Oliver Bennett will return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship for the upcoming Catalunya curtain-raiser on 23/24 July, as the XITE Racing squad aims to showcase the improvements brought to their MINI Cooper Supercar since they last took to the track.
PHOTO CREDIT: Oliver Bennett.
The 28-year-old's first full World Championship campaign came in 2019, reaching the semi-final stage at Silverstone and in South Africa, while he repeated the feat in his lone appearance last year in Barcelona.
Now, Bennett is looking forward to returning to the cockpit at the same circuit in just under a month’s time, as he prepares to put his upgraded MINI through its paces.
"I’m really excited to be back in Barcelona," Bennett said. "Because of coronavirus, Spain was the only World RX round I competed in last year. Even though I hadn’t been in the car much and it was my first time in the Mini, I still made it to the semi-finals."
Since the last outing for XITE Racing in October last year, his team has updated its Mini SX1.
"The car’s had some updates and we should be getting more speed from the Mini, so I want to be looking to the semi-finals and beyond. I’ve had more seat time, done more testing, and have a really good feeling with the car," he explains.
Bennett is well aware of the challenges that he faces in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, having competed in 22 events across four seasons with his best result coming in Barcelona last year - 11th place overall.
"Obviously, this is a world championship, so we know there’s going to be a lot of quality drivers out there. Let’s see who’s coming and what they’ve got. A top-10 would be a decent result, but I’m secretly chasing the top six," he said.
"Oh, yeah. Well, a top-six would be a mega result. The main thing for me is to get back in the car. I can’t wait to be back in the Mini – it feels like I haven’t raced it for a long time now. And I like Barcelona, it’s a cool place. It’s the place I first watched a WRX race. The fans are great, the atmosphere’s really nice and it’s a pretty sick track too."
XITE Racing has confirmed that they are considering an entry in World RX of Germany at the Nürburging on July 31-August 1.
Later this season, the British team will focus their attention on the all-American Nitro Rallycross series, starting with a September season-opener in Salt Lake City. The all-American series is a five-round, coast-to-coast tour that includes action as far west as Glen Helen Raceway in California and The FIRM, Florida in the other direction.
"Nitro Rallycross is really exciting for us," Bennett says. "We’re working very hard with XITE Energy in North America right now and the chance to go out there and take the brand and the car on a tour through some of the coolest tracks in America is something I’m very excited about."
This year’s Nitro campaign is just a precursor to the real deal, as XITE Racing confirms that they are the first team to sign up for next year’s all-electric NRX series.
"The main focus of our NRX effort is looking forward to the FC1-X. The Extreme E Odyssey 21 all-electric racer is a cool thing, but this RX car is just insane," he says. "When the lights go green at NRX next year, we’ll be fired into the future by the electrical equivalent of 1000bhp."