Tuesday 25 July 2023

“We will learn from this” after devastating fire destroys Lancia Delta's and equipment.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
Lydden Hill - ‘the birthplace of rallycross’ saw the FIA World Rallycross Championship return after six long years. With excitement at a fever pitch, disaster unfortunately, struck at 8:43am on Friday morning, as a fire engulfed the Special ONE Racing service area. Fortunately, no one was injured. However, the team’s two cars, workshop trucks, and awnings were completely destroyed. 

Guerlain Chicherit going wheel-to-wheel on the Lancia's debut. 
WHERE IT BEGAN: On 23 November 2021, four-time World Freeriding Champion-turned-rally, rallycross, and stunt driver Guerlain Chicherit had the vision of reviving an iconic sports car, the Lancia Delta Integrale, which became a reality when he rolled out the first fully electric version at the final round of the 2022 World RX championship in Germany.

In its maiden outing, the Frenchman got off to a good start but was nudged into a concrete barrier. The damage meant his running on Day One was rather limited, and needed some overnight repairs. Whilst he couldn't compete for a podium in Germany. The team and car won the hearts of millions!

With unfinished business and clear goals for victories, Chicherit formed a new team – Special ONE Racing, and brought nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb on board to race the team’s second car. 

The French squad immediately showed promise making the finals with Loeb in round 1, but in order to go a step further Chicherit admitted that they needed to unlock a bit more speed. 

Having appeared in the final on three occasions this season, Special ONE Racing had their eyes firmly set on a podium finish at the British round of the championship, but sadly, it was not to be. 

“A fire broke out on Sébastien Loeb’s car. The fire quickly spread to Guerlain Chicherit's car and then to one of the team's two workshop trucks. None of the three vehicles could be saved from the flames despite the intervention of the fire brigade,” the Special ONE Racing statement said.

PHOTO CREDIT: _rallycross_ [Instagram]
“Watching our cars go up in smoke was a particularly painful moment for me and for the whole team, who had been investing so much love and energy in this programme for months,” Guerlain Chicherit said. “Aside from the material losses, I would like to point out that there were no injuries among the staff, who were very professional.”

A stewards document released on Saturday evening explained that the fire broke out at 8.43am on Friday morning, with “video evidence showing that the fire was initiated at the battery of the car while it was in the team area charging, but it is not clear why this happened. It was evident that only extremely quick thinking by the team members saved them from injury.”

The FIA immediately launched an “urgent investigation into the root cause of the incident with the cooperation of the Kent Fire service, the Lydden Hill track staff, and the championship promoter”, while battery supplier Kreisel will provide technical assistance. 

The World Rallycross Championship organizers then announced that “the investigation has not progressed far enough to determine a root cause for the fire”, and therefore “permanently stop round four of the RX1e championship for safety reasons.”

All the teams were kept informed about the progress of the investigation and fully supported the cancellation of the United Kingdom race [round 4]. 

CE Dealer Team’s Jussi Pinomäki said: “Safety is, and has always been, the number one priority and we fully support the decision of the FIA to halt the World RX race weekend in the UK for a thorough investigation to be completed.”

Whilst 14-time European Rallycross Champion Kenneth Hansen adding that: “We need to learn from what has happened and benefit from it.”

“We are sad not to have been racing this weekend, but we don’t want to risk anything. I think we can come stronger from this – not just us but the whole championship,” he said.

Having lost a large portion of its equipment and cars, Special ONE Racing made the heartbreaking announcement that “without its two cars and a large part of its equipment they will not be able to enter in the last four rounds of the 2023 FIA World Rallycross Championship season.”

“Our thoughts go out to the team who have lost their two racing cars and all other equipment. We know each other well and have good cooperation between the teams. Everyone knows how much time, money, and work has gone into producing the cars,” Tommy Kristoffersson, team principal of the Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS, said. 

“It is clear that it will be discussed, but it must be remembered that it is the first time an accident of this kind has occurred. Accidents and incidents have occurred in all types of series. Motorsport always involves a measure of risk,” he added. “Motorsport has always been a driving force in the development of the automotive industry. We compete under extreme conditions with extreme types of materials and all mistakes and errors are carefully analyzed. Let's hope that something good comes out of this in the end as well.”

The next event in the FIA World Rallycross Championship is set to take place in Mettet, Belgium in two weeks. At the point of publishing this article, there have been no updates regarding the investigation. The current intention of all teams and the organizers is for the event to go ahead as planned unless otherwise communicated. 

Thursday 20 July 2023

PREVIEW: World RX returns to the 'birthplace of rallycross' Lydden Hill after a six-year hiatus.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
Lydden Hill – the legendary ‘Birthplace of Rallycross’ – is ready to welcome World RX for the first time in six years this weekend.

Tucked away in the ‘Garden of England’, Lydden Hill was featured on the World RX calendar from 2014 to 2017. During that period, some of the biggest heroes in the sport – Petter Solberg, Mattias Ekström, and Andreas Bakkerud – triumphed at the track.

Now, somebody else is poised to add their name to that illustrious list, as the championship’s latest-generation, all-electric beasts are let off the leash in Britain for the very first time.

Reigning Champion Johan Kristoffersson will lead the charge, as he seeks to further cement himself in history with a sixth career crown. 

Three from three so far in 2023, the Super Swede has not offered his rivals so much as a crumb for comfort, and he arrives on British shores holding a 27-point margin over his closest pursuer at the summit of the standings. 

Speaking ahead of the World RX of Lydden Hill, Kristoffersson is eager to point out: "Lydden is one of few tracks where I haven't won yet."

The five-time champion adds that: "Me and Ole Christian are pushing each other to become better drivers. The combination is like with Petter and me at PSRX in 2017 and 2018. Ole also has the experience from rally to bring into the team." 

Timmy Hansen – the driver who has pushed Kristofferson hardest over the past few years – will hope for stronger results in the United Kingdom, after claiming his first podium finish of the campaign at Höljes earlier this month. 

Younger brother Kevin, meanwhile, has a particular affinity with Lydden Hill, having participated in his first proper rallycross test at the circuit in a Suzuki Swift at the age of 13.

“It’s the home of rallycross and personally, I’ve had a lot of great memories there,” Kevin said. “I essentially began my rallycross career at the track and won there in both Swifts and RX Lites, so for me, it’s great to be back.”

Since Hansen last raced at Lydden, a fair bit has changed, of course. Turn One is now banked and considerably wider than it used to be – encouraging more side-by-side battles and overtakes – and incorporates a jump on the exit, just after the merge with the all-new joker.

Three drivers with more recent experience of the circuit than most are CE Dealer Team duo Niclas Grönholm and Klara Andersson, as well as Kristoffersson’s team-mate, Ole Christian Veiby. Andersson won on her debut there in an RX150 buggy in April as part of the British Rallycross Championship curtain-raiser.

"[Lydden Hill] is an iconic track that I was lucky enough to try earlier this year with a cross-car race that I won. With good memories from the track, it will be exciting to race on such an iconic track with our all-electric PWR RX1e. I am looking forward to continuing working hard with the team, and fight for important points in the championship," Klara Andersson said.

Andersson's stablemate, and second in the championship, Niclas Grönholm reacclimatised himself with the track last year.

"It will be nice to go back to Lydden Hill after a long break from the World RX. The track has undergone some construction since its last outing in the championship, and I was lucky to drive there last year," the Finn said. "I feel that the track is now even better than before. It is time to make a proper comeback after the eventful race in Sweden, and I am looking forward to go racing again."

Ole Christian Veiby has also previously raced at Lydden Hill, and admits that the track is: "technically it's an easier track than Höljes for example, so I expect more tight racing in this round."

The Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS driver believes that he has an advantage over Kristoffersson, and targets a superpole win. "Now is the time to beat Johan in the superpole. Since Årjäng, I have a psychological advantage over him," he said.

Nine times an FIA World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb is back in action in World RX this season for the first time since 2018 – and the car he is driving, the Lancia Delta Evo-e RX, pays homage to one of the most iconic machines in WRC history.

Loeb is joined at Special ONE Racing by team-mate and compatriot Guerlain Chicherit, while for all his wealth of experience in the sport, double DTM Champion Timo Scheider (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport) has never previously competed at Lydden.

Finally, a new addition to the field by the name of Sondre Evjen who will replace Gustav Bergström at Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS this weekend. The highly-rated Norwegian was an event-winner in the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s top-tier Euro RX1 last year.

"This is going to be great fun," he said. "I have long wanted to drive one of these electric World RX cars. I have spoken to Johan and he says it's a great fun car to drive."



Lydden Hill, situated in Kent, England is the birthplace of Rallycross hosting the first ever Rallycross event in 1967, with Vic Elford taking the honours in a Porsche 911. Lydden Hill now traditionally hosts 2 rounds of the British Rallycross Championship along with the UK round of the GRC Rallycross Europe.

The track has undergone significant developments since World RX last raced at the venue, including changes to the track.

The re-profiled opening corner has increased overtaking opportunities in events run on the revised layout so far, while the large jump in the first half of the lap has added a third dimension to the challenge for drivers, and a spectacular sight for the fans.


Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS) - VW Polo RX1e

Sebastien Loeb (Special ONE Racing) - Lancia Delta Evo-e RX

Timmy Hansen (Hansen World RX Team) - Peugeot 208 RX1e

Niclas Gronholm (CE Dealer Team) - PWR RX1e

Kevin Hansen (Hansen World RX Team) - Peugeot 208 RX1e

Guerlain Chicherit (Special ONE Racing) - Lancia Delta Evo-e RX

Ole Christian Veiby (Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS) - VW Polo RX1e

Sondre Evjen (Kristoffersson Motorsport) - VW Polo RX1e

Klara Andersson (CE Dealer Team) - PWR RX1e

Timo Scheider (ALL-INLK Munnich Motorsport) SEAT Ibiza RX1e

Round 4 - World RX of United Kingdom (CAT Times)

HEAT 1: 15:40
HEAT 2: 17:40

WARM-UP: 11:30
HEAT 3: 12:10
HEAT 4: 13:50
GRID WRAP-UP SHOW: 17:00 [RX+ only]

1) Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS) - 69 POINTS

2) Niclas Gronholm (CE Dealer Team) - 42

3) Kevin Hansen (Hansen World RX Team) - 38

4) Ole Christian Veiby (Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS) - 35

5) Timmy Hansen (Hansen World RX Team) - 33

6) Timo Scheider (ALL-INLK Munnich Motorsport) - 31

7) Klara Andersson (CE Dealer Team) - 30

8) Sebastien Loeb (Special ONE Racing) - 29

9) Guerlain Chicherit (Special ONE Racing) - 27

10) Gustav Bergstrom (Kristoffersson Motorsport) - 20

Monday 3 July 2023

Kristoffersson conquers 'Magic Weekend' with third consecutive win.

Kristoffersson leads the field in wet/muddy conditions.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
Defending FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson showcased his exceptional skills once again as he claimed an emphatic victory at the World RX of Sweden in Höljes last weekend, marking his third consecutive win. 

The Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS driver's dominant performance, saw him set the fastest lap, win all four heats, his semi-final, and the all-important final to extend his lead in the championship by 27 points, making him a strong contender for a sixth-world title. 

"It's never easy and this weekend there were super difficult conditions, but it turned out to be the almost perfect weekend for me," he said. "I think this track might be the trickiest one to drive in the wet, but it’s also very rewarding when you get it right and we had great pace and good starts throughout, which was key. It’s always nice to win, of course, but to do so in Sweden in front of such a big crowd and with my family here is extra special."

The reigning champion credits his team for providing him with a fantastic car: "A big thanks to the team for a fantastic car that is easy to adapt to various conditions."

Kristoffersson took the chequered flag more than four seconds clear of closest pursuer Timmy Hansen. The 2019 world champion bounced back after a string of disappointing results in the opening two rounds at Montalegre and Hell to secure his first trophy of the season, getting the better of Ole Christian Veiby in the final to seal the runner-up spoils for Hansen World RX Team.

"So we’re doing everything we can to be winning again too. Johan [Kristoffersson] had another incredible weekend - when it started to rain today he just checked out. The battle for second though was super tight and Ole Christian [Veiby] just made a tiny error and I went on the inside. It just shows how small the margins are," Timmy Hansen said. "For the team, it’s fantastic to be back on the podium, especially considering they had to rebuild the car after the first two races. This reward is for them, and it feels like now I have started my championship."

Veiby completed the podium in third, pleased with his performance but ruing a couple of late mistakes. 

"I think we have deserved more from the first two races so it's super nice to be back on the podium. I had a great launch in the final and came out as second, but made a little mistake to let Timmy pass," Ole Christian said. "I was 0,1 seconds behind Johan in superpole last time, and 0,07 here in Höljes. Next time maybe..."

Following a difficult start to the weekend with an error in the SuperPole session and an off-track excursion in heat one, Kevin Hansen wound up fourth, winning the second semi-final but losing time behind Timo Scheider in the final after running wide on the exit of the joker.

"In the dry we were improving a lot now that we have found something that’s more comfortable to drive. In the wet we made big steps also. It’s the first time we’ve used the latest software and car setup in the wet but I did a bad launch in the final, then the wipers and washers didn’t work correctly so I couldn’t properly see, and I made a mistake in the joker. The speed after that was great and I closed on P3 but needed another lap to be able to get on the podium," Kevin Hansen said.

Both Scheider and Guerlain Chicherit saw their efforts plagued by punctures. The German managed to reach the finish line in fifth for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, but in his first final appearance of the year,  Chicherit was forced to park his Special ONE Racing Lancia Delta Evo-E RX on the second lap.

"When I started 5th in my semi-final, I had to take all the risks. At the red light, I counted to three and then dropped everything... And miraculously, it worked!" the Frenchman said. "The euphoria of being in the final only lasted 500 metres. It's a shame because I had a good rhythm on this muddy track. We still need to work on gaining confidence in our car, which is fast but very sensitive."

Neither Niclas Grönholm nor Klara Andersson progressed to the final on a frustrating weekend for CE Dealer Team by Volvo Construction Equipment.

"We struggled from start to finish this weekend, not much to say really," the Finn said. "It is a weekend to quickly forget. I am looking forward to a few weeks off, to recharge and come back stronger next time."

Whilst, it might have been a frustrating result for the team, Andersson admits the potential is there: "A tough weekend with a lot of ups and downs. It was fantastic to win the first heat, and it felt like a really good start to the weekend. Today it was raining all day, which was new for me with this type of car. So, there was a lot of learning. In the semi, it felt like we got the setup right, but unfortunately, I got a puncture. The potential is there, and we take a lot of lessons and important points with us from this weekend."

Nine-time FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb was another driver to exit proceedings at the semi-final stage. The Frenchman admits that it's quite challenging driving the Lancia Delta Evo-E RX, as small mistakes will be punished. 

"I won a heat, which proves that we can be on the pace. Starting 3rd in my semi-final, I had a good chance of qualifying, but I made two small mistakes that cost me a place," he said. The car doesn't forgive mistakes and we need to find more confidence behind the wheel. We've learnt a few things this weekend."

KMS driver Gustav Bergström had a tough weekend, arriving on Sunday, having raced in Carrera Cup on Saturday, and with some technical issues in his first heat. 

"Of course, it was difficult with the power steering issues, but my pace was good and I had the best lap time in one of my heats," Bergström said. "I was absolutely blind into the first corner of the semifinal. I tried my best all the way to get past Sébastien Loeb but it wasn't to be." 

After three championship rounds, the FIA World Rallycross heads to the United Kingdom at the iconic Lydden Hill circuit for round four later this month (July 21-23).