Thursday, 11 February 2021

World RX - The dawn of a new era.

An exciting future lays in wait as the WRC Promoter GmbH has been announced as the new promoters of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. 

One could easily associate the World Rallycross Championship with a thrilling novel that you could find at your local bookstore. But, associating a motorsport series with a book seems wrong on so many levels. So, why are we making this association, you ask? It's mainly due to IMG's tenure at the helm of the series. The former promoters built the championship from the ground up and whilst there were challenges along the way they pushed through and concurred. This makes for an incredibly exciting story don't you think?

As "chapter one" draws to a close, the reader sort of formulates an idea of what the future holds within in a story, and it develops it can only better from thereon, which is quite similar to the news that Red Bull are new promoters of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. 

Chapter Two we will see the short, sharp, and action-packed series transition from combustion engines to EV technology, and whilst the USP (Unique Selling Point) of World RX is its loud combustion engines, a push to green energy will see the sport transition to buzzing electric power from 2022.

Whilst the era of pulsating anti-lag will soon come and go. The dawn of a new era is upon us, and it's within our hands to adopt it or move on. No-one likes change including us, but as time moves on, change is necessary. It's a game of being relevant or get left behind. The world is going electric and so will rallycross in the coming years. 

The future of motorsport is electric. So, why an electric future? It's mainly because vehicle manufacturers have begun phasing in electric energy into production vehicles as they aim to become carbon neutral in the near future. The go-green or electric future has seen manufacturers enter the likes of Formula E, etc. to develop and design new forms of technology for everyday use and this is something that will be introduced in all forms of motorsport sooner than later. 

But, as we usher in a new era, we need to take a look back at where it all began back in 2013 when IMG became the promoter of FIA Rallycross (a 20-year deal). A year later, rallycross shifted to FIA World Championship status and the rest is history. 

World Championship status saw rallycross move to new territories within Europe and further afield to the likes of North and South America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. This move saw the championship grow from strength-to-strength. 

Its global expansion saw a handful of manufacturers joining the series from Volkswagen, Peugeot, Audi, and Ford supporting some of the biggest names in motorsport - Ken Block, Sebastien Loeb, and Mattias Ekstrom to name a few. 

As time evolved and a move to electric became known the atmosphere slightly changed, and as soon as manufacturer involvement came, it went as the championship announced its push to electric-powered cars, but due to a delay to the implementation of electric rallycross, which was set to be introduced in 2020. A number of manufacturers announced their withdrawal after the 2019 season. Some citing a delay of the electric push and others suggesting that it doesn't fit into their sustainability plans. 

Whilst the 2019 season was a bit of an unknown due to withdrawal from the manufacturer teams, we soon saw independent teams era, but there is no doubt that the 2019 season will go down in history as the closest and most thrilling season ever witnessed, as Timmy Hansen was crowned FIA World RX Champion based on a countback of event wins rather than championship points. 

The puzzle pieces fell into place for the 2020 season, but then the coronavirus pandemic struck leading to a delayed and rather compact season, but when it eventually got underway double World Champion Johan Kristoffersson came out on top to claim a third world title. 

2021 will be a transitional year as Red Bull enter the series, with a different approach and mindset, but their knowledge should not be underestimated as they have been a promoter of WRC for some years now. So, their knowledge and no-how will be welcomed in a push to further grow the World Rallycross Championship. 

But in the same breathe as being genuinely excited about the WRC Promoter GmbH's involvement, we should actually applaud IMG at the same time for its bold and successful strategy of growing rallycross globally. 

Some of their decisions might not have gone down well with the fan base whilst others were simply forward-thinking. Many fans would agree that the free online live streams lead by Neil Cole, Laura Winter, and commentators Andrew Coley and Dan Rooke brought them a lot closer to the sport compared to many other motorsport series. It's something we can truly be thankful for! 

As we usher in change... We need to remain open minded, as the new promoter will have to learn a bit about the sport before implementing change. So, 2021 will be a transitional year but they have the potential to take World RX to much bigger heights than before, and we can't wait!

Will anything change on the commentary or broadcasting front? We certainly hope not, as Andrew Coley (lead commentator) and Dan Rooke are an incredible duo in the commentary box, along with lead TV anchors Neil Cole and Laura Winter.

As for the future of World Rallycross, we spoke to three-time World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson to get his viewpoint on the future of the sport, and he firmly believes that the new promoters should immediately start working towards the electric future of the sport, as he believes its crucial. 

"As soon as we get a new promoter. They should start to work towards the electric future and make a decision quite soon on what's going to happen," he said. "So, that teams can prepare for 2022, I think is more crucial."

The three-time World Champion went on further to say that the new promoter should make the cars more extreme and difficult to drive when the sport makes the transition to EV technology in 2022. 

"If and when it goes electric, I think it's very important that the cars should be extreme, difficult for the drivers to control and faster than current cars," he adds. "With the lack of anti-lag sound, the fans need something extra to make it exciting!"

The future is here, so let's embrace it!

Written By - Junaid Samodien

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