Thursday, 12 March 2020

FIA Drivers' Press Conference - 2020 Australian GP.

DRIVERS – Nicholas LATIFI (Williams), Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari), Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Daniel RICCIARDO (Renault)

Q: Now, it’s been a complicated build-up to this first race of the season, so I’d like to start just by asking you about your preparations. Daniel, what have you been up to and why is it so difficult for an Australian at home. It seems that this race track, there’s not much love between Australian drivers and Albert Park?

Daniel RICCIARDO: I guess there haven’t been many Australians, so like the statistics… It’s a game of percentages, right? But anyway, I hope this one is good. I feel like one year’s good, one year’s not, but I think I’m due a good one. I’ve been preparing, been preparing well. I don’t know how to sit; everyone’s trying to sit away from each other. We’ll get cosy. What have I been doing? I don’t know, just the usual. Since testing: back in Europe, bit of simulator stuff, and then I was home for a few days. It’s good to be here.

Q: How about the motor – the new car? What did you learn about it in testing? Do you feel you can make a step forward from last year?

DR: Yes, I do. I think the test ended well for us. Day three of week two was a lot more promising and both my feedback and Esteban’s, you could see our expression when we got out of the car, it was certainly a lot more optimistic, so that was encouraging. I just look back at last year, the whole build-up and everything. I was watching some onboards before and I don’t know, I can just see me from the outside and I’m like, “yeah, I’m a lot more comfortable in this car now”, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do.

Q: It’s your 10th season in Formula 1?
DR: Yeah, someone reminded me…

Lewis HAMILTON: Jeez!
DR: I know, kinda old, huh!

Q: It’s your 14th, Lewis.
DR: I’m still a baby. Thanks guys.

Q: Let’s move on to the baby, Nicholas Latifi, your first grand prix this weekend. Just describe how you feel? An emotional moment, I guess?

Nicholas LATIFI: Yeah, definitely very exciting. When I was first announced as the race driver last year this weekend seemed so far away. But day by day, going through all the winter preparations and everything, just kind of closing in on this weekend. Yeah, a lot of anticipation from myself and from the team as well, but yeah, really just happy and grateful to be here and just can’t wait to get the weekend underway.

Q: And more nerves than last year when you were in Formula 2?

NL: Right now, no, I would say there are not really any nerves at the moment. I’ve kind of said that from already starting winter testing as the official race driver, for me it just felt like a continuation of the work I was doing with the team last year. I was already really comfortable in the team environment. To be honest, all the stuff that made it feel a bit more like I was the race driver was all the external – all the media, the fan interactions, it’s just at so much more of a higher level. Right now everything is still calm. Maybe once I’m waiting on the grid and the lights are about to go out, that’s probably when I’m going to notice…

Q: You make a reference to the work you were doing with Williams last year, you did six FP1 sessions, so you knew about last year’s car, you drove it. How much of a step forward is this year’s car?
NL: It’s definitely a step forward. It’s difficult to quantify how much, because it’s always the same in winter testing, you never really know what people are doing with engine modes and fuel levels, but just from my first feeling in the car it was definitely much nicer to drive, giving the driver much more confidence to push and attack the corners, which is what you want. We’re going to see come Saturday where we are in the pecking order. We’re optimistic it definitely is a step forward but we’re just going to have to wait and see just how much.

Q: Well, good luck with that. Sebastian, talking about differences from last year to this year. From the outside winter testing back in Europe looked a little bit inconclusive for Ferrari. What can you tell us about it?

Sebastian VETTEL: I think testing is always inconclusive. You never know where you are and that’s the good thing about coming here and [we can] finally get going and racing. I think testing has, not a lot, but it does have its nice sides, aspects, but really racing is what it’s about, so as I said, it’s nice to come here and finally know where you are.

Q: But like Nicholas and Daniel, can you say that this year’s car is a clear step forward?
SV: It is but I think that’s probably true for everyone. That’s the idea of having a new car, obviously learning from the experiences of the year before, so I think it’s true to say that everybody had got a better car this year, but it always depends on where you are relative to the others. So I think our car is doing what we expected. It is a step forward, it feels better, but ultimately it matters where you are next to all the others.

Q: Well, you’ve always gone well here at Albert Park, you’re going for victory number four this weekend. What is it about your relationship with this track? Why do you go so well here?
SV: I don’t know. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like the track. I think it’s a fun track and generally it feels like the right place to kick it off, great atmosphere. Maybe my biggest advantage is that I’m not Australian. And Lewis as well. I think Lewis has done really well here as well. No, because you opened up by saying that Australians haven’t done really well here!

DR: The irony is my best year was the year you had an Australian, but then that got taken away.

Q: 2014, the year you finished second for a bit.
DR: Yeah. Anyway, I’m still bitter.
SV: I don’t know; I was trying to joke. I know, I’m German, so it’s probably not what you expect. I think everybody just loves the track and that’s myself included. I think it has a nice flow to it, a nice rhythm. It’s good that they didn’t resurface much of the track, keeping some of the bumps, some of the nature of the track. I think it’s quite fast, considering it’s a semi-street circuit. Yeah, I like it.

Q: Thank you. Lewis, coming to you, before we talk about track stuff, I just wanted to ask you about your detour on the way here to New South Wales. Tell us what you were doing up there and what you found?

LH: Yeah, I got here on Monday morning and went straight from the airport in Sydney out to the Blue Mountains and got to see... Through the winter I was watching the news and seeing the devastation out here and how it was affecting people but more so than anything how many animals that perished. That, for me, was too big a number to even comprehend. I wanted to get out here before that but it just wasn’t possible and I was like ‘when I first get here I want to go and see it first-hand for myself’. So, I landed, took a two-hour drive up to the Blue Mountains and slowly started to see a lot of the burnt trees, the forest, as far as the eye can see. A really beautiful place. There was already regrowth, but I went to visit an organisation, Wires, that was helping during the whole period, whilst the animals were suffering, while the fires were going on, and they are helping rehabilitate some of the animals. It’s all just people living in local homes around the area who volunteer and so it was really quite amazing, they are the heroes. It felt amazing to see it for myself and see all the hard work that has been done and it meant a lot to them, the people that I met, that we took the time to go out.

Q: Daniel, were you here in the height of summer when the bush fires were at their worst?
DR: I was. I was home, but home for me is Perth, so west coast. We weren’t affected, nothing to the extent of the east. For me to be at home but to see the engagement from the whole world, from all over, that was really nice. It was affecting our country, my country, and to see the generosity from everyone, from all parts of the globe, that was a really good touch.

Q: And Lewis, just on the on-track stuff, you completed more laps than anybody else in winter testing, how confident are you coming into this race?
LH: I don’t really ever use the word confidence. I think we just worked as hard as we could. The runs went well or the days went well in Barcelona. We did leave with reliability issues, which I know the guys have been trying to move mountains over the past couple of weeks so we arrive in the best shape possible. So I truly believe in all the hard work we’ve done. We’re hoping we start off on the right foot. I think we arrive here with two less days of testing compared to last year. I think we’ve got quite a good grip on the car and we arrive as best prepared as we can be. As Seb was saying, it’s going to be interesting to see where we all stand, but that’s the exciting part of coming to your first grand prix.


Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to Lewis: with the winter testing, is there some driver and some car you may see as your main rival for your title?
LH: Force India, maybe?

DR, NL: Racing Point.

LH: I don’t call it Racing Point, because I don’t like the name! I prefer Force India. No, I think it’s the same – Ferrari and Red Bull. I think Red Bull have been particularly strong so I don’t really know where they stand between them, but Red Bull were realty strong particularly at the end of last year. Obviously Ferrari have taken a little bit of a step, it seems they may have… they have definitely taken a bit of a step back power-wise, but maybe the car is better, so we’ll see tomorrow when we get in the car over the next couple of days how that plays into effect.

Q: Sebastian, do you feel like you have taken a step back power-wise?
SV: Well, we’ll see. I don’t know if others… I think we’ve focused on all areas and also on the engine in the winter and as I said we will find out this weekend, probably in qualifying conditions when everybody is trying to get to their maximum, and we finally see where we are, not just on power but also on the car.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Lewis, regarding the Coronavirus situation, are you comfortable having travelled all the way to Australia and are you satisfied with what Formula One and the FIA have done so far regarding that situation?
LH: I felt OK travelling out here. Naturally, being on a flight with God knows how many people and then stopping in an airport full of so many people, I didn’t really think too hard on it. I was just trying to make sure I was taking all the precautions I could in terms of not touching things and always using hand sanitizer. I am really very, very surprised that we’re here. I think motorsport is… I think it’s great that we have races but for me it’s shocking that we’re all sitting in this room. So many fans are already here today and it seems like the rest of the world is reacting probably a little bit late but already this morning you’re seeing, with Trump shutting down the borders from Europe to the States, you’re seeing the NBA’s been suspended, yet Formula 1 continues to go on. I don’t know: I saw Jackie Stewart this morning, you know, looking fit and healthy and well in the lift. Some people, as I walked into the paddock, some elderly individuals. It’s a concern, I think, for the people here. It’s quite a big circus that’s come here. So it’s definitely concerning for me. So, no, is your answer.

Sebastian, anything you’d like to add?
SV: Not really. I think it’s very difficult to have a fair judgement. Of course, you realise that a lot of sport, competitions, big events get postponed and cancelled and, like Lewis said, it’s fair to ask the question: why are you here? Obviously we have to trust the FIA and FOM to take precautions as much as they can, but I think the answer that nobody can give you at the moment is how much you can control what is going on. As a matter of fact, we are here. You just try to take care as much as you can.

Daniel, while we’re on the topic, anything you’d like to say?
DR: …

NL: Nothing really more to add. I think the guys summed it up quite well, just taking all necessary precautions and following the advice of the professionals.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, just as a follow-up to that. We’ve seen several team members have gone into isolation because they’re been tested for the Coronavirus. If any of those results come back positive do you think that the race should be postponed or called off on Sunday?

LH: It’s not for me to make that decision – but I heard that result’s not going to come back for five day or something. Coincidentally. So… yeah. Unlikely.

Q: (Matt Dixon - The Times) Lewis, you’ve been outspoken where others have maybe not dared to be about Corona. What do you think is the reason this race is still going on? Obviously there are… well, is it business interests? Why are we still here?

LH: Cash is king. Honestly I don’t know. I can’t really add much more too it. I don’t feel like I should shy away from the fact of my opinion. The fact is we are here and I just urge everyone to be as careful as you can be. Touching doors and surfaces, and I hope everyone’s got hand sanitisers. And, really for the fans, I really hope they’re taking precautions. I was walking through and seeing just everything going ahead as normal, like it’s a normal day – but it’s… I really don’t think it is. I just hope all the fans stay safe. I really hope we go through this weekend and we don’t see any fatalities, or things that come along in the future.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, thank you for having the balls to say your piece there and speak out. Everyone else seems to be hiding behind ‘we trust the FIA’, which seems pretty mad. I want to know – this is all four drivers – how you would respond if the FIA, F1 decided to take the decision to suspend the first couple of races of the season, maybe start in Europe. How would you take that? Would that be welcome? Sensible? What’s your opinions?

Let’s start with Daniel.
DR: You really want me to talk? Honestly, from my side, I have to put my trust in the FIA and also, I think, we may all have opinions but at the end of the day I’m here to compete and race cars. I’m not really much more than that in this situation. There’s people who are spending more time investing in it than I am and I’m kind of just following guidelines. I came here knowing we were going to compete so, to be honest… I don’t want to say selfishly… but I’ve just got my head down, focused on the race and I’ve been training and preparing and obviously getting a bunch of emails with guidelines and this and that but I honestly haven’t spent too much time digging into details. There are certainly people around me doing that, so yeah, it’s a tough one. I know it’s real but, as maybe Seb touched on, I don’t know who knows really, at least in this room, we don’t really know the extent of it or how quickly it can spread, or what level it’s at. It’s kind of left to the others for now. It’s mixed. The racer in me is happy that I’m here, for sure.

Sebastian, if the first couple of races were suspended, postponed… what would your reaction be?
SV: Well, one way or the other, I think you expect and you hope that we take the right decision, or the sensible decision. So, if that’s the case then there’s probably reason for it. If it’s not the case then you rely on the fact that maybe there’s not enough reason for it. As I said, I don’t think I’m the one to judge, and I think, to be completely straight, we are probably in a lucky situation, as in, obviously we are exposed to people, and so on, but I think we can largely control our own situation. Obviously in the car we don’t even have a passenger. What I mean is, you try to control the situation for yourself first, as much as you can. That’s selfish but I think everybody in this regard is selfish. You see some people being more relaxed about handshakes, others less. Now some laugh it off, some take it very serious. I think, as I said before, my stand on it is that it’s very difficult at the moment to really categorise and say that it is great, I don’t know, serious, or not serious – but that’s why you have to ultimately put yourself into other people’s hands and trust them. I think we all did getting down here. The flights weren’t cancelled, we were all allowed to travel, so we trusted whoever we flew with. We are sitting in this room. Within that, I think that you are within your own bubble and you try to control it as much as you can. I think that’s valid for us sitting here on the couch, that’s valid for people sitting opposite us and it’s valid for people outside and around the globe. I think it’s probably right to take care and take precaution. How much is necessary, and who’s responsible and whatever other questions, I think there are a lot of questions at the moment that are very difficult to answer.

NL: Obviously for me, it being my first race in Formula One, it definitely is a bit of a strange feeling to have it all starting like this but, again, me, nor any of us are qualified to really make that decision on if the race goes ahead or not. I mean, if the coming races, including this one, don’t end up going ahead, then just have a bit of a holiday I guess. There’s not really much more influence that I’m going to have on the decision. And, again, just following the advice of the professionals really.

And the debut would have to wait…
NL: yeah.

Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) To all drivers. We now understand that at least four team members have been tested for the Coronavirus and up to eight. Now, if one of these comes back with a positive result, given how close-knit, and how closely everyone works together in the paddock, is it not of concern to you that it will probably suggest that the Coronavirus has taken hold in the paddock already?

SV: I don’t know. How can you answer that? You can’t. You don’t know. Maybe yes – and I think as far as, and I’m not an expert, but as far as I understand, some people will have it and you don’t see anything. They show no symptoms. You might have it.  Sorry, but who knows. Maybe to some degree you never know and to another degree you will. So, I think the precaution obviously, as far as I understood, that these people got checked. I don’t know how long it takes, if it takes five days or shorter, I have no idea. I think you will probably have to cross that bridge when it comes to it. Then, there’s always an argument that we should have seen this before, we shouldn’t… I think we are all here happy in a way to race because we all love racing. We want to race – but you can’t ignore the fact that something is going on and you have to be aware of the situation – but answering these questions, I think nobody can.

Q: (Craig Slater – Sky Sports) Sebastian, the FIA have had this inquiry into your power unit. They haven’t found the team guilty of any specific wrong-doing. Are you disappointed then that they didn’t clear the team, could this have been handled better in terms of what’s been said in public? And to Lewis: it’s been a friendly rivalry between Mercedes and Ferrari; are the gloves off now?

SV: I took the gloves out once to Lewis and it wasn’t the right thing to do so I said it afterwards. Remember Baku!
DR: Well done Baku.
SV: Everyone remembers that race so… who won the race? Anyways, what was the question, sorry?

Q: (Craig Slater – Sky Sports) That the team wasn’t cleared, Sebastian, given that they couldn’t find a specific illegality with the engine.
SV: Um, well, I don’t know. As far as I understand it was cleared so I think… For me it’s very simple. Obviously I trust my team to do the right things, within the regulations, at all time. I think we all trust, all drivers, the governing body as in the FIA, to do their job for all teams on the grid. I think that’s probably the answer, so there’s not much else to add. If you have further detailed questions and so on, then I’m not the one to answer because I think the cars are quite complex now so probably I’m not the best person to give you enough insight. I think the other one, that I would like to add, which I think from your second question, I can smell might be a hint, is that for me it doesn’t change anything in terms of the relationship that I have with other drivers and in this particular (instance) with Lewis. I think the respect that we share we’ve grown over the years is untouched and I don’t think is at threat.

LH: What was the question?

Q: Are the gloves off?
LH: Well, no.  Firstly I think I repeat what Seb has just said. Between us our respect has continued to grow over the years and that doesn’t change. I think that what goes on in the background between teams and the governing body, I think is a separate issue. I think it could have been handled better, for sure but again, that’s really something that should be directed to Toto. I think for us athletes, us drivers, we just want to arrive at the races. Naturally all the teams are different in their performance but you want to feel that you’re playing on fair grounds. That’s the approach that we have and I think… I don’t really know. I won’t add too much more to it because it will just cause more trouble.

Q: (Roger Barne – Beyond the Racing Line) There’s a bit of talk about having some changes to the track in the next couple of years here in Melbourne. What’s the drivers take on what would you like to see at Albert Park track changed in the next couple of years? Nothing, Seb?
SV: I haven’t heard anything.

Q: (Roger Barne – Beyond the Racing Line) Possibly resurfacing, widening the track, possibly going on at 12 to lengthen that end to add another straight?
DR: I’m aware of some of it so I guess I can talk on it a bit. As a driver, I think as Seb touched on earlier, we do enjoy this track. I don’t know any driver that doesn’t. It’s fast and flowing. In a way, it’s a bit like Monaco, like it’s a pleasure to drive by yourself but for overtaking come Sunday it’s not always the best track on the calendar. I think the overtaking average is certainly one of the lowest. We were asked our opinion -  I guess a few of us – if we thought the track could do with some changes and yeah, we were told there were some areas on the track they could widen or try and change the angle of the corner, to try and open it up and create maybe bigger braking zones or basically more chances for overtaking. I think this is what is trying to be achieved. So I’m definitely for that because we’ve also driven this layout for a while so with a few corners changed then if it did make the show on Sunday better I think we would all be OK with that.

LH: Yeah, no, I agree with what Daniel said. I think it’s firstly, this is a fantastic place to come to every year, I think the best opening race in a country that probably Formula One’s ever had. It’s such an exciting place to come to and the track is fantastic but probably a bit like Monaco, a little bit more so on a single lap for us in qualifying, but in the race I think it’s the third or fourth most difficult track to overtake on so if they were to make some modifications, make it longer, particularly right now when we’re getting faster and faster, you’re probably going to see less overtaking I would imagine, potentially this year also being that we have more downforce, more drag which affects the car further behind even more so. So yeah, I’m definitely for them adding some really cool modifications. I just hope that we do stay, keep the race here. I don’t really know what they would have to do to the actual current layout; just extending that’s going to make a big difference. I don’t know the answer to that but I’m all for it.

SV: I haven’t seen any suggestions. In a way it would be sad to change. I get the point but I don’t know, obviously next year it’s supposed to change a lot in terms of racing, so maybe it’s wise to wait for that before you rebuild the whole track, might also be the cheaper option, let us spend the money on the cars before you spend the money on the track. I think it’s probably best to wait and see what happens next year and then we’ll see. If they make the track even nicer then go ahead but usually with those things they end up doing it not so nice.

Q: Nicholas, how was your track walk yesterday?
NL: Yeah, I was going to say, I can’t really comment so much on that because I haven’t driven it. We have been around the track four times already; I did come out quite early. It looks like a great track to drive; I’ve heard many great things about it. I ran twice. I came on Saturday; I was here quite early. Yeah, walked it twice. I’m just going to have to wait and see.

Q: (Inga Strake - Pole Position Reports) Lewis, your team press release said that at the beginning of the season you feel really fit, probably fitter or more ready than before. How much is that is down toward what you’ve been posting over the winter, your vegan nutrition and what did the change in nutrition mean for you? And is it more about food and eating, what you take in or also about sustainability and environment?

LH: I think my health has just got better and better over the last couple of years as I’ve gone to the plant-based diet. It is not the easiest thing to straight away go to and you’re constantly learning about the foods and discovering more foods… things that you probably would never… no, things that I would have never really eaten before, to give you some variability. I focused on having consistent good solid meals; I had a chef during the winter so that was really why it was particularly a better period of time for me but I do feel a large part of the reason I have gone that way is because of the environment and for the animals. It’s a little bit difficult, sitting up here, because I know not all of us do… you know, vegan, not everyone continues but not for me, I’ve definitely felt the benefits from that on the health side of things and physically, it’s just enabled me to… you know people do think you’re going to lose muscle if you don’t have your protein, that’s… a lot of the time people say I need my protein but it’s absolute rubbish. You just need to do some reading on line. I’ve managed to… last year I bulked up, I put a lot more weight on. This winter I trimmed down, like cut but have more muscle and I’m able to lift more weight than I’ve ever done before and I haven’t been able to run further than I’ve ever been able to run before. That’s just enabled me to train better. But you’ve seen it in other sports, other sportsmen and women around the world are trying these things. Serena (Williams) has been working on it, Djokovic, you’ve got a bunch of people out there that are doing it. I think it’s a positive and important way to go for us all. I think there are lots of areas that need to… not just in food but there’s a lot of things that we all need to do better moving forward but one step at a time.

Q: Have you ever tried a 40-hour fast, Lewis?
LH: Why would you do that?
DR: Why do you ask? He asked me in Abu Dhabi. What was my answer? I was bored, wasn’t I?

Q: You said you’d done a 40-hour fast.
DR: Yeah, so a bit of experimenting so I guess on the diet stuff so, lot of vegan stuff now you hear and fasting comes in. I guess I’ve stayed open-minded through it all so yeah, I tried a little bit of fasting over the last few years but yeah, I’m not going to go on a spiel and say I did it because of this reason, that reason. I just… a few people did it and said it was quite good so I thought I’d try it. Did you do it?

Q: (Jon McEvoy – Daily Mail) Just to go back, obviously a serious subject, the coronavirus, would there be any circumstances if there were more incidence of people getting ill or, God forbid, someone involved in the sport, died, at which you guys would say we’d rather not race? You say we’re already here which we obviously are but there will be 100,000 in on Sunday and the day before and that could be alleviated if there were no race. Would any of you consider lobbying to go down that route?

SV: My stand, and I think I probably… I hope others would agree, we hope it doesn’t get that far. If it were to get that far then for sure you pull the handbrake and I think we are a group of 20 guys and I think we’ve got together over the last years for various circumstances on various topics and I think we share common opinion on big decisions and that, I would qualify, is a very, very big decision and ultimately, as I said before, you look at yourself and we would, I think, be mature enough to look after ourselves and pull the handbrake in that case.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

World RX confirms 13-strong permanent field for 2020 season.

The permanent entry list for the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship has been revealed today. 

The 13-strong permanent driver line-up offers up the tantalizing prospect of a title contest every bit as intense as the season-long skirmish which highlighted the 2019 edition.

Among the roster of permanent competitors, who will be joined by a number of round-by-round entries at each event, there are drivers representing eight nations, supported by world-class teams and six manufacturers keen to win the battle of the brands.

In 2019, after 196 races, including an incident-filled finale, the leading protagonists for the drivers’ title – Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud – were tied on 211 points. The trophy went to the elder Hansen – based on a countback of event victories.

So, if you thought it would be hard to surpass a season-long rivalry that went to the wire in South Africa, along comes the double World RX champion intent of adding a third title to his name. Yes, Johan Kristoffersson is back!

The record-breaking Kristoffersson claimed back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018. And, in 2019 the champion returns at the wheel of a VW Polo GTI RX for Kristoffersson Motorsport under the team banner "Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS".

As for the Hansens, Timmy, the reigning champion, is joined by younger brother Kevin, in a pair of Team Hansen Peugeot 208s in which they will also defend their teams’ championship.

Norwegian Bakkerud and Liam Doran are back with the Monster RX Cartel banner, but this time the team is being run by the French outfit GC Kompetition. This season they have swapped their EKS prepared Audi S1s for Renault Megane R.S. RXs.

While GC Kompetition's team owner Guerlain Chicherit teams up with Rokas Baciuska in a pair of Renault Clios in the GC Unkorrupted squad. Sweden’s Anton Marklund returns with GCK Bilstein and will drive an updated Renault Megane R.S. RX.

Hyundai is represented by GRX Taneco with fast Finn Niclas Gronholm and Russia’s Timur Timerzyanov behind the wheel of the i20 Supercars. Gronholm, who recorded two wins in 2019 but missed two rounds due to illness, is expected to challenge strongly for top honours as is Timerzyanov, who posted a notable maiden World RX victory at Spa-Francorchamps.

Timo Scheider returns alongside team boss Rene Muennich at the ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport outfit which will field updated and improved Seat Ibizas.

Sweden’s Robin Larsson, the 2019 FIA European Champion, steps up to World RX full time and will race an updated ex-Ekstrom Audi S1 Quattro with the JC Raceteknik team.

Apart from the permanent drivers, a number of round-by-round entries will be announced over the coming weeks.

"The 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship permanent entry list underlines the lure of World RX for both teams and drivers," said Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of Motorsports Events at IMG.

"We thought it would be tough to eclipse the drama and excitement of our 2019 season but if you look at the class of 2020, we have all the ingredients for a rivalry every bit as intense."

"Our 2020 line-up is bursting with world-class talent – including two world champions, European champions, and multiple race winners."

According to Bellamy, the 2020 season is a pivotal year as the sport of rallycross takes it first steps on the road to electrification.

"Together with the FIA we are committed to an electric future for rallycross," he said. “This year we will embark on our journey to a phased introduction of an electric world championship in 2021 by introducing the electric series Projekt E as part of that process." 

"There is a huge groundswell of support for electric rallycross from teams and industry stakeholders. There is an inexorable surge towards electrification in the automotive industry and we are excited to be part of it."

Bakkerud, Doran return in all-new Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel.

Andreas Bakkerud and Liam Doran return in 2020 with all-new Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel.

After missing out on the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship title on countback (equal points with Timmy Hansen), Bakkerud is even more motivated and determined than ever to reach the very top in 2020.

The Norweigan believes that GCK and the updated Mégane R.S. RX can provide him with the best chance of bringing home both FIA World Rallycross Championship titles in 2020.

"First off, I’m proud to sign my eighth season in a row in a supercar – it’s pretty insane! I’m very pleased that I’ll be driving with GCK in 2020, continuing the Monster Energy RX Cartel story too," he said. "GCK has been a breath of fresh air in World RX since joining the sport, and I know the potential this car and this team have."

"I tested the GCK Mégane R.S. RX after Cape Town RX 2018 and have been in contact with GCK ever since, so it’s great to finally be able to work together. Plus, last time I drove a Renault I became European Champion, so why not bring the title home again this time?"

Bakkerud is under no illusions that the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship will be easy, after coming within a whisker of claiming the title in 2019.

"I take my task very seriously – I know I’m here to win races and hopefully do well in the standings, but I respect the fact this championship keeps getting stronger and it won’t be easy," the Norwegian said. "But it will be fun!"

As in 2019, Liam Doran lines up alongside Andreas this year in the Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel. The Briton is excited to be back and is looking for better luck and more celebrations in 2020.

"The RX Cartel is back!" Doran said. "I’m stoked to be racing again this year. Last year had some real ups and downs for me and Andreas – I really wanted to get a win but it just didn’t happen. This year there are no excuses!”

Doran is returning to GCK for his second spell after competing in four races at the end of 2018. The ‘British Bomb’ is confident a return to the Mégane R.S. RX will bring better fortunes this season.

"Teaming up with GCK will be great. I drove the Mégane R.S. RX in 2018 and we really got on, so I’m definitely looking forward to getting back behind the wheel," he said. "Last year I struggled to get to grips with the car (the Audi S1), so to get back in something I know will be great – and with all the developments made on the car since I last drove it, I have high expectations."

"We ended last year on what seemed like a bit of a low with Andreas missing out on the title, but all in all 2019 was a massive success for us and I’m sure we can carry that momentum into 2020 with GCK."

Confirmed 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship entries thus far: 

Guerlain Chicherit – GCK Unkorrupted – Renault Clio R.S RX
Rokas Baciuska – GCK Unkorrupted – Renault Clio R.S RX 

Timo Scheider – Munnich Motorsport – Seat Ibiza
Rene Munnich – Munnich Motorsport – Seat Ibiza

Niclas Gronholm – GRX Taneco – Hyundai i20
Timur Timerzyanov – GRX Taneco – Hyundai i20

Anton Marklund - GCK Bilstein - Renault Megane R.S RX

Robin Larsson - JC Raceteknik - Audi S1 

Timmy Hansen - Team Hansen - Peugeot 208 WRX 
Kevin Hansen - Team Hansen - Peugeot 208 WRX

Johan Kristoffersson - Volkswagen Dealer Team BAUHAUS - Volkswagen Polo GTi RX

Andreas Bakkerud - Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel - Renault Megane R.S. RX
Liam Doran - Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel - Renault Megane R.S. RX

Two-time champion Johan Kristoffersson makes World RX return after one-year hiatus

PHOTO CREDIT: Kristoffersson Motorsport. 
Two-time World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristofferson has confirmed his return to the series with Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS in 2020. 

The Swede claimed seven victories on route to his maiden World RX drivers' title in 2017 and surpassed that feat in 2018 winning 11 of 12 rounds in the defense of his first World RX crown. However, a few months later he was left without a seat when PSRX Volkswagen withdrew from the championship.

After a stint in rallying and a season in the World Touring Car Cup where he claimed three race wins. Kristoffersson will return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the wheel of a works-built Volkswagen Polo Supercar under the team banner "Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS". 

"It has been a hectic period and not the easiest path to go along. There have been many alternatives, but right now I feel really satisfied. Rallycross is very close to my heart. All our energy and focus is now on World RX," Kristoffersson said.

The 31-year-old says that while his attention was elsewhere after a one-year hiatus, he has learnt from racing elsewhere and is refocussed for the season ahead. 

"I have caught up with some of the races I missed and my conclusion is that our opponents took steps forward during 2019," he adds. "I have also taken my steps as a driver through what I have learned in rally and track racing and that is the mix that becomes rallycross."

Kristoffersson Motorsport has a long successful history in motorsport, and in 2013 they returned to rallycross with a single event in Sweden. The team expanded its operation in 2014 when it entered two Volkswagen Polos in the Supercar class but later stopped running a team in World RX class after Johan joined the Volkswagen backed PSRX team in 2017. 

"I’m really looking forward to this season and it is a bit special to do it with Kristoffersson Motorsport. When we entered rallycross in 2014 we set a three-year plan to become world champions," Kristoffersson said. "It succeeded, however with PSRX where I had two fantastic years. But some of our own staff were on the substitute bench so to speak. That’s why it’s so extremely nice to do this."

KMS team boss Tommy Kristoffersson says the team is well aware of the challenge it faces in 2020 entering as a family team.

"We hope to score good results early on, giving us a chance for extra support for the latter part of the season. Of course, this puts pressure on our team, but I feel assured we have a very competent squad," he said.

"Tight races, powerful cars, big crowds. Rallycross is surrounded by emotions and the organizers have found a great concept for the events. And with a double world champion behind the wheel the pressure is on."

"We will be there aiming to win, but anyone involved in this business knows it’s not that easy," he adds. "After all, we’re a private team and the resources are limited, not even close to 2017 and 2018. Also, the car will be based in Arvika, not in Hannover, even though we will be buying services from Volkswagen Motorsport."

Kristoffersson senior says the team also has an eye on the electric future of rallycross.

"It has always been a benefit to work with Volkswagen and together with their development department I hope that we will be able to join and lay the foundation for the future of motorsport," he said. 

"Rallycross is a perfect product for electrification and there is no more efficient way to conduct development work. Much of what emerges through motorsports is used in the extension of our standard cars."

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Larsson returns to World RX with JC Raceteknik.

Robin Larsson, the 2019 FIA European Rallycross, and Nordic Supercars champion will return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2020 with JC Racetecknik. 

The 27-year-old Swede was left without a seat at the end of the 2018 season after Olsbergs MSE took a step back from the World RX championship for the 2019 season. He soon found a home at JC Racetecknik and went on to took four victories in the Euro RX championship on his way to a second title, as a reward for wrapping up the title early, Larsson was entered into the Latvian round of the World RX championship where he showed his strong pace. 

This season he will race the Audi S1 Supercar that former World RX champion Mattias Ekstrom drove in 2018, updated to the latest specification by the EKS team. 

"It’s so exciting to be entering the World Championship with a strong team and a good car. Last year, both me and Joel had our best seasons ever, so continuing this together with the team will be extra special," Larsson said. "Of course, there will be tough events with many fast drivers, but that’s what rallycross is all about."

Larsson has high hopes for the 2020 season. "We had good speed last year with good times against the World Championship drivers. Now that we are racing together on track I will be able to increase the pace even more."

"We’ll see during the first events how we stack up against the other teams. It would be nice to have good results straight away and to be able to continue that form. There are going to be many lovely battles I think."

The Swede says that his World RX entry was only possible thanks to backing from Br Öhman, Blåkläder and several of both the team's and Larsson's collaborative partners.

"Joel, dad [Lars Larsson] and Simpa [Simon Eriksson] have helped a lot with getting the budget together for this year, the World Championship has always been the target," he said. "When Mats Öhman and Br Öhman came in and supported us like they have, it was an amazing feeling, it’s very good of them. And it’s also thanks to all of our partners, because without them this wouldn’t be possible."

Confirmed 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship entries thus far: 

Guerlain Chicherit – GCK Unkorrupted – Renault Clio R.S RX
Rokas Baciuska – GCK Unkorrupted – Renault Clio R.S RX 

Timo Scheider – Munnich Motorsport – Seat Ibiza
Rene Munnich – Munnich Motorsport – Seat Ibiza

Niclas Gronholm – GRX Taneco – Hyundai i20
Timur Timerzyanov – GRX Taneco – Hyundai i20

Anton Marklund - GCK Bilstein - Renault Megane R.S RX

Robin Larsson - JC Raceteknik - Audi S1 

Monday, 9 March 2020

Marklund aims to start World RX campaign with a bang at GCK Bilstein.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition
Anton Marklund returns to World RX in 2020 at the helm of "GCK Bilstein" with the sole focus of challenging for the drivers' world title. 

Starting with GCK in 2018, Marklund showed his commitment to the team in the development of the Mégane R.S. RX. Following additional work over the winter break, including development on the engine and a new evolution of the Bilstein dampers, the Swede is perfectly poised to battle at the top of the field in 2020.

In France, Anton claimed a second-place finish GCK's best ever result in the championship.

"I just can’t wait to get started. Together with Bilstein we made great progress last year and showed really good speed, and with the extra time and better preparations over this winter we are ready to start 2020 with a bang," he said.

"Being able to build on the real developments with the Mégane R.S. RX. from last year, and the existing relationships I have with the team and technical partners, allows us to start the season strongly."

"I want to say thanks to Bilstein for all the support they’ve given me and the team so far and for committing to us, even more, this year – together we push to be the best and it’s the kind of partnership we need to be successful."

GRX Taneco field unchanged line-up for 2020 campaign.

GRX Taneco's driver line-up will remain unchanged in 2020, with the Finnish outfit retaining Niclas Grönholm and Timur Timerzyanov for a third consecutive season.

The Finland-based team expanded to a two-car team in 2018 after acquiring a pair of former Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC cars rebuilt to rallycross specifications. 

In 2018 the team came fourth in the World RX Teams’ standings, while in 2019 it climbed up to second, with Niclas Grönholm claiming a fourth place in the Drivers' Standings having claimed two-event wins and two other podium finishes. The Finn was regular in the finals and could have won the drivers' championship had he, not missed two events due to appendicitis surgery. 

While Grönholm's teammate Timur Timerzyanov finished fifth overall in the drivers' standings, a noteworthy achievement was the Russians maiden claimed World RX win in Belgium. 

"After two years of running, I can say that I am happy with our progressing performance, and I hope we can do even better in 2020," Marcus Grönholm, GRX Taneco Team Principal said.

"We have retained the driver line-up of Niclas and Timur, both of whom are fast and know the car extremely well, so we just need to keep our focus clear, stay out of trouble and hope that both drivers keep healthy this year. If we can succeed in all of this, the success will follow."

Over the course of the winter break, GRX Taneco worked on re-engineering various components of the Hyundai i20 and completing an extensive testing program, in order to perfect the performance of the team’s Supercars and prepare the drivers for the upcoming challenge.

"We had a strong package last year – the combination of the team, car, and drivers was a real fit, so I feel confident going into the 2020 season," said Niclas Grönholm. "Obviously, I’m hoping to continue where I left off in Cape Town last year."

"I also think we have focused on the right things during the winter break and feel that, as long as we continue our hard work, it will pay off in the best possible way. This will be one hell of a season for GRX Taneco."

Three-time European Rallycross Champion Timur Timerzyanov has been competing in rallycross since 2014 and claimed his maiden World Rallycross win at Spa-Francorchamps last year with GRX Taneco. 

"For the third year in a row, I’m maintaining my FIA World RX commitment with GRX Taneco – a team with so much passion, hardworking people and really fast cars," he said. 

"We’ve proven that we can win and fight for the titles, so in 2020 I will be even more focused and motivated on achieving my life-long dream."

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Scheider retained alongside Muennich for 2020 World RX season.

Two-time DTM and World RX podium finisher Timo Scheider will remain with ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport for the full FIA World Rallycross Championship alongside team owner Rene Muennich. 

In 2019, Scheider qualified for the finals in Abu Dhabi and South Africa. The German claimed a fourth-place finish in Silverstone (Great Britain) his best result of the season.  

"I am super happy to go straight into my second season with ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport. Last year we expected to be better, which means our expectations for 2020 are even higher," he said.

“We should have been on the podium from time to time last year but this year podiums are a must-have."

"The car has been developed over the winter in different areas, so we hope to have taken 2-3 steps forward. Let’s get the season going to see where we are," he adds.

Scheider will be joined this season by team owner Rene Muennich. Muennich returns to World RX after a one-year hiatus.

"I’m glad to be back in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, joining Timo in our two-car team. Last year the racing in World RX was very competitive and we produced some solid results. We expect the same high level of close racing this season and I am personally looking forward to testing myself against the best drivers in the sport once again," he said.

2020 will be the last year of pure internal combustion engines [ICE] in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. In 2021, the World RX Supercar division will have a combination of ICE [petrol powered cars] and electric cars. 

In addition to taking part in the full 2020 campaign, ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport are planning to run electric cars in World Rallycross next year. 

"We welcome the plans for the FIA World Rallycross Championship to phase in electrification from 2021 and we are making plans to be part of this exciting future," Dominik Greiner, ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport team manager said.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Chicherit and Baciuska to disrupt World RX order with newly formed GCK UNKORRUPTED

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition
GCK UNKORRUPTED has become the first team to announce their participation in the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship. 

Team owner Guerlain Chicherit and Rokas Baciuška join forces with one aim in mind and that is to shake things up with the World RX front runners.

Having competed in the World RX championship for the last two years with a pair of Prodrive developed Renault Megane R.S.RX Supercars, the new team will field two Renault Clio R.S. RX cars.

The cars have undergone major developments in the off-season including a new engine update from ORECA, new BOS dampers, and significant work was done to improve weight distribution. 

"I won’t pull any punches: we’re here to cause trouble! I’m stoked to be bringing UNKORRUPTED into World RX, and together we will push the limits and not be afraid to ruffle some feathers," Chicherit said. "I’ve spent my whole career taking on new challenges and ‘changing the rules’, and this time is no different."

"I’m already psyched for the season to start, it feels like we’ve been waiting forever. Nothing in motorsport offers a bigger adrenaline rush than rallycross, and ever since my first time in World RX (back in 2015) I’ve had the rallycross bug."

"After getting some of my best results  and performances last season, and seeing all the work and testing that has gone into the Clio R.S. RX for this season, I can’t wait to get started with UNKORRUPTED."

20-year-old Rokas Baciuška completes the GCK UNKORRUPTED pairing for the 2020 season.

Baciuška won the European S1600 Championship in 2018, then joined the World RX field with ES Motorsport LABAS-Gas, before splitting with the Lithuanian team due to contractual issues. Soon after the split, Rokas joined the GCK Academy in a Megane R.S. RX, impressing everyone with his immediate pace. In only his third race, he took GCK’s (and his) first-ever qualifying win and first-ever overnight top qualifier at Loheac RX – a feat he repeated at the next race in Riga (Latvia).

"It’s awesome to be driving alongside Guerlain again – I loved the opportunity to join GCK last year and am super excited to be part of UNKORRUPTED this season," Baciuška said.  "2019 was a massive year for me as it proved to me and to others that I have the speed to compete right at the top of World RX.”

"But in 2020 I want even more. After seeing all the developments on the Clio R.S. RX, I just want to get started and push for the very top."

"I’m no longer the new kid on the block, so it’s time for me to take the gloves off and get to work."

It remains to be seen if GC Kompetition will field the Renault Megane R.S. RX in World RX this season.

Written By: Junaid Samodien

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Nürburgring reveals fast-paced World RX track.

PHOTO CREDIT: Nürburgring
The Nürburgring has revealed its new rallycross track at the circuit's official launch today.

Germany returns to the FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar after a one-year hiatus. 

Based around the Mullenbachsleife section of the Grand Prix circuit, the new one-kilometer track features alternating asphalt and gravel surfaces as well as fast corners and long straights. 

The start line for the World RX track is located at turn six (Nürburgring circuit), the highest point of the rallycross track, heading into a 90-degree right-hander to start the lap. From there the track drops down steeply after turn 2, transitioning from gravel to tarmac, before a second tarmac section at turn three, with the joker lap section positioned around the outside of turn 4, a left-hander followed by another gravel section before reaching the timing line positioned on the back straight. 

The circuit has an elevation change of over 15 meters across the lap and gradients of up to 12%.

"The track looks amazing and we are confident that the racing will be highly competitive and that World RX will become an important date on the German motorsport calendar," Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of motorsports events at IMG, said. "We are particularly looking forward to bringing Projekt E, our new rallycross electric racing series, to the Nurburgring."

Why South Africa needs a Formula E race.

PHOTO CREDIT: Panasonic Jaguar Racing.
The ABB FIA Formula E championship may soon make its way to a second African city (as it was announced today that Jaguar and the City of Cape Town are helping e-mobility to secure a round in the Mother City). In this article, we will look at why precisely this is such a great new opportunity for the City of Cape Town. 

You might not be a motorsport fanatic or even consider yourself as one, but this new thrilling silent form of motor racing could soon see you become a fan soon. Wherever you are on the spectrum, the announcement that the ABB FIA Formula E championship would make its way to South Africa is one of the biggest in motorsport (for South Africa) yet. 

Silently (pardon the pun) creeping into the motorsport fray since 2014, the Formula E championship has been a large investment opportunity for manufacturers and fans alike. While each motoring series (some more so than others) are pushing the technologies of road-legal automation ahead, Formula E should surely be considered as being on the forefront. 

South Africa and Africa has seen the resurgence of international motorsport on local soil in the past few years, welcoming the FIA World Rallycross Championship to Killarney in Cape Town, the Intercontinental GT series to Kyalami in Midrand, the Safari rally to Kenya, the Marrakesh ePrix in North Africa, and the World Endurance Championship for Kyalami in 2021. 

With both Formula E and Formula 1 (potentially) also being on the cards for the continent, Africa can again see itself at the forefront of the motorsport world. 

Here are a few reasons as to why the Cape Town ePrix will be in such high demand: 

    1. Cape Town as a world-leading city 

Cape Town has already set its targets for being a world-leading city. In many regards, this goal has already been reached. Not only does Cape Town see an annual increase in the influx of tourists, but it has also shown its strong citizen camaraderie by fighting off a complete drought. 

Except for being one of the happiest cities, with its lush beaches, sunshine and heaps of tourism activities, the City of Cape Town now aims to become the first city in South Africa to climb out of the Eskom darkness. For this to be done, governing bodies and the private sector will have to cooperate in creating new clean energy sources. 

Bringing clean motorsport to the streets of Cape Town will not only bolster the image of Cape Town but also stamp a firm aim as to what the city is aiming to achieve. 

    2. Manufacturer investment in South Africa 

In the world of motor manufacturing, both China and India are seeing exponential growth in car manufacturing plants. There are numerous reasons for this significant growth, which we will not delve into at this moment. 

However, South Africa is also seeing more and more investment, with brands like Volkswagen, Isuzu, Nissan and Mercedes recently investing more into their local plants. 

A racing series, luring 9 manufacturers (currently racing) and many others also watching, South Africa can not only see a boost in its local development but also potentially a surge into the development of alternative production to internal combustion engines. 

    3. Economic boost for the city and South Africa 

Again, many would state that an electric racing event will not lure as many spectators and tourists as many of the current championships in the country. Yet, Formula E is at the pinnacle of manufacturers’ involvement. 

Not only will it lure die-hard manufacturer teams, but also spectators, hoping to combine the beauty of Cape Town with an action-packed form of street racing. 

The ABB FIA Formula E championship not only significantly boosts the international image of a city (as has been proven during the last 6 seasons), but also combines the best of both worlds. 

It showcases the potential of silent autonomy within cities, whilst also providing close thrilling racing.  

In addition to the economic investment that comes with the Formula E championship, job creation is another benefit for South Africa. Returning year after year, Formula E will increase both annual and seasonal employment, whilst also creating new jobs across a number of industries.

    4. Taking new leaps towards city-friendly mobility 

Whilst the City of Cape Town is certainly aiming for this, South Africa is yet to see a true paradigm shift into electric mobility as seen in many other European countries. Electric and alternative sources for mobility will not only create fewer emissions and less of a financial burden on the consumer’s pocket but can ultimately change how we view current cities as a whole. 

Combined with new forms of energy sources and consumption, the cityscape as we currently know it can completely change. 

    5. A truly close championship 

The ABB Formula E championship has always seen very close racing. Even in its silence, the championship is much livelier than many other forms of open-wheel racing formats. 

Porsche and Mercedes joined the championship in season 6, joining the likes of Mahindra, BMW, DS (Citroen), Nissan, Audi, NIO, Andretti Autosport, and Jaguar. With this, the championship also sees a star-studded line up from the worlds of Formula 1 and endurance racing. 

While all the teams have similar parts on their GEN2 cars, teams still have the freedom of tweaking some parts in order to give them the edge. 

The competition has been extremely close during the past six seasons, with only Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) managing to win two championships. 

All five of the previous championships have come down to the wire, with all of them being decided within the last race weekend of the season. 

Last year saw the first eight races with different race winners, while the 2019/2020 season has seen five different individuals, winning the first five races. Jean-Eric Vergne became the first driver during the fifth season to break the streak in 2019, by winning his second race of the season in Monaco. Whereas pole position is somewhat a given in other open-wheel racing formats, this season alone has only Alexander Sims race from pole to win in Diriyah and Da Costa from pole to win in Marrakesh. 

The announcement that the ABB FIA Formula E championship will be making its way to Cape Town, is a truly marvelous new development. It will bolster the motorsport image and economy of South Africa alike. 

We are certainly looking forward to this! 

Written By: Franco Theron (PedalFest SA) & Junaid Samodien.

e-Movement declares intention to host Formula E in Cape Town.

PHOTO CREDIT: e-Movement/Jaguar Racing.
The Cape Town Formula E Bid Company, e-Movement has today confirmed its intention and plans to host an ABB Formula E race using a street circuit in the heart of Cape Town.

Last year the City of Cape Town announced that they had been approached by a Cape Town Consortium to host a Formula E championship event in the Mother City. A feasibility study was soon launched following the announcement. 

Momentum soon gathered when Iain Banner, Chairman of e-Movement announced at an FIA World Rallycross Championship press conference that they "will" the ABB FIA Formula E championship to Cape Town. 

The ABB Formula E championship has grown from strength-to-strength since it's inaugural round in Beijing in 2014, and to date, the championship has seen some of the biggest manufacturers, namely: Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Mahindra, etc. signing up. 

While Formula E entered its sixth season this year (2019/20), the championship will gain world championship status from the 2020–21 season.

Iain Banner, Chairman of e-Movement, confirmed that positive progress has been made following the feasibility study. “The objective of the study was to assess the suitability of Cape Town as a possible venue for a round of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in future seasons," he said. 

"Three possible circuit layouts have been identified and we are now in the process of exploring these possibilities with the City of Cape Town and other interested parties."

“As a starting point, the preliminary track layout and how it fits into the existing fabric of the precinct – as well as the future development proposals around the identified track – were all key factors in assessing the City of Cape Town’s suitability.

“The primary objective was to design a suitable circuit layout that will have minimum impact on the City, require minimum construction work, cause minimum disruption to general public and traffic, and, crucially, leave a lasting legacy”.

Banner added that the proposed event will simultaneously anchor a renewable energy week, comprising a major conference and exhibition in an industry which is poised for rapid growth over the next decade.

JP Smith, Cape Town's Mayco Member has welcomed a positive outcome of the feasibility study. 

"The event is so much more than an E-Prix - it provides an opportunity to position the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape region as the pioneering renewable energy hub of South Africa," Smith said.

"The event would not only showcase the natural beauty of our City but such an event places Cape Town at the forefront of alternative and green energy initiatives, and serves as a catalyst for attracting investment and the creation of employment in a sector for which major growth is projected in the foreseeable future".

In addition, e-Movement has announced that they secured the backing of Jaguar South Africa as Founding Partner for the initial stages of the project in Cape Town, as a potential Formula E candidate host city.

“Partnering with e-Movement to bring this premier motorsport event to South Africa, will assist in showcasing the tangible efforts Jaguar has made in infrastructure and carrying the momentum of all Electric Vehicles on a local level," said Lisa Mallett, Marketing Director: Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa.

"We look forward to introducing South Africans to our Panasonic Jaguar Racing Team and reaffirming that racing is in our blood - even when powered by electricity. We wish the entire project, including the broader alternative and green energy activities associated with this event and the simultaneous Energy Week proposed by the Bid Company, success."

Written By: Junaid Samodien

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Formula 1 to return to SA with F1 Fan Festival in March.

Formula 1®, together with Heineken® have announced the sport’s return to South Africa with an immersive fan festival.  On 29 March 2020 the Heineken® F1 Joburg Festival, in partnership with Gauteng Province, will treat Johannesburg residents to a thrilling fan event, and live car run featuring three F1 teams.

The Festival will give fans the opportunity to see 2019 Formula 1 World Championship runner-up Valtteri Bottas and F1 legend David Coulthard tear through the streets of Sandton as they bring the Grand Prix atmosphere to the heart of the city.

"We are excited to announce that F1 will be heading to South Africa this season, with the Heineken® F1 Joburg festival. South Africa has a very special place in Formula 1 history and we remain committed to returning to South Africa in the future," said Ellie Norman, Director of Marketing and Communications. "The festival will be an incredible opportunity for the people of Johannesburg to see F1 up close and personal, with live car runs, fan experiences and incredibile live music acts."

The amazing exhibition will be a must-see for Gauteng and all African F1 fans, who will be immersed into the world of F1, as the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Renault F1 teams roar above the reef at Africa’s first-ever F1 festival.  The day will be packed with fun-filled activities catering for all; including a fan zone featuring interactive activations such as the ‘DHL esports Challenge’ and the ‘Pirelli Pit-Stop’ Challenge along with spectacular car displays including supercars, SA Karting, F1600 and historic single-seaters.

Formula 1 legend and former Formula 1 World Championship winner, Jody Scheckter will also make a rare appearance in his 1979 title-clinching Ferrari as F1 marks its return to South Africa.

"I’m delighted that Formula 1 and SAGP have come together to bring an F1 Festival to South Africa for the first time and I am very excited to be involved in what promises to be an amazing spectacle on the streets of Joburg, South Africa has a long history with F1 and the Festival will provide a chance for fans to get up, close and personal with the sport," Scheckter said.

The Heineken® F1 Joburg Festival will be broadcast live on SuperSport and will feature live track activity starting at 1:30pm with the main F1 Live car run commencing at 3:30pm. From 5pm, Festival-goers will be treated to live music, with the festival closing at 8pm.

Tickets are available from Computicket from just R60 for a general admission ticket and can be purchased here:  

*NB - grandstand tickets will be made available at a later date. 

Friday, 7 February 2020

SuperSport confirms live motorsport coverage for 2020.

SuperSport has confirmed that it will broadcast the record 22-race Formula 1 season in 2020. The F1 coverage will include SkySports F1 feeds and additional supplementary programming as per the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

In 2017, the South African pay-tv broadcaster announced a long-term deal with SkySports, which included the broadcasting of the race build-up and post-race shows, as well as Ted’s Notebook, and other supplementary programming. 

However, it remains unclear if SuperSport instead to broadcast any of the SkySports F1's supplementary programming live [Press Conferences, F1 Show, Paddock Live, etc].

In addition to the confirmation that F1 will remain on SuperSport, the broadcaster has also confirmed other motorsport championships that will be broadcast in 2020:

    • MotoGP
    • World Rallycross Championship
    • Virgin Australian Supercars
    • FIA World Endurance Championship
    • Le Mans 24
    • F2 Live & F3 HL

Plus SuperSport’s usual motorsport magazine shows, ie Paddock Pass, F1 Insights, Mobil 1 The grid & many other highlight shows.

The list provided does not include the Verizon IndyCar Series, and it remains unclear if SuperSport will broadcast the series in 2020. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Abbring joins GCK for 2020 FIA European Rallycross campaign.

Kevin Abbring will return to supercars competition in the 2020 European Rallycross season with GC Kompetition, driving a Clio R.S. RX. 

The 31-year-old's motorsport career started off in rallycross in the Dutch Ford RST series, where he went on to win the 2005 and 2006 championships before moving to the Dutch Rally Championship in 2007. He impressed with class wins in both the WRC and IRC and made his top line WRC debut with Hyundai in 2015, scoring points and winning stages at the highest level of rallying.

After a decade in rallying, Abbring returned to rallycross making his World RX debut in Hell, Norway, with ES Motorsport where his debut appearance in dreadful conditions was nothing short of exceptional. He claimed a fourth-place finish in Norway and repeated that feat at the Swedish track in Höljes

The Dutchman will compete in his first full-time RX championship, and he is keen to get his first taste of the car.

"I’m very pleased to work with GCK, and engineering company FORS, from 2020 onwards! GCK is not only the team with arguably the biggest potential, it’s also a team with extremely experienced and motivated people, with whom I worked closely in the past," said Abbring. 

"The team has invested a lot in the car and our main focus now is to bring those pieces together and find the optimum balance. I can’t wait to get our test programme going and get a first taste of the car."

GCK has always been a team to push for sustainable motorsport developments and that is something that Kevin is equally passionate about.

"Guerlain and GCK have been leaders in the drive to find sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions in rallycross, as well as other motorsports. For me, it is a great opportunity to work on a sustainable future with a team that has a strong focus on future motorsport developments," he adds. 

"It also offers me the opportunity to fight for a championship again and that’s my key focus! I have a lot of respect for Guerlain and the team and I am proud to be part of GCK."

Guerlain Chicherit, the team owner of GC Kompetition, is excited that Kevin Abbring will join his team for the 2020 European RX championship. "I’m super stoked to have Kevin represent GCK in European Rallycross," he said. "Kevin has enormous talent and is super committed to the sport. I look forward to working closely with him and supporting him through our pre-season testing and the season to push for the Championship title."

GCK has also made several changes and developments behind the scenes over the off-season, including the appointment of Paul Bourion as General Manager. Bourion has more than 25 years’ experience in the motorsport industry.

Meanwhile, FORS have also reinforced their support to GCK through the recruitment of a new engineer, Sébastien Lessoneur who worked as Technical Director for Hyundai Motorsport, EKS Audi and ES Motorsport more recently on their rallycross programme. 

Following today's announcement, it remains unclear if the GCK Academy will remain in the World Rallycross Championship or move to the European Rallycross Championship.