RX2 International Series, the newly-rebranded feeder series to the FIA World Rallycross Championship, is ready to kick off with an 18-strong grid of high-calibre competitors, all gunning for glory.
The series’ curtain-raiser is held as soon as next weekend (12-14 May), in support to the fourth round of World Rallycross in Mettet, Belgium, and the entry list reads like a who’s who of the next generation of competitors in the sport; this season’s favourite, as well as reigning RX Lites champion, is Cyril Raymond from France, who will be joined by no fewer than five other RX Lites contestants.
Sweden’s Simon Olofsson was a race-winner and regular podium-finisher last year – snaring the runner-up spoils at Mettet – whilst Norwegian duo Simon Wågø Syversen and Sondre Evjen have both shown they have the pace to challenge right at the front of the field. Kenyan Tejas Hirani is another name that cannot be discounted, as is Norway’s Thomas Holmen, who demonstrated consistent improvement over the course of the 2016 campaign.
MSA British Rallycross Supercar champion Dan Rooke is expected to show his talent in RX2, while 17-year-old Swede William Nilsson is also eager to show his precocious potential.
Karting siblings Jessica and Andreas Bäckman, also from Sweden, are both keen to learn their ropes in rallycross on the international arena, while American hotshot Tanner Whitten aims to become the first-ever driver from across the pond to lift the laurels in the support series.
Russian Vasiliy Gryazin and Belgian Guillaume De Ridder are looking to turn their rallying skills into rallycross results: a further challenge for De Ridder comes from his fellow countryman and rallyist Ghislain de Mévius, who boasts proud heritage in the sport, as his father Grégoire de Mévius is a former World Rally Championship driver.
Glenn Haug (Norway) honed his craft at Super1600 level in the FIA European Rallycross Championship last year, and the entry list is completed by a trio of promising Swedish prospects. Sandra Hultgren has experience in both RX Lites and GRC Lites, Anders Michalak has enjoyed a diverse career to-date comprising stints in hillclimbing, Supermoto and Crosskart and Santosh Berggren made a one-off appearance on home turf in RX Lites last season.
The action-packed weekend begins with free practice on Friday, followed by the first two qualifying sessions on Saturday; the remainder of the qualifying, as well as the semifinals and the all-important final, will take place on Sunday.
After the Belgian season opener, the remaining six rounds of the RX2 International Series will take place across three continents, as support to the WRX rounds of Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Canada, France and South Africa.