Timo Scheider has won the title of “Driver Of The Year” in the annual FIA World Rallycross Championship poll to find the Top Ten Drivers of the Year. The vote, held on the official world rallycross website, declared the fourth-place finisher and event winner in South Africa the best driver of the 2023 field.
Before the season started, Scheider was a rank outsider in likelihood to win any events. For all the double DTM champ’s experience, he was starting the year in outdated machinery, racing in a 2022 SEAT Ibiza. “We know things will be tough to begin with in last year’s car,” Scheider even admitted, “but the new car is due to be ready later in the season and that should allow us to take a decent step forward and fight with the others.”
He didn’t have to wait long. In a stunning display, Scheider stepped onto the podium in only the second event of the season in Hell, Norway. Once again reaching the final in Sweden, the championship then went on hiatus following the fire at Lydden Hill in July. Once the decision was taken to complete the season in RX2e machinery, many assumed that Scheider would be at something of a disadvantage. Other drivers, such as Kevin Hansen, have years of experience racing these machines, whereas Scheider, not coming up through the ranks of rallycross as others have, didn’t have such experience to fall back on.
So it was an absolutely stunning turn of events when, in only the second event in the ZEROID X1 cars, Scheider defeated all the competition and won at the Killarney International Raceway. He overcame an opening heat puncture to top the overall heats leaderboard for the first time in his career. He defended mightily from a very fast Hansen to win his semi final, before capitalising on a fierce battle between Hansen and Johan Kristoffersson to take the overall win in the final.
The emotions for Scheider were clearly very high after the win. “The level of competition in World RX is so high and we all know how difficult it is to beat Johan,” he explained, “so I’m super-proud for both myself and the ALL-INKL.COM team – they put so much energy into this project and have kept believing in me. It’s quite overwhelming, to be honest.”
At the final double header of the year in Hong Kong, Scheider managed to grab one more podium before the winter break. As a result of these results, Scheider finished just out of the top three in fourth position in the final drivers’ standings. But is the underdog David versus Goliath story that propelled him to Driver of the Year status with the fans.
Similarly, second place in the rankings went to Patrick O’Donovan, the young star who was a serious contender for the Euro RX1 title in only his first season in the championship, and was highly competitive in his world rx debut in Hong Kong. Six-time world champion Kristoffersson was third, followed by Euro RX1 privateer Sivert Svardal who claimed a hugely popular maiden victory in Hell.
Fifth went to Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, the RX2e star who challenged the big guns in world rallycross in Belgium. Sixth went to Klara Andersson, seventh to the perennially unlucky Euro RX1 runner up Jānis Baumanis, followed by Sébastian Loeb in eighth. Niclas Grönholm, who came third in the championship, came in ninth, while championship runner up and the only event winner in 2023 other than Kristoffersson and Scheider, Kevin Hansen, rounds out the top ten.
With the driver rankings sorted out, all eyes turn to 2024. Along with a revised points system and a new tyre provider, the biggest change for the 2024 is the “Battle of Technologies” concept which will pit electric cars against their internal combustion engine counterparts. With a hopefully expanded grid, the battle for Driver of the Year 2024 will surely be a tough contest to win.