|PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Media.|
The 13-strong permanent driver line-up offers up the tantalizing prospect of a title contest every bit as intense as the season-long skirmish which highlighted the 2019 edition.
Among the roster of permanent competitors, who will be joined by a number of round-by-round entries at each event, there are drivers representing eight nations, supported by world-class teams and six manufacturers keen to win the battle of the brands.
In 2019, after 196 races, including an incident-filled finale, the leading protagonists for the drivers’ title – Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud – were tied on 211 points. The trophy went to the elder Hansen – based on a countback of event victories.
So, if you thought it would be hard to surpass a season-long rivalry that went to the wire in South Africa, along comes the double World RX champion intent of adding a third title to his name. Yes, Johan Kristoffersson is back!
The record-breaking Kristoffersson claimed back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018. And, in 2019 the champion returns at the wheel of a VW Polo GTI RX for Kristoffersson Motorsport under the team banner "Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS".
As for the Hansens, Timmy, the reigning champion, is joined by younger brother Kevin, in a pair of Team Hansen Peugeot 208s in which they will also defend their teams’ championship.
Norwegian Bakkerud and Liam Doran are back with the Monster RX Cartel banner, but this time the team is being run by the French outfit GC Kompetition. This season they have swapped their EKS prepared Audi S1s for Renault Megane R.S. RXs.
While GC Kompetition's team owner Guerlain Chicherit teams up with Rokas Baciuska in a pair of Renault Clios in the GC Unkorrupted squad. Sweden’s Anton Marklund returns with GCK Bilstein and will drive an updated Renault Megane R.S. RX.
Hyundai is represented by GRX Taneco with fast Finn Niclas Gronholm and Russia’s Timur Timerzyanov behind the wheel of the i20 Supercars. Gronholm, who recorded two wins in 2019 but missed two rounds due to illness, is expected to challenge strongly for top honours as is Timerzyanov, who posted a notable maiden World RX victory at Spa-Francorchamps.
Timo Scheider returns alongside team boss Rene Muennich at the ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport outfit which will field updated and improved Seat Ibizas.
Sweden’s Robin Larsson, the 2019 FIA European Champion, steps up to World RX full time and will race an updated ex-Ekstrom Audi S1 Quattro with the JC Raceteknik team.
Apart from the permanent drivers, a number of round-by-round entries will be announced over the coming weeks.
"The 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship permanent entry list underlines the lure of World RX for both teams and drivers," said Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of Motorsports Events at IMG.
"We thought it would be tough to eclipse the drama and excitement of our 2019 season but if you look at the class of 2020, we have all the ingredients for a rivalry every bit as intense."
"Our 2020 line-up is bursting with world-class talent – including two world champions, European champions, and multiple race winners."
According to Bellamy, the 2020 season is a pivotal year as the sport of rallycross takes it first steps on the road to electrification.
"Together with the FIA we are committed to an electric future for rallycross," he said. “This year we will embark on our journey to a phased introduction of an electric world championship in 2021 by introducing the electric series Projekt E as part of that process."
"There is a huge groundswell of support for electric rallycross from teams and industry stakeholders. There is an inexorable surge towards electrification in the automotive industry and we are excited to be part of it."