On the face of it racing rallycross cars at night is not a great idea. Rallycross cars do not have lights. Dust, or wet conditions that create vision problems during daylight would seem to be a greater hazard at night. And yet…
There have been several night races for rallycross and all have proven popular with those who took part and watching fans. Last weekend Liam Doran won when the British Rallycross Championship ran into darkness at Lydden Hill, the first time the Home of Rallycross had ever deliberately run at night. The track was lit by temporary lighting towers.
The last time the British Championship ventured into night time racing was a decade ago at Blyton where the event started in daylight and ran into the night, Kevin Procter the winner in a Ford Focus. In common with widely held views of endurance racing, many at that 2010 event felt that the racing in the dusk was the most atmospheric. The twilight zone between day and night at this mid-June event, and its gradually diminishing light levels offering the best of both worlds.
Modern rallycross cars have a lot going on inside them and it’s surprising just how much light there is from dashboard instrumentation and the interior mounted brake lights. The darkness and cooler night time temperatures also tend reveal glowing brake discs and other hot components.
That was much less apparent in June 1990 when Maasmechelen in Belgium hosted The Night of Rallycross Champions. In that Group B era event Martin Schanche guided his Ford RS200 to the victory ahead of the similar car of Pekka Rantanen and Tommy Kristoffersson’s Audi Quattro.
In 2019 the French rallycross Championship concluded its season with a day-night-day event at Dreux. Scheduling the first day of the event to run into darkness, Rallycross France made good use of end of season time in the event that was won by Samuel Peu.
The FIA World Rallycross Championship has also run at night. On its first visit to the Grand Prix de Troix Rivieres World RX ran under lights in the early evening. In 2015 the final was a little earlier in the afternoon, but still with lights of the street track on.
And then, of course, there was the spectacular opening to the 2019 season at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi where the finals were run at night but with the benefit of the fully lit circuit which gave World RX a stunning start to what became a truly amazing season.
While we do not intend this to be a definitive list of all night time rallycross events, it’s worth mentioning here that the Hungarian championship has also run night races at Mariapocs. And so, it seems that racing rallycross cars at night is a good idea. The cars look great, the racing is usually good and the track don’t need to lit to the kind of standards you see employed or F1, although at Abu Dhabi shows when there’s the chance to run in that environment, the spectacle is, well, spectacular.
Photos: Tom Banks, Henk de Winter, Tim Whittington, RalycrossFrance, World RX« Previous Post Next Post »