Formula One is in a state of flux. Currently, both drivers and fans are at odds with how the pinnacle of motor racing is being handled by those above. There’s been lots of whinging and some sarcastic Instagram posting, leaving many scratching their heads at how to get the sport back to its pomp.
Luckily, none of that’s an issue for F1’s adolescent cousin: World Rallycross.
Since becoming a fully-fledged FIA World Championship two years ago, the raucous rallycross circus keeps going from strength to strength – something proved at last weekend’s season opener in Montalegre, Portugal.
For the uninitiated, Rallycross (or RX, if you’re down with the kids) is a mixtape of all the best bits of motorsport blended together.
The top tier cars are 600bhp four-wheel-drive monsters, cloaked in carbon fibre silhouettes of everyday superminis like Citroen DS3s, Peugeot 208s, VW Polos and Audi S1s. It’s quite obvious they’re not your everyday city cars as soon as drivers line up on the grid.
With a flick of a switch and a hefty prod of the throttle, turbos spool up and anti-lag systems kick in, filling the track with a din like an arson attack on a firework factory. Then, with the release of a handbrake, 0-60mph is hit in 1.9 seconds, pace that’d leave Lewis Hamilton’s F1 car lagging behind.
The series also continues to be a magnet for very serious, esteemed and quick motorsport legends.
Names on the driver roster this season include WRC Champion Petter Solberg, DTM Champion Mattias Ekström, GRC Champion Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen and X-Games champ Liam Doran. Not too shabby. But there are also two other, perhaps more notable names: Ken Block and Sébastien Loeb.
Yep, this weekend, Mr YouTube Views went up against Pikes Peak King of the Hill and rally legend Loeb, as well as his old WRC rival Petter Solberg.
The latter is also last year’s reigning champ, and Solberg came out on top again, with the Audis of Robin Larsson and Topi Heikkinen taking the second and third steps on the podium.
WRC’s nine-time champ Seb Loeb had a good first outing and was set to finish on the podium. However, he was knocked out of contention following a transmission problem in the final.
Mechanical gremlins also disrupted Ken Block’s race. His Hoonigan Ford Focus RS had a glitch that meant his throttle was stuck wide open when trying to brake into a corner. Not a bad thing when making Gymkhana videos, but not so good when racing five other drivers on a twisty circuit…
But one aspect where rallycross never fails to deliver is in pictorial brilliance. With massive jumps, liberal amounts of suspension travel, fire, mucky conditions and some, um, generous ‘nudging’, we’ve galleried the best shots from the weekend into the gallery above. Get clicking to see which of the 600bhp beasts you most want to get dirty.
If you want to see the action for yourself, round two of World RX takes place in three weeks’ time, as the World Championship returns to Hockenheim in Germany to join DTM for a double whammy of motorsport goodness.