Higgins to rallycross, Bennett launches new Mini & Andros set to go electric

Seven days in rallycross, January 17

by Hal Ridge |

Three-time British Rally Champion Mark Higgins will race an Albatec Racing Peugeot 208 Supercar in at least the opening two rounds of the British Rallycross Championship this year, and is targeting a full campaign with the squad along with an appearance in his home round of the World Rallycross Championship at Silverstone. Higgins will drive the 208 that is being run this season in conjunction with the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering (NCME) at Bolton University, a collaboration that aims to provide career development opportunities for the next generation of motorsport engineers. “This is a really great opportunity and one that I’m very excited about. Albatec is a great team, probably the premier team in the UK with a proven, successful car and at this stage in my life I’ve learnt there’s only one way to do something, and that’s properly,” said Higgins. “The personnel involved with the project, like Andy Scott and Mark Busfield means we start from a strong position but I’m also excited about helping to develop the car. I’m very pleased to be competing in the UK again in an environment where hopefully a lot of people can support us. The competition is fierce in British RX, they go in pretty hard, and I’m not going into it too confidently, but I’m certainly not going there just to make up the numbers.”

British Rallycross Championship front-runner Oliver Bennett has revealed that he will race a brand new Mini Cooper S Supercar in selected rounds of the World Rallycross Championship this season, and is working on securing enough budget to contest the full series. The new Mini is being built by British firm Simpson Motorsport, with assistance on chassis design coming from Liam Doran’s LD Motorsports team. Bennett made his rallycross debut last year in an OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta, finished on the podium in all but two rounds and ended the season third overall. His XITA Racing team launched the new Mini at the Autosport International in Birmingham, where Bennett also drove his Fiesta in the Live Action Arena.

The first Andros Trophy event of 2018 took place at Isola 2000 last weekend, where points leader Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Renault Captur) took victory on day one ahead of DA Racing team mate Andrea Dubourg (Renault Captur) in the first one-two for the new car. Former F1 driver Frank Lagorce (BMW M2) finished third. In the second day it was Benoit Treluyer (Audi A1) who was victorious ahead of Evens Stievenart (Mazda 3) and Oliver Pernaut (Mazda 3). JB Bubourg continues to lead the series. Eddy Benezet (BMW M2) and Lionel Daziano (Audi A1) took victories in the Elite category, while Vincent Beltoise and Dorian Boccolacci both won in the Electric support category. Aurelien Panis continues to lead the points. Double DTM champion and World RX driver Timo Scheider made his debut in the series and finished seventh in both events. Results here.

The headline Elite Pro class in the Andros Trophy series is expected to convert to being fully electric for the 2020 season, with four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer cars similar to those currently used in the category. A new development car built by Exagon Engineering is set to be run in events this month, before ICE (internal combustion engine) cars and electric machines run together next winter. Exiting teams will be encouraged to convert existing cars using a ‘plug and play’ battery, inverter and motor setup. The new electric cars will use a single-speed transmission.

The Global Rallycross Championship will be run over 12 rounds in 2018, held on eight weekends. The series finale will be held in Europe, but the venue of the European double-header is one of two TBCs in the released schedule. The series last held at event at X Games Munich, in 2013. The GRC season will begin at Louisville in mid-May and also visit New Orleans, Los Angeles, Indianapolis and Seattle.

Euro RX TouringCar racer Kjetil Larsen will graduate to Euro RX Supercar for 2018 in a Volkswagen Polo Supercar previously raced by Anton Marklund at the end of the 2016 season. The car was built by Marklund Motorsport for Marklund to contest the end of that year’s campaign after sustaining damage to his previous car in an accident in the Canadian World RX round. Larsen will race in the five-round Euro RX series and hopes to compete in his home round of World RX in Norway.

British RX Super1600 racer Darren Scott has teamed up with British Touring Car Championship outfit Team HARD for his assault on the 2018 title. Scott’s car is run from Pirtek Medway, but the Team HARD link will “help with a range of things from geometry to suspension setup and a lot of advice on things that will help,” said Scott. The Kent driver is also hoping to race in Belgian Championship events in 2018.

The BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship has opened overall honors up to all of the full-time categories in the series. For 2018, Production 4×4 and the Junior class will be eligible for overall BTRDA gold star honours, joining the Super Modified, Production and Historic categories. The overall title was won by Jeff Hope-Davies in 2017. “It’s only fair that the Production 4×4 and Junior drivers have the chance to win the overall BTRDA rallycross title,” said Championship Manager, John Rook. “It’s going to be pretty crazy going into the final event, but we’re changing things slightly so that the final round isn’t double points anymore. That will make things significantly simpler, but still with five categories going for the overall title it will be really close.”

We are sad to record the recent death of Tony Drummond (76) and extend our sympathies to his family and friends. A rally driver of note through the 1970s the Yorkshireman was partnered by some of best co-drivers including Mike Nicholson, Phil Short and David Richards. Making the move into rallycross late in the decade, Drummond quickly established himself as a leading player – and technical innovator who always engineered his own cars. His battles with John Welch are the stuff of legend. Their duel for the 1980 British crown ended in tears, and two years later, again at Lydden, there was another epic battle.
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