FIA World RallycrossOpinion

Opinion: Top 10 World RX Tracks

6 Mins read
Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

The FIA World Rallycross Championship will be seven-years-old this year and the series has visited 17 different countries and 22 different venues, giving us plenty of excitement and high drama during that time.

Ranking the tracks the series has been to from one to ten is a tough task, because every circuit is unique and each venue has its own set of challenges for the drivers and teams.

Credit: IMG/ FIA World RX

10) Circuit De Catalunya-Barcelona

Perhaps an unpopular choice for some, but the technical challenge of the Circuit De Catalunya-Barcelona‘s rallycross track stands out for me.

The track also has one of the most dramatic joker lap merges on the calendar as the driver coming out of the joker lap carries a lot more speed going into the fast left-hander compared to the driver on the normal lap.

It creates some great racing as the driver coming off the normal lap strategically try to position their car to block the driver exiting the joker lap.

Meanwhile, we often see the driver who has just done their joker sending the car around the outside and the battle can continue into the downhill braking zone which then goes back onto a section of dirt.

Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

9) Trois-Rivieres

The championship’s annual trip to Canada is a much-loved event and Trois-Rivieres‘s street circuit is always a dramatic affair. Off the start line and the run down to turn one is a chaotic. Over the years, rivals have clashed and championship’s have turned their head.

Which driver dares brake latest? How much are you willing to trade paint? Do you risk damaging your car or having a big accident? For those who make it to the final, they will have to go through that ordeal six times and it is one of the most intense moments of the year.

From three or even four wide, the drivers have to find a way to get into single file. The dirt sections in Canada is different to the dirt in Europe which provides a big challenge for the drivers and engineers.

Sadly there will be no Canadian round this year but if the championship is going to head back to North America, racing around the tricky street rallycross track of Trois-Rivieres is a must.

Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

8) Riga

Making its debut in 2016, the World RX of Latvia in Riga has quickly become a fan favourite event. It’s a technical track and the run down to turn one has created a lot of drama due to its slow chicane. Contact is guaranteed and sometimes it’s a simple matter of good and bad fortune.

The dirt sections in Latvia are not really dirt so the rallycross track is almost like a normal race circuit except the armco barriers create a demanding challenge for the drivers as they slide just millimetres away from brushing the wall.

Riga’s joker lap runs parallel to the normal lap and the merge can create some brilliant racing. If a driver is coming out of the joker lap, they have to take a slower and tighter line going into the final corner so the driver on the normal lap can either cut underneath the driver coming out of the joker lap or try or try sending it around the outside.

Sometimes, the action can continue down to turn one and maybe even for a few more corners. Just ask Petter Solberg and Mattias Ekstrom how you can race each other really hard for at least half the lap at Riga, albeit with the heavy use of the front bumper.

Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

7) Mettet

Belgium’s Mettet was a relatively new addition to the rallycross scene but it has proved to be one of the toughest challenges for the drivers due to the highly technical nature of the track.

Timmy Hansen in 2018 proved that you do not need a joker lap to overtake in rallycross and Mettet was the circuit he demonstrated his aggression and put on a semi-final show. The joker lap is really trick at Mettet because it draws the driver in and you often see drivers running a little bit wide and losing a lot of time.

Mettet really was a driver’s circuit and there was some fantastic action there. It is essentially full of medium to high speed chicanes with two hairpins so the corners follow on from another so the drivers find it difficult to slide the car from corner to corner without overcooking it and compromising the next turn.

If the FIA World Rallycross Championship could have two rounds in Belgium (retaining Spa-Francorchamps and bringing back Mettet) I am sure many fans will be happy.

Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

6) Estering

At less than a kilometre, the Estering is an absolute classic rallycross track. The Estering’s infamous turn one is loved by all the drivers. It’s a lottery on the opening lap as we all know but even on the other laps, the drivers arrive at high speed, flick the handbrake and slide very sideways through the dirt and then try to find the traction on the long run to the next corner.

Who can forget Kevin Eriksson’s around the outside move in 2016 to win his one and only World RX event. Or the closest ever finish in World RX history when Solberg beat Ekstrom by just 0.005 seconds in 2015.

There have been so many classic moments at the Estering and its partly due to the shortness of the track so the drivers have to maximise every corner because the margins are always so tight.

Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

5) Kouvola

Finland’s Kouvola is like a mini rollercoaster, the TV cameras do not do the elevation changes any justice. Speeds are relatively high and the weather likes to throw up a few spanners in the works too.

Niclas Gronholm’s superb win last year was one of the highlights of 2020 and the tricky conditions meant the downhill braking zones were incredibly slippery. After the double-header at Kouvola, all the drivers had high praise for the venue and enjoyed the challenge of one of the toughest rallycross tracks in the world.

Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

4) Lydden Hill

The home of rallycross, Lydden Hill is a grassroots motorsport venue and when the FIA World Rallycross Championship left Lydden for Silverstone there was a lot if disappointment.

Lydden Hill’s first corner offers a few different styles as the drivers can send the car sideways for a long time through the dirt. For a rallycross track, Lydden Hill is relatively wide so you can overtake. There is so much history and the atmosphere is always fantastic. What’s not to love?

There is no British round for the highest level of rallycross but with Lydden Hill upgrading its facilities recently, track organisers are keen to see the best rallycross drivers in the world return to the place which hosted the first ever rallycross event back in 1967.

Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

3) Hell

Huge elevation change and ever-changing weather are just two of the characteristics associated with Norway’s Hell. Spectators have a fantastic view of the whole circuit, watching the cars climb the massive kerbs and the drivers dealing with the rough and tumble of the iconic track.

The racing is always fantastic and the Norwegians really get behind the home drivers, most notably Andreas Bakkerud.

The last time the championship visited Hell, in 2019, the semi-finals and final had everything you could ask for from a rallycross race. Crazy weather, drama all round, brilliant racing, pure entertainment. Hell is set to return this year after its absence in 2020.

Credit: IMG/ FIA World RX

2) Spa-Francorchamps

The newest track on the World RX calendar and one of the best. If ever a track was made to create amazing rallycross action then it is Spa.

Battles can go on for the whole lap as shown in 2019, due to the hairpin at Eau Rouge, the wide turn following it and of course the long, medium speed, banked gravel turn which allows the drivers to take varying lines as they try to find some traction.

It suits an exciting style of driving when the drivers don’t use the brakes too much and simply throw the car into the corner and use their skills to get the car pointing in the right direction and fire it out of the corner.

The jump over the finish line just after the merge between the joker lap and normal lap is the icing on the cake and Spa could become a staple on the World RX schedule simply due to the nature of the track which could set a precedent for how rallycross circuits should be built.

1) Holjes

Host to the Magic Weekend and arguably he highlight of the FIA World Rallycross Championship season, Holjes is adored by all fans and the drivers.

Its the Monaco Grand Prix or the Indy 500 of rallycross and the track has so much character. Big kerbs, big jumps, overtaking opportunities, a mixture of fast and slow corners – for me it is the best rallycross track in the world.

From the forest next to the track, the fans make Holjes extra special with an electric atmosphere in any conditions.

During the Magic Weekend, there can be up to 100 races and the cars are usually battered and bruised by the end of the weekend because of the brutality of the track and the drivers pushing the limits of their cars and sometimes each other.

There have been so many magical moments at Holjes since the track opened in 1976 and it’s the pioneer event on the rallycross calendar.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know!

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