The FIA World Rallycross Championship is a hybrid of on and off road racing held on short and challenging tracks around the globe.
Taking inspiration from British Rallycross and building on the European Rallycross Championship structure, this new and exciting championship held its first season in 2014 and has so far been dominated by ex-World Rally Champion Petter Solberg who won the World RX titles in 2014 and 2015.
The championship is currently into the fourth race of its third season heading to the home of rallycross: Lydden Hill in the UK.
So far, the season has been dominated by two men, reigning champion Petter Solberg, and DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom. The latter has the momentum heading into Britain; but as it’s been seen before, anything is possible in WRX.
Aside from the main Supercar category there a number of categories that take turns in a supporting role at a World RX event including the RX Lites Cup, which is seen as more as a junior class before making the switch to Supercars. The European Rallycross championship also plays its part in the support races with the Super1600 and Touring Car classes.
The drivers are grouped into four heats which can contest anything from three to five cars. Drivers also earn points based on their positions. The points at this stage are relatively simple; P1 getting 16 points and each place after getting one point less, i.e. P2: 15, P3: 14, and so on; P16 gets one single point.
The 12 fastest drivers from the heats go through to one of two semi-finals with six cars in each. Points are allocated at this stage too, with P1 getting six points and each place after getting one point less, as with the heats.
The top three drivers in each semi-final go through to the final. The points are slightly different here with the winner getting eight points, P2 getting five, and one less for positions thereafter. The winner of the final is judged the winner of the event.
The champion is the driver who has gained the most points after 13 rounds, regardless of how many event wins a driver may have.
The racing is quick and fierce as each heat runs four laps long including a joker lap. The semi-finals and finals have six laps.
A driver MUST play a Joker Lap in every race. Should a driver fail to run a joker, they will have a 30-second penalty added to their time.
The joker is an extended part of the circuit which is normally around 200 metres longer. Timing is everything; drivers need to work out the most efficient time to use their joker and must also rejoin the race in the middle of a battle. Think of it as a non-stop pitstop!
The cars are normal road-going hot hatches on steroids. Packing a 600bhp punch the cars can accelerate from 0-60mph in a staggering 1.9 seconds. With their turbochanged engines they are (excluding drag racers) the fastest accelerating racing cars on the planet; faster than an F1 car.
The cars have no driving aids; they use the same Cooper tyres and a manual shift gearbox placing much more emphasis on driver skill.
The joker lap is an obvious rule that the drivers need to follow, but World RX IS a contact sport. Because the races are so short, the drivers have little time to lose. There are no penalties for contact (well, almost) which means anything can happen. Often car are without chunks of bodywork with aggressive bumper bashing during the mad four laps!
The circuits are a mix of dirt and tarmac; as a rule the track needs to have a minimum of 40% dirt. Tracks are usually very short averaging about one kilometre and specially designed or selected to ensure that the fans get a great view of the action.
The World RX circus travels all around the world; starting at the sandy asphalt of Montalegre in Portugal, the calendar moves to the famous Hockenheimring in Germany. Moving through to Belgium and Great Britain the calendar hops over to the infamous Hell in Norway.
The 2016 calendar heads east to Sweden next, in the tiny Holjes town. Then, the series hops across the Atlantic to the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres in Canada, and back again to Loheac in France.
The World RX of Barcelona is next at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Lativa is next followed by second trip to Germany at the Estering. The twelfth and final round of the championship takes place at San Luis in Argentina.
The WRX driver lineup reads like a who’s who in WRC / X Games royalty. Drivers such as WRC Champion Petter Solberg, Four time X-Games medallist Liam Doran, record-breaking WRC star Sebastien Loeb, and two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom are all racing in 2016.
Alongside these regular drivers, wildcards are entered into the championship at each round. Previous drivers include X-Games medallist Dave Mirra and BTCC star Andrew Jordan.
WRX is live streamed online in certain countries on http://www.fiaworldrallycross.com/livestream; the same link can also be used for catchup.
Television broadcasts differ from country to continent – check your local TV listings on the official website http://www.fiaworldrallycross.com/article/tvlisting.