With all of the recent announcements taking place of late, The 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship is looking to be a much different beast as the series reaches its fourth season of competition and what seems to be a more dynamic and changed driver/team lineups.
What we know so far…
The first team to confirm its participation for the 2017 season was DA Racing, who announced in the new year that they would run two ex-Peugeot-Hansen 208 WRX Supercars in a full season campaign. Whilst no drivers have been announced yet, it makes sense that two time Andros Trophy champion Jean-Baptiste Dubourg will be at the wheel of one of the cars with the team being run by his father.
Dubourg has already impressed in World RX after taking a shock third place in the older Citroen C4 at the 2015 World RX of France as well as troubling the World RX regulars in his Citroen DS3 last year. As to who will take the second Peugeot seat at the team, well this could be any number of drivers, however with the Hansen connection, you could expect to see either Kevin Hansen, Davy Jeanney or even Andrea Dubourg alongside J-B. TCF awaits the full confirmation of the driver lineup.
The second announcement came soon after with Petter Solberg announcing that his PSRX outfit will be supported by Volkswagen Germany for a full assault on both the Drivers Championship and Teams Championship. Both drivers will use brand new VW Polo Supercars.
The confirmation also included that two time World RX event winner Johan Kristoffersson will drive the second car. With Solberg missing out on the title to Mattias Ekstrom for 2016, expect this lineup to be the strongest challengers to both Ekstrom and his EKSRX squad.
Mattias Ekstrom‘s World RX squad has made two announcements during the off season for their plans for 2017. Audi Sport confirmed that in late January that they will support the team as they look to defend their 2016 Teams Championship Title and this has aided the teams return back to the series.
The team also confirmed at the start of February that they had retained the services of Topi Heikkinen meaning that the team goes in to the new season with the same drivers and a potentially updated car to defend its titles.
MJP RACING TEAM AUSTRIA
Max Pucher’s World RX Team Austria has renamed itself for 2017 as MJP Racing Team Austria and changed its driver lineup as well. Former Double DTM Champion Timo Scheider was announced as driving for the team on February 5th. The Austrian driver took part in several events in 2016 for the Munnich Motorsport before announcing his retirement from the DTM.
Several days later, the team confirmed that 2016 World RX of Germany winner Kevin Eriksson would join Scheider for 2017. Eriksson competed for OlsbergsMSE in 2016 and is seen as a young talent of the future. Both drivers will use brand new Ford Fiesta RXS Supercars built by the team for 2017.
HOONIGAN RACING / FORD PERFORMANCE
Hoonigan Racing debuted the new Ford Focus RS RX in 2016 and Andreas Bakkerud took the car to three victories on his way to a top three finish in the Drivers Championship. One of his wins was the historic “Perfect Weekend” at Hell in Norway where Bakkerud scored 200 points in Qualifying before going on to win his Semi-Final and then the Final.
Ken Block competed in his first full season of World RX, however he suffered with reliability issues. Block made several appearances in the Semi-Finals as he got used to the new car and with both drivers being very active on social media, its clear that the team has been testing more updates for the car. Whilst there has not been any official announcement yet, an unchanged lineup is expected at the Hoonigan Racing Team for 2017.
Another team that’s expected to field an unchanged line up for 2017 is Team Peugeot-Hansen. 9 time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb made his debut in World RX last year and the French driver was soon up to speed with how to tackle the the competition. Loeb took his first ever win at Latvia and will be expected to take more in 2017.
Timmy Hansen endured a difficult start to his year in 2016 that improved as the team improved the car to be the closest contenders to the EKSRX squad. Hansen took a win in Canada and was fastest on day one of the World RX of Spain. The team have posted on social media recently that they have been testing updates to the 208 WRX Supercars for the 2017 season. The squad will be looking to return to winning ways as they look to reclaim the Teams Championship title.
The Hansen Peugeot Academy team ran two cars for both Kevin Hansen and Davy Jeanney in the 2017 World RX season as well as running Kevin in the 2017 FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars, where he secured the Drivers Title. The team also supported Fredrik Salsten in Euro RX last year in an ex-Peugeot-Hansen 208. There are no plans announced yet for the teams activity in 2017, however expect confirmation of this along with the Team Peugeot-Hansen announcement.
In 2016, Rene Munnich‘s outfit ran brand new SEAT Ibiza RX Supercars with Rene Munnich at the wheel of one whilst Reinis Nitiss drove the other until the World RX of France where ironically on his last appearance for the team, he took the car to its first Final. Timo Schieder drove the car for several events at the end of the season.
For 2017, its expected that Munnich will return with two SEAT’s once again with the team owner at the wheel of one of them. who will pilot the second entry is anyone’s guess, however TCF awaits an announcement form the team on its plans for 2017.
STOHL RACING TEAM
During the 2016 World RX Season, Max Pucher and Manfred Stohl parted ways and there have been strong rumours now that Stohl Racing Team will enter World RX in 2017 for its first full season as a separate outfit. The rumours also link up Double Euro RX Champion Timur Timerzyanov and Janis Baumanis with the team.
Both drivers have been rumoured to be driving the Ford Fiesta’s raced in 2016 with the same sponsors in place. If this is the case, these two will be a strong lineup together with a years knowledge under their belts of the cars and the setups to use. TCF awaits official confirmation of this.
There has been no news yet from Andreas Eriksson‘s team for the 2017 season. Rumours persist that the team will sit out World RX in 2017 with the Red Global Rallycross Championship being their sole focus as they develop the Honda Civic Supercar further.
Reinis Nitiss joined young guns Kevin Eriksson and Niclas Gronholm at the World RX of Spain onwards in 2016, however its highly possible if the team remains in World RX for 2017, Nitiss could be a factor in these plans. TCF is looking forward to an official confirmation of the teams plans.
Following on from the news that Kevin Eriksson has moved on for 2017, there have been rumours and noises that former WRC Champion Marcus Gronholm will bring his team into World RX for its first full season in 2017 with son Niclas at the wheel of the teams entry.
Further noises have added that he will drive an M-Sport built Ford Fiesta Supercar and not the popular choice of an OlsbergsMSE Fiesta. There could also be other entries from the team during the year. TCF awaits a confirmation of the teams plans.
The 2014 FIA Euro RX Champion has taken part in two seasons of World RX competition at the wheel of his ever reliable Audi A1 Supercar “Diana” and she rewarded him with victory at the 2015 World RX of Argentina. Larsson isn’t afraid to mix it with the bigger teams in in the series, however there was growing talk during the year that a works drive would be the best way forward.
There has been a crowd funding campaign on Social Media to help raise funds for 2017 with talk that Diana is up for sale. With news due soon of the Swedish drivers plans for this year, TCF looks forward to an update on this.
JRM WORLD RX
The Daventry based team upgraded their BMW MINI Supercar programme in 2016 with Liam Doran announced as a full season entry. However the two parties parted ways after the World RX of Sweden. Returning for the second half of the year, the team ran both Guerlain Chicherit and former British Rally Champion Guy Wilks in the two cars with more development mileage put on the new 2 litre turbocharged engine.
Plans have not been announced yet for the 2017 season, however TCF looks forward to the next chapter of the team’s Rallycross development news.
After a succesful start to the 2016 season with the JRM World RX team, which included that epic Semi-Final race at the World RX of Hockenheim, Doran and the team parted ways after Sweden.
The British Bomb made a return to action in the season ending British Rallycross Grand Prix in his LD Motorsports Monster Energy Citroen DS3 and took his second win in the event ahead of a 1-2 with 2016 MSA British Rallycross Champion Dan Rooke. There has been no news about the plans for the former X Games medalist, however TCF awaits official confirmation.
There are still quite a few seats to be both filed and confirmed for the 2017 season, however TCF will be keeping you up to date with all of the build up to the start of the season on April 1-2 in Spain.