The FIA World Rallycross Championship began its second ‘winter’ test on Monday at the new Silverstone circuit, alongside its official pre-season media launch, where stars of rallycross and single seaters alike came to mark the beginning of a new season.
The test and media day was held at the newly built Silverstone rallycross track, which will be replacing Lydden Hill in Kent for the British round of the World Championship in May this year. Drivers were able to test their new 2018 cars in the morning and afternoon, but media and the likes of George Russell, Nicolas Hamilton, Jack Aitken and Callum Ilott were taken on passenger laps in cars ranging from Petter Solberg’s PSRX Volkswagen Polo to RX2 cars with the future stars of rallycross.
Going into its fifth season as a fully recognised FIA World Championship, WRX has gone from strength to strength over recent years, and now is widely seen as one of the fastest growing championships. This is shown by the venues that the series will head to this year, such as the inaugural round at the world-famous Circuit of the Americas, or returning for a second year to Cape Town.
Almost all of the key figures in the championship will be driving again this year, whether that be reigning WRX champion Johan Kristofferson, nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb or double DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom, who in fact decided to commit full-time to rallycross and pull out of DTM. There is an abundance of young talent waiting in the wings too, be that Andreas Bakkerud, Kevin Hansen or even RX2 drivers such as Guillaume de Ridder or Nathan Heathcote.
Kristofferson broke several records on his way to becoming champion last year, most notably for the most number of wins in a season, but testing so far suggests the battle is much tighter at the front, with the top five cars being separated by under a second overall over the course of the two-day test. EKS Audi Sport‘s Mattias Ekstrom topped was sat at the top of the time-sheets.