Thursday 14 March 2019

2019 Australian GP: Drivers' Press Conference.

PART ONE: DRIVERS – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari), Daniel RICCIARDO (Renault), Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing), Robert KUBICA (Williams)

We’re gathered under very sad circumstances, following the news that Charlie Whiting, the FIA’s Director of Formula One died during the early hours of this morning. I’d like to start this press conference by asking each of the drivers present for their thoughts and memories of Charlie. Lewis, could we start with you, please?

Lewis HAMILTON: I’ve known Charlie since I started in 2007. I made some comments this morning on my Instagram. It may have not worked, as I think it’s down but obviously incredibly shocked this morning to hear the sad news and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. What he did for this sport, I mean, his commitment… he really was a pillar, as Toto said, such an iconic figure in the sporting world and he contributed so much for us, so may he rest in peace.

Q: Sebastian?

Sebastian VETTEL: Well I guess I was as shocked as we all are still now, when I head the news this morning, especially because I spoke to him yesterday and walked the track for the first couple of corners together with him. Difficult to grasp when somebody is just not there anymore. To add to what Lewis said. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s sort of been our man, the driver’s man. Obviously there are regulations and all that and then there is us and he was the middleman. He was someone you could ask anything of, anytime. He was open to everyone at any time. His door was always open. He was a racer. He was just a very nice guy. Shocked. I don’t think there’s that much to add. I think all our thoughts, the whole paddock, the whole circus, the whole family of Formula One; all our thoughts are with him and especially with his family in these difficult circumstances.

Q: And Robert?

Robert KUBICA: Well, as Seb says, and Lewis, it’s a hard moment. I saw Sebastian walking with Charlie yesterday and I thought I would not interrupt them because I would see him on Friday at the Drivers’ Briefing. Unfortunately this will not be the case. It’s very sad. He was kind of an icon of Formula One. He was, as Sebastian said, a racer, but also keeping up everything in the regulations. He was really the kind of a person you could always trust and commit. A very sad moment. My thoughts are with his family, but that’s how it is unfortunately.

Q: And Max, please?

Max Verstappen: I think as everybody said, I think it was a big shock, also because I spent the day with him in Geneva a few weeks ago and we had a good chat, just about a lot of things. When I left at the time, I was like “see you in Australia for another season of racing” and when you hear this news it‘s just unbelievable – just 66 years old. I guess we just have to appreciate every day and every morning you wake up and that you enjoy life, and that it’s not only about Formula One but there are a lot of other things in life and this is just one part of it. And yeah, I think at the moment what is most important is that the thoughts are going to his family and friend and close ones.

Q: And Daniel?

Daniel RICCIARDO: I echo everything. Not the nicest news to walk into. Taken aback by it, for sure. I’ll try to make it slightly more positive. As Seb said, he was there for us, and we gave him a hard time. We would really press him and push him and make him work, but he was always really receptive and you always felt like he was on our side. I guess we were like a broken record with a lot of the things we would complain about but he never really shut it down. He was always ears open. I think he did a lot for the sport. We’ll have some very nice and positive memories of him. I remember my first Aussie GP, in 2012, going up. I remember we were with Franz and he goes “go and introduce yourself to Charlie; it’s the start of a new season” and start the relationship on a good news. Time goes fast, but as Max touched on, it’s important just to appreciate it, each moment. You do take it for granted. I’m sure we’ll all race with a lot of passion this weekend and it’s just a reminder as well that we are all very lucky to be in this position.

REST IN PEACE Charlie Whiting.
Q: Thank you all five of you. A couple more questions now to each of you, and Daniel, we’ll stay with you. Your home race, it’s always a busy build-up but how have the last few days been for you?

DR: Busy! But it’s alright; I’m actually used to it now. It’s expected. But, you know, busy is good; it means people car and that they’re excited about the start of the season. A lot of things have changed. I’ve changed team and that’s created a lot of other change within the F1 paddock and other drivers moving teams. It’s been a pretty cool and pretty busy off-season for sure. Done some activities – drove a V8 Supercar yesterday; Max was saying he was a passenger today in one, so just chatting a little bit about that. It’s fun. It’s fun when you can balance some of the not so fun media commitments with a little bit of enjoyment. But now we’re getting close. We’re within 24 hours of driving the car, so excited to get on track, but also excited to see the pecking order. I think we could draw some conclusions from testing but not much, so we’ll see where we stands.

Q: I was going to ask you about the conclusions from testing. How close are Renault to the top three teams now?

DR: Not sure… Not sure, so we’ll see how we go. The second week, the last couple of days, we had a few new parts on the car and they seem more promising for our development, so that was encouraging. I think we left the test more encouraged. We’ll see. Judging the top three cars, I don’t even know where they stand at the moment, but yeah, a few more days and you’ll know.

Q: Thank you, Daniel. Robert, coming to you: it’s your first race since 2010, can you describe your emotions heading into this weekend?

RK: Yeah, it has been a long time, a long time away from the sport. Emotions… to be honest there is not really a lot of time to think about them, you are focused on the job, focused on the things to do. Try to learn as much as you can about new F1. Things have changed quite a lot since I was racing here last time. Just trying to prepare; trying to be ready. We didn’t have a the perfect start to winter testing, so there are a lot of things to be checked, to see how they will be and yeah, let’s see.

Q: As you said, it was a difficult period for the team in winter testing – the car arrived late in Barcelona. What’s a realistic goal for you and the team?

RK: Unfortunately we were late for the winter testing and it’s not like you recover this delay in one week, so there are still things being sorted out. The guys are pushing really hard, especially on track but also in factory. It is a difficult period but we have to make sure we are doing everything we can in the current situation. We cannot change it, so we have to make we concentrate on what we have. There is no point in wasting energy or time and then thinking of a difficult job. We just need to do our job and this is the approach of each member of the team we are having. We have to make sure we maximize our opportunities from what we have.

Q: Max, coming to you, the management at Red Bull Racing has been very bullish about the new package, what are your thoughts?

MV: I guess we’ll find out, won’t we? I think so far, we had a good winter test, not too many issues, and I was just very happy about how everybody was working together, which I think is very important, and a good start. Of course, integrating the new engine into the chassis but it didn’t seem like it was giving us problems, so very happy about that. I could do most of my running, so that was very positive but in terms of performance, I think it’s a bit difficult to judge at the moment where we exactly are. I didn’t have any time to do performance runs, or whatever but yeah, we’re happy with what we did. Of course, I think it can always be better, I think everybody has that thoughts. I guess here – but not only here in Melbourne – we’ll find out throughout the beginning of the season where we will stand.

Q: What’s the atmosphere like in the team at the moment, with the new partnership with Honda. Do you feel it’s a bit more bullish that it was in the recent past?

MV: I think everybody’s just very motivated, very positive and very focused on the job as well.

Q: Sebastian, coming to you, fastest in winter testing. Do you feel you’re in a better position now than you were at this time last year?

SV: Yeah. Quite frankly because I think last year’s winter testing didn’t go well for us and we actually had some issues with the car to fix and obviously we got a bit lucky during the race weekend with the safety car to grab the win – but yeah, I think in this regard we are more prepared. Our car seems to work fine: no problems at this stage. Having said that, obviously we can’t do better than last year’s result. So, it’s a tough weekend ahead of us. Always the start, you’re a bit nervous, you don’t know exactly where you are. You don’t know what’s going to happen but yeah, I think we are… y’know… the spirit is good, the atmosphere is good, we’re happy to be here and start racing.

Q: And just a quick word on the technical regulation changes that have happened over the winter. Do you feel that it’ll be possible to follow another car closer this year than last year?

SV: Well, testing isn’t about following other cars and overtaking. So I didn’t get much of that – but it didn’t seem to make a difference. Hopefully it turns out to be better and easier this year. We will see. Obviously the DRS is a bit different. It’s a bit bigger delta – so let’s see. I didn’t have that much experience in testing to make a full conclusion.

Q: Lewis, difficult to read Mercedes’ testing form. What’s your take on it?

LH: I don’t think there’s much to… it’s not difficult to read it. I think it was quite clear, however it’s difficult to know what everyone’s doing, so naturally we won’t fully know until we get out in the car tomorrow and, come qualifying you get a better picture, and usually, over the first few races is when you really start to get an idea of where everyone stands – but we said that we have work to do and we weren’t talking BS. We have work to do.

Q: From an internal point of view, how important has continuity been – both stability on the driving front and the technical front?

LH: On the driving front, continuity is what works. We have a great pairing and I think the contribution Valtteri and I together, it’s worked well for years and there’s no reason to change it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In terms of the team, we’ve got so many incredible people within the team, and the energy… it’s inspiring to see so many people so pumped, pulling together. The communication is better than ever. Just after the test I went back, and Toto rallied the troops and we all sat together and it’s really impressive to see so many people so passionate about their jobs and so passionate about racing and wanting to do a better job and always wanting to improve. And knowing where they can improve – it’s really, really cool to see. Really encouraging. I just know they’re the soldiers. They’re the real, true fighters within the team, and I know they’re going to be giving absolutely everything to make sure that we continue to progress.


Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Lewis, you talked about the need to improve after testing. Valtteri said he’s already seen improvements from you guys. Do you share that confidence, do you think that they’ve already found gains? And for Seb, you talked about being more prepared this year. Does it feel different coming here, arguably as the hunted rather than the hunter?

LH: Well, naturally after a test, you always improve the next day as the car gets older and older throughout the test. It wears and then you go away, you analyse where you’ve been. New information gets put in the wind tunnel, the engineers have new information and they work upon it. So, everyone takes a step after testing. The car will be fresher here, we’ll have a much better understanding of it – but I think it’s the same for everyone. We didn’t bring upgrades. It will be interesting to see how the Red Bull upgrade works, and I know some other people, Ferrari usually bring an upgrade for the first race, so it’ll be interesting to see.

SV: Well, at this point, I think we are all hunters and all hunted. We have zero points. At this point I don’t feel like either. But hopefully going away from here we’ll be in the position of the hunted. That’s the target.

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Sebastian. Your team boss has said that, in particular situations, you’ll be favoured. What do those particular situations mean? In what way will you be favoured at the start of the season?

SV: I don’t think there’s much point in going into certain situations. I think it’s very clear, and I think Mattia also made it very clear, we are free to race, free to race each other. I think Charles will do his best to help himself  and help the team and that’s the same for me. I will do my best to help myself and to help the team. So, in the end we’re racing for Ferrari and that means we try to get Ferrari back to where we’ve been trying to get it back to for the last couple of years. That’s the main priority and the rest, it’s a long, long season and I think it’s a bit pointless at this point to start pointing out certain scenarios.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action / Speed Sport) If I could ask all of your briefly, what do you think of the new rule of a point for fastest lap?

MV: I don’t know. I think it can be nice but it can also work against you maybe when you’re fighting for a title – but I guess time will tell how it’s all going to work out – but for sure you can play a bit with it, as a team.

LH: It’s 21 extra points, so I think it’ll be interesting to see how people try to get those points, so it should be interesting.

DR: Yeah. At first, when I just heard, I thought it was the whole… it’s good that they’ve restricted it to the top ten. So you do have something potentially to lose if you go in to pit for a fresh set of tyres to get the fastest lap. Yeah, we’ll see. Haven’t really thought that much about it. See how it plays out. I don’t think it will decide a championship – could do, but I don’t think it will.

SV: I don’t know. I don’t expect much change. We’ll see after a couple of races if there is actually a change.

RK: I think unfortunately it doesn’t affect us a lot. At least for now. But yeah, extra point. It can unlock some strange scenarios at the end of the race with some cars pitting and it will open up. We’ll see three, four cars suddenly coming in. It will depend. It will be a kind of domino. But as I said, I was not really interested about it.

Q: (Alessandro Sala – Talking about the hunter equation for Mr Crocodile Daniel. 1980, Alan Jones, the last Aussie to win in Australia. After 40 years, it’s time to try, with the permission of some of the other guys, to win. We hope to see a good dive in the Albert Park lake. Do you?

DR: With myself, not with my car right? I might need some help from some others, probably, this early in the season – but yeah, there’s a chance of some overtakes. I think early on there won’t be too many front row starts. So they’ll certainly be some cars in front. The win might be optimistic in a few days’ time but yeah, being the hunter, that’s still going to be a lot of fun this year. Try to keep that up. More than ever with, I guess, probably the midfield battles we’ll be in initially. That’ll be cool. Does that answer your question? I’ll try to win, of course.

They’re already kind of crazy, Australians but yeah, if we could pull that off, lock your doors.

Q: (Joost Nederpelt – NU.NL) Max, you said some things could have been better. What could have been better?

MV: Some things. I cannot go into detail, can I? No, I can’t.

SV: Otherwise what? Daniel comes after you with his knife!

Q: (Giles Richards – Guardian) Lewis and Sebastian, how important to each of you is it to stamp your authority for the championship early on this season, in these opening four races?

LH: It’s a long season, so I don’t particularly feel it’s the most important thing. I think it’s really about finishing races and analysing and making sure you are getting as many points as you can, of course, but I’m not really one for needing to stamp authority.

SV: Yeah, pretty much the same. I don’t think we will win it here, I don’t think we will lose it here. It’s a long way. Hopefully, we have a strong package, a strong team that carries us into a position at the end of the year to fight for it.

Q: (Stylianos Alepidis – Sebastian, the last couple of championships you did not reach your target. You had the weight on your shoulders from the Italian media about the expectations of the tifosi. Now under the new leadership of Mr Binotto, do you think that with the new attitude of the communications department towards the media that the more intense later stages of the championship will pan out somehow differently?

SV: I’m not sure the media is going to make a big difference unless you can somehow transfer points to my account. I think it’s a new year, obviously (there have been) some changes. Of course we will be focused trying to do our job as good as we can. I think there’s a lot of passion inside this team that’s willing to get out and expressing ourselves, I think, through winning, is the best we can do so that’s the target but as I said, there’s so many races, such a long way, so many things we are depending on but as much as we can control things we try to take them in our hand and get our job done. As I said, so far the atmosphere is good, the spirit is right inside the team and yeah, we try to carry that into the season. In terms of expectations, I think it’s normal when you finished second the year before that the way to look at it is that it is a disaster because you finished second so in that way, finishing second, third or fourth is all the same disaster. The winner takes it all, so in that case Lewis has been in that position the last years and we try to turn it around.

Q: (Rene Oudman – Racing News 365) The first Grand Prix of the season means the end of the winter break, a time in which you have more spare time. What was the nicest, funniest or weirdest thing you’ve done in the winter of 2018/2019?

RK: Complicated.

SV: You had a longer winter break though.

RK: Yeah, I did have a bit longer than the others. Actually this winter was quite busy so… I think starting working with the team, knowing that you will be a race driver definitely makes a big difference to the past seven winters. The nicest one, probably, was a week of cycling, which was nice, combining a bit of hobby training with pleasure.

SV: I don’t know. I guess just spending time at home, making my own breakfast which I quite enjoy. Yeah, pretty boring maybe but I enjoyed it. Went skiing a couple of times, the weather was good, the snow was good.

DR: Similar, just being home and it’s summer for me so… yeah, Australia. Actually what was really nice as well was I didn’t go to an airport for six weeks and that was… I think that was the longest in ten years that I’ve been off a plane, so that was actually really pleasant. I enjoyed being outdoors. I got the bikes and mountains bikes. I feel like doing things that move fast, just that sort of stuff, hanging out with friends, maybe snapping the neck off a couple of beers but that’s about it. Makes more sense when you drink it… But yeah, just literally switching off especially after last year, that was important for me to wind down.

Can I just lighten things up as well? Robert mentioned that he’s had a pretty long winter break. I don’t think we all know to the extent of what he’s been through to get back here, so I just think it’s awesome to see him back. I’ve known him from when I moved to Europe back in 2007 which feels like a long time but yeah, just a testament to his character and I won’t ask for everyone to applaud but I really think it’s awesome for him to be here. We can applaud, yeah.

LH: I don’t really remember a lot of it. I mean the winter break finished quite a while ago, since we got… February, once you’re back in the factory and working with the team, focused on making sure that you’re fit and ready for the first race ended a while ago so it feels like a long long time ago but there’s skydiving. Done some surfing. I wanted to do it here but I couldn’t find a netted area to go to. I just can’t go where there are sharks, man, and every Australian I meet they’re like ‘nah, nah, you’ll be alright. If a shark comes up to you, punch it in the face.’ Australians are really kind of crazy, huh?

DR: I’d like to say I’d do the same but no, they scare me too.

LH: But yeah, otherwise pretty much the same as everyone else. The break is a really precious time you get to spend with family and friends and it’s the time you don’t get to think about racing and then once the season starts you’re on tour the whole year and you never really lose sight of your targets.

MV: I guess I like mid- to end-of December is a bit of time off and you can spend time with family and friends but from like January onwards it’s just training so I don’t feel like it’s a break any more because you’re just busy. Some more exciting things happened, some less exciting things happened but should I share them? I don’t think so.

Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) Lewis, as has been mentioned, Ferrari have said they will favour Sebastian at certain times. Have there been any similar conversations at Mercedes or are you guys just free to race?

LH: We’re free to race like every single year so that was even said at the beginning of… back at the factory and it’s repeated today and that’s how I like it. It means we both have a fair shot but it’s been the same every single year and it’s only to a point where one driver doesn’t have the chance to win the champion any more if we’re lucky enough to be in that position and things shift but generally we’re always free to race so I think that’s great.


Wednesday 13 March 2019

Sébastien Loeb Racing to compete 2019 World RX season.

Sébastien Loeb Racing has today announced their intention to compete in the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship

Despite Sébastien Loeb Racing not being announced as permanent entrants for the 2019 World RX season. Dominique Heintz, team boss has confirmed that the team will remain involved in the championship by competing in several rounds. 

"We will be present on several rounds that have yet to be selected and we have already done some tests. Today we have two cars in the workshop ready to roll," said Heintz"We are convinced that this discipline (rallycross) has a great future and we will remain present."

The French squad is yet to confirm their driver line-up, and the cars they will use for the several rounds. 

Nine-time Rally champion Sébastien Loeb was left without a seat at the end of the 2018 season when Peugeot Sport announced their withdrawal from the World RX championship. 

 "Everyone has suffered from the withdrawal of Peugeot, not only me after all the manufacturers had withdrawn," said Sébastien Loeb

The French legend believes that World RX has a good future ahead and he wants to remain in the discipline. 

"We will continue to get involved in RX because it is a discipline in which we believe," he adds. 

"The championship has refocused a little more on fans, but this championship will have a future with the electric because this technology perfectly suits the races. It is also a project for our team."

TEXT - Junaid Samodien
QUOTES - AutoHebdo.fr

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Nitiss and Try joins line-up for World RX season opener in Abu Dhabi.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
The FIA World Rallycross Championship has revealed a 17-car strong line-up for round one of the Championship in Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi night race will see the semi-finals held as night falls, and the final held in the dark, under lights at the famous Formula 1 circuit.

Following the official release of the 2019 permanent FIA World RX entries, Team STARD entered a second car, but the second driver was not announced at the time. 

With the release of the 2019 World RX of Abu Dhabi entry list, its somewhat confirmed that Norway’s Pal Try will join Janis Baumanis at Team STARD in the second new Ford Fiesta.

Reigning FIA European Rallycross Champion Reinis Nitiss will make his debut for the GRX Taneco team in the first round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Abu Dhabi.

Nitiss will join his GRX Taneco teammates, Niclas Gronholm and Timur Timerzyanov in the first of his selected rounds this season. The third Hyundai i20 Supercar has been entered as GRX SET

“I'm really looking forward to competing in the Hyundai i20 for the first time," said Nitiss.

"Combined with the all-new Yas Marina RX track the season opener will be a great and exciting challenge, especially as the first night race,” he adds. 

This will be the first time a rallycross event takes place in the evening and the track will be artificially lit.”

TEXT BY - Junaid Samodien

ENTRY LIST - FIA World Rallycross Media. 

MERCEDES-AMG F1: How Does an F1 Steering Wheel Work?

The Steering wheel of the early Formula 1 cars vs. the Modern era steering wheel.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Media
TEXT BY - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

Formula One cars are very complex machines - even their steering wheels are not exactly self-explanatory at first glance. So, we're taking a closer look at F1 steering wheels, some of their many functions and how exactly they are designed and built. 

How many buttons and switches does an F1 steering wheel have and what do they do? 
Our 2019 steering wheel has a total of 25 buttons and switches and, of course, the clutch and the shift paddles. Five of those buttons and switches change the brake settings of the car: the driver can shift the brake balance from the front to the rear or vice versa, to optimise the brake balance for an individual corner, change the amount of engine braking or adjust the brake migration, which is a dynamic change of the brake balance depending on how hard the driver brakes. Another three switches control the differential - the amount of torque transfer between the rear wheels - for the entry, the apex and the exit of a corner. The rest of the buttons and switches have a variety of different purposes, from adjusting the settings of the Power Unit to changing the data that is displayed on the screen, activating the radio or the pit lane speed limiter. The Drag Reduction System (DRS), which will have an even stronger effect in 2019 due to the bigger rear wings, can also be activated at the push of a button.

What are the most important buttons? 
The importance of the button depends on the situation. If, for example, a driver can't hear his race engineer anymore, the volume control of the radio suddenly becomes very important. If you were to ask a driver which button he thinks is the most important, he'd probably choose the "Strat" switch as it has a big impact on the performance of the car. It controls the Power Unit modes and will impact both the performance of the internal combustion engine as well as the deployment of electrical energy of the MGU-K and change the recovery of energy of both MGU-K and MGU-H. Since there are different mileage allocations for each strategy mode to balance performance and reliability, the driver will usually be told by his race engineer which "strat mode" he should use at a given time. 

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport steering wheel explained.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Media
What functions on the steering wheel are used the most? 
The most used functions of the steering wheel are by far the actual steering itself as well as gear changes. On a typical lap in Melbourne, for example, the driver will use the shift paddles around 50 times. 15 shift indicator LEDs located above the central display help him to find the ideal shift point. In addition to steering and shifting, an F1 driver will make a number of adjustments to the brake balance, fine-tuning the car to different corner characteristics. 

What is an F1 steering wheel made of? 
There are a number of materials used in a steering wheel, but the main materials are carbon fibre, fibreglass, silicon, titanium and copper. Those five components are the main ingredients of the several hundred individual parts that form the bigger components inside an F1 steering wheel. The majority of those components - the circuitry, the circuit boards, the carbon enclosure, the quick release, the electrical connectors and the steering itself - are built in-house in our factory in Brackley. Only two components, the central display and the underlying circuit board, are not built in Brackley as they are common parts shared by all teams. 

Has the steering wheel changed compared to last year's? 
Our 2019 steering wheel is an evolution of last year's design. We have made some changes, but most of them won't be visible from the outside. 

Are the drivers involved in the design process of a steering wheel? 
Yes, in fact they're quite heavily involved in the design process because the wheels are custom-built to their individual needs. Both the ergonomics of the wheel, and the physical layout of the shape and the grips are fitted to their hands, and the way they like to interact with the steering wheel. Those changes are not just made at the beginning of the season. The steering wheel design is a continuous process. During the season, drivers might ask for changes to the grips and the layout of the buttons and switches - based on the individual demands of the driver and the track layout. 

How difficult is it to interact with the different buttons when the car is going at full speed? 
Very difficult. A Formula One car is not only very fast, but also subject to heavy vibrations, particularly at circuits with a relatively bumpy surface. The fact that the drivers wear gloves and that the buttons are relatively small, doesn't make the operating the wheel any easier. But there are a number of things that make manipulating the various buttons and switches a little easier. To reduce the risk of accidentally hitting the wrong button, the team uses buttons that are also used on airplanes. These high-reliability buttons are not only made to endure a high number of actuations, they also require a strong tactile force and give the driver a sold click feedback when he presses them. The team has also installed small plastic rims around certain buttons to minimise the risk of hitting a button on accident. The layout of those rims can change on a race-by-race basis. They are particularly important for tight turns like the hairpin in Monaco when the drivers use the maximum steering angle. Additionally, the team always has a watchful eye over the data and can inform the driver immediately should he accidentally choose a wrong setting. 

How many steering wheels does a driver have? 
Over the course of a season, each driver will get three to four wheels. One wheel takes about 80 hours to build. Mechanical designers, electrical designers and wiring technicians are involved in the design and build process. 

Wednesday 6 March 2019

World RX unveils a 16-car entry list for 2019 season

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media
The list of permanent drivers entered for this season's FIA World Rallycross Championship has been released, where six two-car teams and four individual entries will contest all 10 rounds of the championship.

A total of 16 permanent drivers representing eight automotive brands will battle for World RX title, in what has been billed as the most competitive season yet. 

The entry list features some familiar names among teams and drivers and offers the chance for a number of young guns to make their mark in the championship. 

Likely to have strong claims on the title, is the eye-catching pairing of Liam Doran and World RX front-runner Andreas Bakkerud who join forces in Audi S1 Quattro Supercars in the newly-formed Monster Energy RX Cartel team

The Hansen brothers, Timmy and Kevin, sons of Kenneth, the most successful rallycross driver to date with 14 FIA European Rallycross titles, will compete in a pair of Peugeot 208s under the Team Hansen MJP banner. 

In 2018, Timmy, finished a solid sixth in the 2018 world championship, while Kevin was highly impressive en route to eighth place last year. 

Marcus Gronholm’s GRX Taneco team will field a pair of Hyundai i20s for the highly-experienced Timur Timerzyanov who is joined on the regular team roster by Niclas Gronholm. 

Niclas will seek to build on his impressive 2018 season in which he made the final four times and was clearly best of the non-factory drivers.

Reinis Nitiss will combine development driver duties for GRX Taneco with appearances at selected rounds – the first of which is likely to be the World RX of Abu Dhabi next month.

Building on their successful debut season in 2018, the French outfit GC Kompetition will field four permanent drivers in 2019.

Team owner Guerlain Chicherit, is joined by former European Rallycross Champion Anton Marklund of Sweden in Renault Megane R.S. RX Supercars.

As part of an initiative to create a pathway for promising junior rallycross talent, in the sister GCK Academy team - RX2 graduates Cyril Raymond of France and Belgium’s Guillaume De Ridder - will be at the wheel of Renault Clios. 

As first revealed in January, Latvia’s Janis Baumanis will represent Austrian team STARD in a Ford Fiesta, supported by Ford Performance. He will be joined in a second STARD car with a driver yet to be named. 

The four individual entries will compete for the drivers’ title but do not claim team points.

Britain’s Oliver Bennett, who competed in selected World RX and ARX events in 2018, will pilot the Xite Racing Mini Cooper in his first full world championship season.

Former DTM champion Timo Scheider, who made a series of World RX outings in 2018 for ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport, carries the German team’s hopes for the entire season in an all-new Seat Ibiza. He will be joined by team owner Rene Munnich at selected events. 

Krisztian Szabo competes for EKS Sport, winners of both the drivers’ and teams’ titles in 2016. The Hungarian will drive a Audi S1 Quattro Supercar.

19-year-old Lithuanian Rokas Bacisuka, the current FIA European Rallycross Champion in Super 1600, and will drive for ESmotorsport – Labas Gas in their newly built and developed Skoda Fabia Supercar.

In addition to the competitive entry list, Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of IMG Motorsports (World RX promoters) has revealed that the 2019 season will also see increased connectivity with fans. 

“We will continue to innovate in 2019 by extending our live streaming offer as we seek to broaden our fan appeal,” said Bellamy

 “Last season we attracted over 400,000 views per race weekend on live streaming and our social media presence continues to grow. The nature of World RX, short, all-action races, the longest of which is just over five minutes, is very enticing for younger fans in this time-poor world we live in.”

TEXT BY - Junaid Samodien @JunaidSamodien_

Hansen Motorsport joins forces with MJP Austria Team to make World RX comeback in 2019.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
Hansen Motorsport has opened a new chapter today, as the team confirms their official entry in the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship. 

The Swedish team joins forces with Max Pucher's MJP Team Austria, and the team will race under the banner - Team Hansen MJP.

Team Hansen MJP will field a pair of Peugeot 208 RX Supercars for the Hansen brothers, Timmy and KevinThe Swedes will compete in both the World RX and GRC Europe championships in 2019. 

The future of Hansen Motorsport seemed bleak over four months ago when Peugeot Sport announced their withdrawal from the World Rallycross Championship. 

Team Principal Kenneth Hansen, holder of 14 FIA European Rallycross Championship titles has described the 2019 World RX entry, as the most challenging in the Scandinavian team's history.

“The months following Peugeot Sport’s decision to close their RX activity – which saw the Hansen family stranded without a team and programme – have been some of our toughest ever,” said Kenneth Hansen

“Since then, with a commitment deeply rooted in our love for rallycross, Hansen Motorsport has used almost every single waking hour to find ways and possibilities to get a team and budget together to be able to return to World RX."

"It was a real last-minute agreement, but we are here and ready to race with a small yet efficient team. To be able to contest not just one but two major international rallycross series this year is a dream come true. You really can’t wipe the smiles off our faces at the moment!" he concludes. 

Timmy Hansen has claimed five victories and 24 podium finishes since the series inception in 2014, and he claimed the 2015 World Championship runners-up spot, the same year that Hansen Motorsport claimed the teams' title.  

“It feels like it’s been a long winter since our last rallycross race in South Africa in November, so it’s brilliant to confirm that we’ll be back in the World Championship,” said Timmy Hansen. “For a long time, we genuinely weren’t sure if we were going to make it or not so it’s a huge relief to know we will be there and I couldn’t be more excited right now."

Hansen is raring to go racing and believes that the 2019 World RX season is going to be competitive. 

“Looking at the drivers and teams confirmed so far, it’s shaping up to be a competitive season with a very level playing field," he said. "The addition of a couple of new tracks only adds to the unpredictability, but I have a fantastic team of people around me, the 208 WRX is a great car that I feel very comfortable in."

Timmy's younger brother Kevin Hansen already has a long career in rallycross under his belt, going all the way back to 2013 and yielding titles in the RX Lites Cup and FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars – the latter earning him the most coveted award of all for newcomers, the FIA Rookie of the Year Award in 2016.

“It feels amazing to return to World RX as a proper family team,” says Kevin Hansen. “We have worked so hard to make this happen, and to finally be able to say I’m a driver for Team HANSEN MJP is crazy. Wow – what a journey we’ve been on."

“After two full seasons in World RX, I really feel that I’ve found my feet in the series and that I’m capable of taking on the very best drivers in the discipline. The next step is to begin pushing for podium finishes."

"That’s clearly going to be no easy task with so many quick drivers, teams and cars signed up, but it’s what I need to be aiming for and if I can achieve podiums, why not target a first win..?" said Kevin.

TEXT BY - Junaid Samodien

Reigning European RX Super1600 Champion Rokas Baciuska makes leap to World RX with ESMotorsport-Labas Gas

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
Reigning European Rallycross Champion in Super1600 Rokas Baciuska will compete in the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship with ESmotorsport-Labas GAS

Baciuska will drive the newly built Skoda Fabia Supercar.

ESmotorsport-Labas GAS team founder and former rallycross driver, Ernestas Staponkus has revealed that his team has covered over 1,000kms in testing in 2018 and has prepared well for the challenges ahead.

“We developed our car with the help of many different drivers from different categories, not only rallycross. But at the end we decided to start with young talent from our country," Staponkus said.

“Last year, Rokas Baciuska won European Rallycross Championship in the Super1600 class," he adds. "We are sure that he will be able to fight with the fastest drivers in the world this season.”

The young  Lithuanian is looking forward to his first World Rallycross season. 

“From the very first full season in Super1600 class I won the European rallycross championship straight away," said Baciuska. "Of course, I don’t expect to do the same this season in World RX, but we will fight for the highest places. Not from the very first race maybe but during the season we believe we can go to fight for the podium.”

Staponkus has also revealed that the ESmotorsport-Labas GAS team are working on a second car that will be driven by Kevin Abbring. 

“The second car is on the way. We want to introduce it in World RX during the season and to be able to fight for the team championship from the next season," said Staponkus.

“To my mind Kevin Abbring is one of the fastest drivers in World Rallycross. He can win World Championship and we are happy that he will try to do it with us,” he concludes.

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday 5 March 2019

GC Kompetition expands to a four-car World RX entry

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media
GC Kompetition (GCK) rallycross team has revealed a four-car line-up for the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship.

The GCK team will grow their operation to include four permanent drivers in 2019. The four-car line-up will be split into two separate but permanent teams - GCK and GCK Academy

Guerlain Chicherit (team owner) will be partnered by European Rallycross Champion Anton Marklund. The pair will be competing in Pro-drive built and developed GCK Megane R.S. RX Supercars. 

The all-new GCK Academy team will field RX2 Champion Cyril Raymond and RX2 Vice-Champion Guillaume de Ridder who will compete in a 2019 evolution of the successful GCK Renault Clio R.S. RX Supercars

FORS Performance has been appointed by the GCK team to facilitate all its race operations from 2019 for both teams.

Chicherit has revealed that he has created the "GCK Academy" team with a vision to provide an opportunity for junior drivers to compete on the world championship stage. 

“2019 is a really big year for GCK," said  Chicherit. "We debuted the team in the FIA World Rallycross Cham­pionship in 2018 and have been working really hard to further develop the GCK Megane R.S. RX, the first car to have been designed and built from scratch to compete in rallycross."

“To now enter the Championship with four cars is a big step," he adds. "It allows me to compete in the GCK Megane R.S. RX alongside Anton who I’ve been working with clo­sely over the last few months but also to support two super talented junior drivers in Cyril and Guillaume to develop in a World Championship driving the GCK Clio R.S. RX. I’m really excited to see what the season will bring.”

Swede Anton Marklund has been working with the GCK outfit since July 2018 and has helped the team develop the cars for the 2019 campaign.

“I raced the GCK Megane in the last three races of the 2018 season and worked with Guerlain to further put together a development list for the car," said Marklund. "Then FORS Performance offered me to help them develop the GCK Clio during the winter which means I got to spend a lot of time and work closely with the team operating the cars this year."

“With all those opportunities ahead of this season, I already feel very much at home in the team. I’m sure that with the development and preparations we all have done during the winter, we have a good chance to race for top spots in the 2019 season," the Swede concluded. 

Following a successful 2018 rookie season in the FIA European Rallycross Championship, Cyril Raymond has set his sights on consistently competing for top six positions in 2019, and working closely with his new team-mate de Ridder to bring success to the GCK Academy programme.

“My vision for 2019 is to improve my driving in Supercars and to be a good teammate,” the Frenchman said. “I would like to show my potential behind the wheel but also in the paddock at work. My target is to be in the final of the every race."

"Joining GCK Academy is a really important moment of my career. I have finally become a race driver of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. It’s a dream come true. I’ll never forget this moment.”

Belgium’s Guillaume de Ridder completes the GCK Academy line-up. Team owner Chicherit believes that de Ridder is a fu­ture World Rallycross star. Throughout 2018 season the GCK owner monitored De Ridder closely with the intention of presenting a Supercar opportunity to the Belgian.

“Joining the GCK Academy is an incredible opportunity for me," said de Ridder. "Being selected as one of the two junior drivers representing the team is an awesome recognition."

"It has been many years now that I have been working so hard and have given everything I had (sometimes even more than that!) in order to reach the highest level in motorsport, so it is finally a dream come true."

TEXT BY - Junaid Samodien

Sunday 3 March 2019

The Abu Dhabi World RX circuit layout is revealed

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media
The circuit layout for the first round of the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship has been revealed. 

The purpose-built 1.2 kilometre rallycross circuit, which has been constructed in the stadium section of the Yas Marina Circuit comprises of 63 per cent asphalt and 37 per cent gravel, a series of wide tarmac areas, tight turns including a hairpin and a daunting jump section.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
Yas Marina Circuit is always innovating when it comes to hosting thrilling motorsport races that attract fans and entertainment seekers to Abu Dhabi and FIA World Rallycross Championship is the latest in our portfolio of world-class events," said Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit.

“Our new track and weekend-long itinerary of some of the wildest racing the Middle East has ever seen promises to deliver something unique to the circuit.”  

World RX drivers Oliver Bennett (Xite Racing) and GRX Taneco trio Niclas Gronholm, Timur Timerzyanov and Reinis Nitiss were on hand to offer media and VIP guests passenger rides.

Briton's Oliver Bennett drove the circuit in his World RX Ford Fiesta Supercar and said: “The track is awesome. It has a lot to offer with big, wide tarmac turns which is going to be great for overtaking. It is going to be a tough track to race but it’s going to be fun to watch."

TEXT: Junaid Samodien

EKS Sport returns to World RX with Krisztian Szabo.

PHOTO CREDIT: EKS Sport/FIA World Rallycross Media.
Two-time European champion Super1600 Krisztian Szabo will compete in the full FIA Rallycross World Championship with EKS Sport in 2019. 

Mattias Ekstrom's team withdrew from the World Rallycross Championship in December, but the former World RX Champion did not fully close the door on his teams future. 

Ekstrom announced his intention to sell the teams Supercars and offered support to the buyer. The end of EKS seemed near when JC Raceteknik announced the acquisition of two EKS Audi Quattro's, but the outfit purchased two 2017 Audi S1 Quattro's. 

The team was formerly known as EKS, now EKS Sport finished second in the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Teams’ World Championship standings and in 2019 the team intends to continue with their Audi S1 EKS RX Quattro Supercar.

After making his European debut at the end of the 2014 season, Krisztian Szabo finished a strong third in the 2015 FIA European Rallycross Championship for Super1600 before sealing the European title twice consecutively in 2016 and 2017.

The Hungarian made an impressive debut for EKS Sport at the Euro RX of France in the Supercar category, racing to second place and subsequently reaching the Final on his second outing with the team in Latvia, in a year old S1 Quattro.

“Since the beginning of my career, I have been dreaming about racing in the World Championship," said Szabo. "Mattias Ekstrom announced last year that he will stop racing in 2019, which means he has more time to focus on managing the EKS Sport team." 

“It is going to be different in 2019 with a much more balanced championship. Everyone has a bigger chance, including me," he said. "I have one of the best teams and cars behind me. I have the right background – a world championship-winning team, the professional support of Mattias and I feel well-prepared."

It is a now or never for me in 2019 and I start my first World Championship season with title hopes,” the Hungarian concludes.

EKS Sport team owner Mattias Ekstrom predicts that Krisztian Szabo has a bright future and can have a successful season with his team 

“I wanted to work together with Krisz this season because his results were quite promising last year and I predict a bright future for him," said Ekstrom. "The World RX field has changed for 2019 and I think Krisz has a big chance to be one of the best and win many races." 

“This is why I suggested that he races in the World Championship instead of the European Championship."

"I will help him as the team leader, I still have vivid memories from last year and I believe it will be useful for the team," said the Swede. "I think that Krisztian will surprise many people because they still don’t know what he can do.”

Testing for the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship will begin shortly. 

TEXT: Junaid Samodien

Monday 11 February 2019

Grönholm RX announce a three-driver programme for the 2019 World RX season.

The 2019 GRX Taneco driver line-up: Niclas Gronholm (left), Timur Timerzyanov and Reinis Nitiss.
The Finnish-based GRX Taneco have today announced their driver line-up and programme for the 2019 World Rallycross Championship. 

The team has retained their two permanent drivers – Niclas Grönholm and Timur Timerzyanov, who will drive the 2019 Hyundai i20 Supercars – while development driver Reinis Nitišs will be taking part in several World RX outings. 

GRX Taneco successfully debuted their Hyundai i20 Supercars in 2018 claiming fourth in the World RX standings.

“We knew that our first season with a new car would be tough, but we exceeded our expectations in 2018 and throughout the winter break we have been working hard to improve our i20 Supercars and take the next step in 2019,” said Marcus Grönholm, Team Principal - GRX Taneco.

The team recently tested their 2019 Supercar in Southern France, and after trying out the first updates the drivers and management are confident for the season ahead.

“This will be the first time I will drive the same car for a second consecutive season and I will start it with a good knowledge of the i20 Supercar," said Niclas Grönholm. "The base performance was already there and we have worked on tweaks around the car to shave off crucial tenths of a second."

Timur Timerzyanov returns with GRX Taneco in 2019 after finishing 10th overall in the driver's standings. 

“Rallycross is my passion and I believe in it, so naturally I am pretty thrilled to start my sixth season of World RX and to do a second year together with GRX Taneco," said Timerzyanov. "This season will offer more opportunities for privateer teams, meaning that we also have a bigger chance to show our supporters good results and great action for the fans." 

The Russian is raring to go racing and feels that the 2019 season is going to be exciting. "It’s just 10 rounds, so there will be no sandbagging and everyone will be trying to claim the podium positions,” he concludes.

The GRX Taneco team have added a third car for several rounds this season. GRX Taneco Team Manager Jussi Pinomäki explains: "For further improvements we have also added a third car for several rounds with Reinis as our development driver, to help us gain data and continue the car’s evolution.” 

“I’m happy to be back in World RX, even though it’s not a full-season programme," said Reinis Nitišs. "Together with Jussi Pinomäki I have claimed two Euro RX titles and I know the people working in the team - everyone is professional, dedicated and passionate."

Nitišs explains his role with GRX Taneco: "Part of my season will be spent working together with the engineers and team behind the scenes, or testing car updates."

"But be assured, when I’m racing you can expect no giveaways,” he concludes.

The ten round 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship gets underway on 5 April in Abu Dhabi. 

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Spa-Franchorchamps reveals World RX circuit layout.

PHOTO CREDIT: Unknown Source.
Spa-Francorchamps has today revealed the layout of its purpose-built FIA World Rallycross track that will host the third round of the World RX championship on 11 and 12 May.

The layout features a challenging, 913-metre track, which incorporates one of the most iconic corners in world motorsport – Eau Rouge.

Drivers will ascend Raidillion and its 15% gradient followed by a hairpin bend, before hurtling down Eau Rouge.

The stadium section of the layout features a banked corner and two "jumps", with an aim to allow the driver's take on various racing lines.

The Joker Lap is located in the last corner of the circuit layout, which will create some thrilling racing and merges. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Spa World Rallycross of Benelux.
PHOTO CREDIT: Spa World Rallycross of Benelux.