|PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
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."
THE TRACK: LYDDEN HILL
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.
2023 FIA WORLD RX OF UNITED KINGDOM: ENTRY LIST
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