FIA World Rallycross

PREVIEW: 2024 FIA World Rallycross Championship – Höljes, Sweden

4 Mins read
Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool

After a difficult end to the 2023 season and a long winter break, the 2024 FIA World Rallycross Championship is finally set to begin at the Höljes Motorstadion. This will be the first time that the electric powered rallycross cars will go up against their sustainably-fuelled internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts, as the opening round of the championship heralds the arrival of the new “Battle of Technologies” era of world rallycross.

All of the drivers in this photo from Sweden 2023 will be returning in 2024. Credit: Andre Lavadinho / @World / Red Bull Content Pool

New For 2024

After two years of the all-electric era, the world rallycross championship is allowing ICE cars back onto the grid. The top class of rallycross racing will now feature electric cars going into battle against ICE machinery in an exhilarating battle. “I love this, it’s going to be very exciting” 2019 world champion Timmy Hansen told The Checkered Flag. For the fans, they can root for combustion, electric, whatever they want. They can choose their favourites. It doesn’t have to be electric and that’s the only option.”

The other major change for 2024 is an overhaul of the points system. Each race event will comprise of up to four heat races, two semi-finals and one final. No change there. However, what is new is that championship points will be scored every time the cars race on track. The winner on track in each heat race will earn 5 points, down to 1 for the driver who comes 5th. In each semi-final and final, 10 points will be awarded to the winner, 8 for 2nd, down to 1 point for 6th. “To race for position and for points a lot more, a good or bad heat influences the championship a lot moreKevin Hansen told The Checkered Flag. In explaining the impact this change will have on the action, Hansen said “you have to be a bit more sensible, but also you have to be aggressive and take your space because you do get championship points every time you’re on track. That will be very fun.”

Timmy and Kevin Hansen are ready to electrify the grid once again. Credit: Rallycross Promoter GmbH / Red Bull Content Pool

“Magic Weekend”

The legendary “Magic Weekend” in Sweden is the perfect setting for such an exciting and innovative weekend of rallycross action. Like all events on the 2024 calendar, this is a double-header weekend, meaning that a full round of the world championship will take place on each day. This weekend is always one of the best attended on the rallycross calendar, with up to 50,000 spectators packing the grandstands and spectator areas. With its iconic corners such as the sweeping Velodrome leading onto the very fast downhill, gravel back straight, Höljes is a perennial favourite with both fans and drivers alike.

KMS – Horse Powertrain’s new VW Polo KMS 601 RX. Credit: Rallycross Promoter GmbH / Red Bull Content Pool

It’s also the home race for several drivers, including six-time world rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson. The Swedish superstar was the first major contender to announce his switch to ICE, with his newly named KMS – HORSE Powertrain team fielding two VW Polo KMS 601 RX cars. His intentions were clear from the first day of testing (1 July) when he topped the timesheet in his new Polo with a time of 42.854 seconds. He will be partnered by long-term teammate Ole Christian Veiby, still without a win in world rallycross, but confident that he’s in the machinery to achieve that this year.

Kristoffersson Motorsport are the only team running both ICE and electric cars at Höljes. The very rapid Volkswagen Polo RX1e machines will be driven by Gustav Bergström and Sondre Evjen. Bergström has driven in world rallycross before, igniting the timesheets in 2022 and dazzling everyone with his lightning reactions at the start of races. Evjen meanwhile was due to race for the team at Lydden Hill in 2023 but didn’t get the chance due to the fire that took place there. Now, the race winner in the 2022 FIA European Rallycross Championship is eager to finish the job and attack the field in the electric Polo.

Gustav Bergström in the heat of battle in 2023. Credit: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

However, it wasn’t a Volkswagen that claimed second fastest on the timesheet in practise. That honour went to Timmy Hansen in the electric Peugeot 208 RX1e, just 0.156 seconds off Kristoffersson. The 2019 world champion suffered a torrid time of it in 2023, his first season in years not to feature a race win, so he will be determined to get back to winning ways in 2024. His brother and teammate Kevin Hansen was 5th, 0.513 seconds of the fastest lap, but has the momentum behind him to win. Hansen was runner up in the 2023 championship, he won a superb race in Hong Kong in 2023, and is determined to overhaul Kristoffersson. Indeed, as he said to The Checkered Flag, “I’ve got a third, I’ve got a second, there’s only one remaining!

Third fastest in testing also went to an electric car, the CE Dealer Team car of Niclas Grönholm. The Finnish driver somewhat flew under the radar in 2023, despite running second to Kristoffersson for the opening part of the year and only missing out on a place in the final once in the entire year. Klara Andersson is his teammate once again, the Swedish driver tackling the tracks in the PWR RX1e. Andersson showed strong pace throughout 2023, battling with rallycross legend Sébastian Loeb in the opening round in Portugal and a achieving a season’s best finish of fourth overall in Norway. With experience under their belts, it’s time for the CE Dealer Team to come out swinging and bring the fight to their rivals.

The distinctive yellow cars of Grönholm and Andersson are back for 2024. Credit: Andre Lavadinho / @World / Red Bull Content Pool

The grid is rounded out by two more ICE cars. ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport are back in the action once again in 2024, with René Münnich piloting his very rapid SEAT Ibiza. The team showed remarkable pace throughout the year, with Timo Scheider securing a great victory in South Africa. With the German superstar absent from this year’s grid, the pressure rests solely on Münnich to continue their progress.

The final car on the grid is Sweden is that of world rallycross newcomer Anthony Pelfrene. The French driver only made his rallycross debut in 2021 before tackling the supercar class of the French Rallycross Championship in 2023, where he secured a stunning victory in only the second round of the year. For his first campaign in world rallycross, he is behind the wheel of an ICE Peugeot 208 WRX running under the banner of JDM Raptor Racing. Do not make the mistake of discounting the rookie Frenchman in his maiden year.

Up Next

The first two rounds of the 2024 FIA World Rallycross Championship take place on 6/7 July at Höljes Motorstadion in Sweden. Follow The Checkered Flag for updates on all the action.

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