Permanent World and European rallycross drivers announced in busy week
by Hal Ridge |
The dominating rallycross news from the last Seven Days has been from teams and drivers confirming permanent participation in the FIA World Rallycross Championship and FIA European Rallycross Championship, punctuated by the official list, which was released by championship organisers on Thursday.
The full list, which can be found here, includes 17 permanent World RX Supercar entries, comprising of seven two-car teams and three individual entries. 23 permanent Euro RX Supercar drivers have also been revealed, and in addition to news released in advance, key points of interest include Mats Ohman in a Ford Fiesta, Tord Linnerud in a Volkswagen Polo and 2015 EuroRX TouringCar Champion Fredrik Salsten, while Jerome Grosset-Janin and team owner Andy Scott will join new recruit Tommy Rustad in the Albatec Racing team.
In addition to the Supercar line-ups, 18 full time drivers have been announced in Super1600, with 15 in TouringCar. With Janis Baumanis and Fredrik Salsten both graduating to Supercar from the two respective categories, nether will feature a back-to-back champion this year.
The week began with the news that Toomas Heikkinen will join Mattias Ekstrom in the EKS World RX team this season, driving a pair of Audi S1 Supercars. It was confirmed before the close of 2015 that Heikkinen wouldn’t be driving for the Marklund Motorsport team this season, and EKS left it until the final few days before the full championship announcement to confirm the Finn as partner to double DTM champion Ekstrom, who will again compete in as many rallycross events as he can this year, for his own team. “I think EKS is a great bunch of guys and one of the most professional teams in the entire World RX. I’m gloating over to be fighting for trophies at the wheel of the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro. Mattias has been a quite good friend of mine since 2013, when we competed in X Games. Our idea about motorsport is the same: We want to win races,” said Heikkinen.
On Tuesday, British team JRM Racing announced that British driver, Liam Doran, will drive a sole permanent Mini RX Supercar for the squad n 2016. JRM raced at five World RX events last season, Guy Wilks scoring a best finish of sixth overall at Lydden Hill on the team’s second outing. The Mini RX will have an upgraded engine package for 2016, moving from a 1.6-litre to a 2.0-litre custom unit. Doran leaves his own LD Motorsports run Citroen DS3 to join the programme, but does have previous form in a Mini Supercar, he gold medal at X Games Munich in 2013 driving a similar car. “This is something I’ve been working towards for the last couple of years – being able to go at the championship professionally as a driver with a capable and successful team. It’s exciting for me to have the chance to do that. I know I can just do the driving in 2016. That’s the most important part for me,” said Doran.
Eklund Motorsport has announced that Finn Joni-Pekka Rajala will remain with the team in 2016 to compete in Euro RX, moving from a Saab 93 to drive the Volkswagen Beetle that was debuted by the squad in 2015 and was driven by Daniel Holten, Per Eklund and Henning Solberg in Rally X Nordic and World RX events. Rajala will contest the full Euro RX championship, partnering Alexander Hvaal. “It’s really nice to work together with Eklund Motorsport again this season. Last year everything went really, really well – the team and car were great. This year, I want to fight for a podium finish in the European Championship with the Volkswagen Beetle,” said Rajala.
Swedish team OlsbergsMSE have revealed that it will run a pair of Honda Civic Supercars for Sebastien Eriksson and Joni Wiman in the American-based Global Rallycross Championship this season. The team launched the new car in New York, and will begin testing the new machine shortly ahead of the start of the season. The squad will continue to run its existing Ford Fiesta Supercars in the FIA World Rallycross Championship this season for Kevin Eriksson and Niclas Gronholm.
The second round of the MSA British Rallycross Championship takes place this weekend at Lydden Hill, where the British RX series is joined by the Belgian Rallycross Championship. Among regular British drivers in the event, 2016 World RX Team Austria driver Janis Baumanis will race an RX150, while Liam Doran will get his second underway by racing the Citroen C4 that he took to his first X Games gold medal in LA. Paul Coney will debut a brand new Vauxhall Corsa D Super1600 car. The body shell for the new machine has been built by Harry Hockly Motorsport. Coney intends to contest the remaining seven rounds of the British RX championship and also has plans to venture into Europe with the new machine.
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