy opponents. Kiss, Karai and O’Donovan were well in the fight for Semi-Final places In 2016 drivers such as Pucher, Hansen, Scott, Linnerud, Salsten and many more are all capable of qualifying for Semi-Finals and Finals as well as fighting it out for race victories. Predicting a championship winner from this strong field is almost impossible!
All I know is, with this epic field of drivers for 2016, anything can happen and probably will…