We should have been in Barcelona this weekend, and those not lucky enough to be there in person would have been connected to the event, eager for every detail of the FIA World RX season opener.The FIA formally recognised rallycross in 1976, but the championship has its roots in the 1973 Embassy Trophy. So, what we now know as the FIA World Rallycross Championship – the World title conferred in 2014 – can trace its ancestry back to May 1973 at Melk in Austria.
Over 47 years the FIA championship and its forbear has only ever started at 11 different venues in seven countries.This year the opener is postponed because of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. As far as we can tell from research, only once in the past has the first round ever been cancelled. Britain has that unfortunate place in history, when the first round of the 1993 season was cancelled amid a a political tussle between TEAC, the organising club of the British event at Lydden Hill and the ERA (the organisers’ association that at the time ran a parallel championship and sold TV rights). In 1989 the Spanish event at Sils-Girona formed round one, but only just went ahead. The majority of Norwegian drivers stayed away, as did many other leading competitors and a blind eye was turned to fact that the event did not have enough starters to qualify for points until the second day.
From 1973 and including the 1987 event, Austria had a monopoly on the first race of the year, Melk it’s spiritual home with Horn-Fuglau hosting for the first time in 1979 and then generally alternating with Melk.In 1988 the series opener was held in Spain at Sils-Girona.
Three years later it was again the Iberian peninsula that introduced a new venue for round one as Portugal made its debut with an event at Lousada. The following year Great Britain moved from it’s more traditional place late in the season to stage the opening event in the year that rallycross celebrated the 25th anniversary of the first event, which was run at Lydden on 4 February 1967.
The Czech Republic first appeared in the championship in 1995 with an event at Sosonva. But in 1999 it was the turn of Sedlcany to host the championship for the first time, and it staged round one.
France was the stage for the season opener in 2001 when Loheac was not in September, but in May. Four years later, Essay made its first appearance as host of the first event of the 2005 season.
Lousada was frequently the scene for the first gathering of the year, but when the troops assembled in Portugal at the start of 2007 it was in the hills of the north as Montalegre made its first appearance in the championship and staged round one. In 2014 Montalegre would also be the host for the first ever World Rallycross Championship event.
In the World Championship era, just two venues have joined this select list of opening venues, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya opening the year for the first time in 2017 and Yas Marina Circuit lifting the curtain on what would become one of the best championships ever in 2019.
This year we should have been back in Barcelona for round one, but nothing is normal now and the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus Covid-19 means that we do not yet know where or when round one will take place, and so it seems highly likely that we may add a new name to the roll-call of round one venues.« Previous Post Next Post »