Fiat cars in rallycross

Historically a mixed bag, Fiat is now at the forefront of electric rallycross

by Rallycross World |

Fiat has not enjoyed great success in rallycross. Over the years there have been those to try their hand in one of the Italian cars, but it would be fair to say they have never set the world alight. This weekend at Lydden as the Motorsport UK British Rallycross Championship 5 Nations Trophy gets underway, Fiat cars play a key role in moving the series ahead. The new Electro Rallycross series that will run at some British RX events this year uses Fiat 500es prepared by Polish company Elimen Racing, five of the production-based electric cars on-hand at Lydden for the first event.

Rallycross World | Electro Rallycross, Fiat 500e, electric rallycross_10
Fiat’s 500e electric car is the basis of the new Electro Rallycross series in Britain.

Poland has form with Fiat cars in rallycross. The one-make series for the tiny Sceicento model has run for many years and produced some drivers who have gone on to greater things, most notably Krzysztof Skorupski. There has also been a Polish series for the even smaller Fiat 126. Ireland also had a one-make Fiat series using the Uno which were plentiful as there had also been a one-make circuit race series for the cars.

Rallycross World | Skorupski, Slomczyn, 2009, Fiat Sceicento
Krzysztof Skorupski is the most prominent driver to have emerged from Poland’s Fiat one-make series.

Today is too warm for an Anorak so in a not very scientific trawl of the archives, it seems to us that the Fiat X1/9 is perhaps, if not the most successful, then the model that has been most widely used in rallycross. To qualify that, it was adopted by a handful of drivers in Britain and Holland in the 1980s when it’s relatively light constructioin and mid-engined layout must have made it an appealing option to a Porsche.

Rallycross World | Harry Hope, Fiat X1/9 Lydden 1984
The X1/9 model was used by several drivers, this is Harry Hope at Lydden in 1983.
Rallycross World | Gerrit Bouwhuis_Fiat X1:9_Lydden (GBR)_1985
Dutchman Gerrit Bouwhuis on a British awayday at Lydden in 1985.
Rallycross World | Brian-Peacock_Fiat-X19_Brands-Hatch_GBR_1986
Probably the most successful driver in an X1/9 was Brian Peackock, a regular 1600cc class front runner.
Rallycross World | Julian Greenway, Fiat X1/9, Croft 1986
Julian Greenway’s Fiat X1/9 at Croft in 1986.

At a time when the Ford Fiesta was beginning to take over from the Mini as the default front-wheel drive rallycross car the adventurous cast around for alternatives. One such was British racer Norman Foord who used a Fiat Ritmo (or Strada) in UK events in ther early 1980s. Dutchman Bram van de Wege used a Group A version of the car in International events.

Rallycross World | Norman Foord_Fiat Ritmo_Brands Hatch 1983
Norman Foord’s Fiat Ritmo, Brands Hatch 1983.
Rallycross World | Bram-van-de-Wege_Fiat-Ritmo_Melk 1987
European Championship Melk 1987, Bram van de Wege’s Fiat Ritmo.

Another Dutch racer to choose Fiat was Tineke de Poorter who used her ‘Supercar’ version of the Fiat Coupe in home national events and round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship.

Rallycross World | Rallycross Supercar, Tineke de Poorter_Fiat Coupe_187-8718_IMG
Tineke de Poorter’s Fiat Coupe ‘Supercar’.

The Fiat 131 became a successful rally car but those who tackled rallycross in it, most notably European Champion Franz Wurz, met with less success. The example below was used in British events in the middle-80s, this is David Cox at the wheel.

Rallycross World | David Cox_Fiat 131_Croft (GBR)_1986
The Fiat 131 was never a match for an Escort. David Cox waves a wheel at Croft.

The Fiat Uno Turbo popped up here and there as a Group A challenger in the late 1980s. This (not great) picture is Austrian H. Mayerfhofer getting excited at Melk in 1987.

Rallycross World | Mayerhofer, Fiat Uno Turbo, Melk, 1987
Melk 1987 again, Mayerhofer showboating.

If Fiats are ever going to find their way into rallycross in a meaningful way it should be in Italy. The recent advent of a national championship had seen use of the Grand Punto S2000 rally car so surely only a matter of time before we see an RX3 or RX1 challenger.

The Fiat Grande Punto S2000 rally car has made an appearance in RX Italia.
Not rallycross, but interesting and sort of relevant, so enjoy this four-wheel drive Fiat 500 ice racer.

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