Loeb dominates headlines as rallycross season set to get underway

by Hal Ridge |

As the rallycross season gets underway this weekend, the headline news of the week is unquestionable. Nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb will race for Team Peugeot-Hansen in the FIA World Rallycross Championship this season, alongside Swede Timmy Hansen. Loeb has raced in one European-based rallycross event previously, at Loheac in 2013, and also won rallycross gold medal at X Games 2012. This year will be the Frenchman’s first full season of rallycross. “I’m very excited by this opportunity to participate in the full Rallycross Championship for the first time,” said Loeb. “Over the years I have been fortunate to participate in some truly amazing racing, but rallycross – with the sheer power and the competiveness of the Peugeot 208, plus the intense nature of the competition – will be something very special. The car and the strategy for this type of racing is completely new to me, so I have a lot to learn, but I hope I can be competitive pretty soon.”

Sebastien Loeb performs during the Rallycross on Ice project in Are, Sweden on February 16, 2016 // Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool // P-20160226-00286 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //

The Hansen team will also run a pair of cars under the Peugeot Hansen Academy banner, for 2015 World RX event winner Davy Jeanney and reigning RX Lites champion, Kevin Hansen. The younger Hansen brother will race in the Euro RX series and select World RX events.

Sebastien Loeb, Kevin Hansen, Timmy Hansen and Davy Jeanney pose for a group portrait during the Rallycross on Ice project in Are, Sweden on February 16, 2016 // Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool // P-20160226-00282 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //

Latvian Reinis Nitiss also announced his 2016 plans this week. Having previously revealed his departure from OMSE on Facebook, Nitiss announced that he will drive a brand new Seat Ibiza RX Supercar for the All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport team. The second driver for the squad is yet to be announced. “World RX is currently developing at a very fast pace, and we began discussions with multiple teams late last year, with All-Inkl.com coming out on top with their action plan and potential. The engineers and specialists have years of experience in top level racing series – GT1, WTCC and rallycross and I believe that we will be competitive in the championship with the new Seat Supercar,” said Nitiss.

Nitiss will race new Ibiza Supercar. ©RallycrossWorld.com/RA Events

Ford Performance released computer-generated images of the Ford Focus RS Supercar that Andreas Bakkerud and Ken Block will race this season in the World Championship for Hoonigan Racing Division. The car is being built and developed by British concern, M-Sport, that previously built the Ford Fiestas that Block has used in recent years. “RS is a worldwide brand with a rich heritage that motorsports enthusiasts know and love. Our RS badge has a natural connection to racing, and we have a passionate, dedicated team on the project. We’re excited to honor the history of Rallye Sport by pushing every aspect of performance and design to the limit,” said global director of Ford Performance, Dave Pericak.

Ford Performance launched new Focus RS rallycross car. ©RallycrossWorld.com/Ford Performance

The opening round of the MSA British Rallycross Championship takes place this weekend at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire, where 16 Supercars will take to the start line. Among them, and in the news this week, multiple rallycross champion Dave Bellerby will graduate to the Supercar category with an ex-Dermot Carnegie / Liam Doran / David Binks Ford Fiesta, that has been fully rebuilt by Tony Bardy Motorsport. Bellerby’s brother-in-law Kevin Procter will also race at the opening round of the season in his Ford Fiesta, as he embarks on a season of British, European and World Rallycross events.

Bellerby will race ex-Carneige Fiesta. ©RallycrossWorld.com/Tim Whittington

Elsewhere in the British Championship opener, Tony Lynch will race an ex-Phil Collard / Ben Power / Gareth Wood Ford KA in the Supernational championship, while 2015 MSA Junior Rallycross Champion Bradley Durdin will race in the Swift Sport Championship in a Peter Gwynne run car. The Retro Rallycross Championship for period rallycross machines will be a championship for the first time in 2016, drivers in the division will start accumulating points towards their championship tally this weekend at Croft.

Tony Lynch will race a Ford KA in Supernational British RX this season. ©RallycrossWorld.com/Hal Ridge

The Belgian Rallycross Championship gets underway on Sunday, where Jochen Coox starts as favourite for victory with his recently acquired Marklund Motorsport built Volkswagen Polo Supercar, while in Ireland the opening round of the Irish Rallycross Championship takes place at Mondello Park, where double European Rallycross Champion Derek Tohill will compete in his OlsbergsMSE built Ford Fiesta Supercar.

The Global Rallycross Championship has announced that a new event will feature on the American-based championship’s calendar in 2016 at Atlantic City, New Jersey on August 28. In a press release, the GRC stated “The race will take place at Bader Field, the first municipal airport licensed to serve both airplanes and seaplanes, and more recently a host to numerous concerts and festivals.”

The BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship held a pre-season test day at Blyton Park on Sunday, where 42 cars and over 50 drivers took part. Former Super Modified front-runner Mike Dresser debuted a new Honda Civic that he will share with his partner Sue Lane in the championship this season. A number of new drivers also took part in the test day.

Mike Dresser sampled new Civic for the first time on a rallycross circuit, following an airfield shakedown. ©RallycrossWorld.com/Hal Ridge

The second and third rounds of the RallyX on Ice series took part on two consecutive Fridays, at Salen and Trysil respectively. In round two of the winter championship for Supercar Lites, STCC driver Richard Goransson claimed victory ahead of OMSE driver Kevin Eriksson and Lites regular Alexander Westlund. Miki Weckstrom finished fourth with Sondre Evjen fifth and Thomas Holmen sixth. In round three at Trysil in Norway, it was Thomas Bryntesson who claimed the win after taking an early joker lap in the final. Former WRC driver Patrik Sandell finished second with Westlund third and Holmen fourth. Oliver Eriksson finished fifth of the five cars. Westlund leads the points table ahead of Kevin Eriksson and Bryntesson with one round to go.

John Horton, former chairman of the British Rallycross Drivers Association, died February 26. Horton (68) was most well known for his extensive work in rallying where he managed the British Championship and ran the press office at Britain’s WRC round. he was also press officer for the British Grand Prix and much, much more. He was involved in British rallycross for several years in the early 2000s, helping chart sometimes rocky waters and keeping a calm hand on the tiller. His period in charge came to an end when British rallycross was significantly restructured after the Doran family took control of Lydden Circuit and management of the British championship passed to it. Horton was always accommodating and helpful, never anything less than a perfect gent. He died from complications following a heart attack suffered while out walking, one of the great passions of his busy and active life. Our sympathies are with his family and very many friends.

For many people Etienne Reuten was, via his business Hotel Lika, the main sponsor of the Duivelsberg at Maasmechelen. But Reuten was also one of the first people involved in rallycross in Belgium and in Europe. In the early seventies Reuten was one of a group of five people who introduced rallycross to Belgium, he remained honorary member of the board of the BRCV (Belgian RallyCross Association). In the mid-70s BRCV came under the wing of the Belgian ASN, the RACB and then, together with Andre Reul, Reuten strengthened his grip on rallycross at Maasmechelen in the early 1980s. He remained the leading light in the BRCV until the illness that foreshadowed his death at 83 on February 26. Our condolences go to his wife, children and close relatives.




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