The FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) has approved significant changes for the FIA World Rallycross Championship in their final meeting of the year in Baku.
Battle of Technologies
The biggest change approved at the meeting is a move away from the grid being all-electric. According to the FIA’s website, after a tumultuous season for world rallycross in 2023, the WMSC have decided to approve “a “Battle of Technologies” concept…whereby electric-powered (EV) cars will compete with internal combustion (ICE) cars in the FIA World Rallycross Championship on equal terms“.
So far, this is the only confirmation available that the decision has been taken. However, it could allow the reintroduction of more “wildcard” entries on the grid, as ICE rallycross cars are far more common than their EV rivals. For the majority of the all-electric seasons, there have been eight entries per event, with some events having up to ten. With the reintroduction of ICE cars, there could be more competition injected.
This move has the potential to let electric rallycross cars shine. Speaking to The Checkered Flag in July 2023, 2019 world champion Timmy Hansen argued that “maybe the mistake has been not putting these cars side by side. If people would have seen how fast these cars are, you can cheer for anybody out on track but the electric cars would win nine out of ten races, mainly because we would be miles out ahead right from the start. People haven’t seen how fast the car is in a side by side comparison, and I think, if they had seen it, the attitude would have been very different“.
This news comes hot on the heels of the announcement from ESmotorsport that they will run an all-electric Škoda Fabia RX1e in the 2024 season. Team owner Ernestas Staponkus said of his team’s achievement: “it has been a big project, but the Fabia RX1e is finished and ready to race. It has been built according to the highest standards and will be competitive in the next season of World RX. Now we are looking for a driver who can fight for the highest places and achieve excellent results with us in the world championship“.
It is highly likely that they will find a competitive driver. ESmotorsport alumni include world rallycross veterans Rokas Baciuška and Reinis Nitišs. It was also with the team that fan favourite Andreas Bakkerud secured victory in the 2021 FIA European Rallycross Championship. With the prospect of a battle of technologies adding to the fun, all eyes are on who they will get to pilot their new world rallycross contender.
In addition to the “battle of technologies” concept, the WMSC approved an update to the race weekend format “whereby competitors will race for position and not against the clock. Championship points would accrue in every race including heats“. The reasoning behind this change was given as “the revised format would reduce the jeopardy of track conditions/evolution and be easier to be understood by fans new to the sport“.
After successfully completing an independent test to assess technical capability and performance, Hoosier Racing Tire has been approved as the sole tire provider across all FIA World Rallycross categories.
As of 6 December 2023, no confirmation as to how the series will react to these developments and when they will take effect has been released by the FIA World Rallycross press office. Watch this space and follow The Checkered Flag for more updates.