One of the naturally fastest drivers to have graced British rallycross paddocks in recent years, Devonian Jack Thorne is at a crossroads in his motor sport career, and is yet to decide if he will mainly compete in rallying or rallycross moving forwards.
Thorne entered the British RX scene with a self-built Citroen C2 Super1600 in 2014 and immediately won the class title. Interspersed by a Supercar debut in the BTRDA Clubmans Championship in late 2015 with a Ford Focus, before briefly using an OlsbergsMSE-built Fiesta for the first three rounds of the 2016 British RX campaign, Thorne raced in British and European events with a brace of SET Promotion built Renault Twingos in 2018 and 2019.
But, he returned to Supercar late during his maiden European Super1600 campaign [in 2019] at Lydden Hill for a British RX event, where he delivered an eye-opening performance to finish second in the OMSE Fiesta previously used by Thomas Bryntesson to good effect in Euro and Nordic RX.
The car was initially intended to be used for a full 5 Nations BRX campaign in 2020, but with racing on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Thorne acquired a Hyundai i20 R5 rally machine, and having not raced in round one of the British series, he skipped the second weekend in December to make his rally debut in a Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship round at Donington Park. His debut was hampered by a boost issue not resolved until after the event. Even so, he finished 20th.
That sparked an idea. Although the double British Super1600 champion could use the Fiesta this year for selected events, if Thorne returns to rallycross for a concerted effort, which he is keen to do, it’s likely to be in a new Hyundai and could be the first if it’s kind to be used in the British scene.
“If I came back into rallycross I would want to do it with a Hyundai. We do a lot with with Hyundai road cars in our garage and I love them on the road. Now I’ve got the rally car and I can’t describe how that is to drive – it’s unreal,” said Thorne. “I’d love to make something happen where I could use a Hyundai in rallycross. The Fiesta is for sale, but whether it would be that we use all the running gear off the OMSE car and put that into a Hyundai shell ourselves, or to get something else I don’t really know. If money was no object that’s what I would do as it (the R5) is a phenomenal bit of kit, it just doesn’t have enough horses (horsepower) for rallycross.”
Thorne says rallying is his main focus for 2021, first in the MN Circuit Racing Championship, but if rally events are again hit by COVID-19 restrictions, he won’t be disappointed to do more rallycross.
“If it’s not looking like there’s going to be many rallies on, I’ll go off and do some rallycross. The thing with the rallying and rallycross for us, rallying is cheaper, but the buzz of rallying isn’t the same as rallycross,” he said. “It’s a different feeling, the adrenalin doesn’t get going when you’re sat on the grid. With rallying it’s like you’re out for the day, but with rallycross in every single corner its life or death. I wasn’t half as tired, even though it was a lot more seat time, coming back home after the rally, but I think that’s because of the adrenalin takes it out of you [in rallycross].”
Hyundai’s ultra-successful i20 R5 platform has already been used in rallycross, and a car prepared by Sarrazin Motorsport made its inaugural World RX start in Spain last year with Frenchman Patrick Guillerme.
Norwegian Frode Holte was the first to campaign a Hyundai in World RX events, but the programme failed to return the kind of form Holte had previously shown in his Volvo C30.
The biggest success for the Hyundai brand in rallycross though has come with Marcus Gronholm’s GRX squad, running WRC-derived i20s in World RX as a collaborative effort with SET Promotion.
From the project launch in late 2017, Niclas Gronholm has claimed a trio of wins in the car that was arguably the class of the field in 2019, with triple-European Champion Timur Timerzyanov also ending a seven-year win drought with the car in 2019, amid a number of podiums.« Previous Post Next Post »