Catalunya calling: The countdown is on to 2021 World RX curtain-raiser
Champions, race-winners and exciting dark horses set for sunset showdown in Spain
New FIA RX2e Championship to shine a spotlight on rallycross’ electric future
RX+ broadcast platform offers fans unprecedented access to entertainment throughout
The wait is almost over. In less than seven days’ time, the FIA World Rallycross Championship will fire into life in Barcelona for its eagerly-anticipated 2021 curtain-raiser – World RX of Catalunya (23-24 July) – as battle begins for the honour of being crowned the series’ final petrol-powered champion.
Following a long off-season, excitement levels are now approaching fever pitch, with liveries revealed, testing completed and 17 of the finest dual-surface specialists on the planet headed for Spain to get World RX’s ever-spectacular show on the road.
Not only are there new faces in new places, but the track itself is set to pose drivers a fresh challenge, with the notoriously tight Turn One left-hander replaced by a wider, sweeping first corner that borrows a section of the famous Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya Formula 1 layout.
The format, too, has undergone a shake-up, with the competitive action due to kick off in the afternoon and continue into the evening on both days in the Spanish city.
Defending world champion Johan Kristoffersson leads the line-up, but the Swede – three times a title-winner at the international pinnacle of the discipline – has switched cars over the off-season. He is preparing to fight for his fourth Drivers’ crown behind the wheel of an Audi S1, fielded by Mattias Ekström and Joel Christoffersson’s KYB EKS JC outfit, which claimed the Teams’ trophy in 2020 at its first attempt.
Kristoffersson will be partnered by ever-improving sportscar convert Enzo Ide, while siblings Timmy and Kevin Hansen similarly have their eyes fixed solidly on the main prize for family-run squad Hansen World RX Team.
The elder of the two Swedes lifted the laurels in dramatic fashion in Cape Town two years ago and – like Kristoffersson – was a winner in Barcelona back in October, so is sure to be a threat from the outset. Younger brother Kevin, meanwhile, has reached the rostrum on seven occasions over the past two campaigns and is bullish about his prospects for success behind the wheel of the team’s proven Peugeot 208.
Niclas Grönholm might not be a world champion – yet – but the Finn came extremely close in 2019, when an early-season bout of appendicitis almost certainly cost him a shot at overall glory, and in GRX-SET World RX Team’s Hyundai i20, he has a potent package at his disposal. The same can be said for team-mate Krisztián Szabó, as the Hungarian returns for his second full season at the highest level.
After impressing in a number of one-off appearances – even leading the final on his debut in Norway two years ago – former rally driver Kevin Abbring at last gets his big break in rallycross this season in an Unkorrupted Renault Mégane, while two-time DTM champion Timo Scheider achieved his maiden World RX podium in Barcelona in 2017 and is fired-up to produce a repeat performance in his ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport SEAT Ibiza.
If you are looking for a dark horse, however, you would do well to consider Juha Rytkönen, who on his World RX bow at Kouvola last summer, duelled with Kristoffersson before going on to finish an excellent second. The flying Finn is back for another crack in 2021, rejoining the fray in a Betomik Racing Ford Fiesta and determined to show that his scene-stealing debut was no flash in the pan.
In the supporting FIA RX2e Championship, fans will get a glimpse of the sport’s new era as an intriguing mixture of young guns and experienced hands go doorhandle-to-doorhandle in the quest to secure the first-ever FIA electric rallycross championship title, before the World Championship follows suit with the advent of RX1e from 2022.
Incorporating a motor on each axle that together deliver 250kW (335bhp) of power and up to 510Nm torque, the RX2e ‘pocket rocket’ – jointly developed by Spanish electro-mobility specialist QEV Technologies and Swedish rallycross powerhouse Olsbergs MSE – is certain to produce some superb racing as it puts driver skill firmly at the forefront.
The ever-popular FIA European Rallycross Championship’s rebaptised Euro RX3 (formerly Super1600) series will also get its season underway in Spain. Having been a fertile breeding ground for numerous heroes of the discipline – including the likes of Szabó, Andreas Bakkerud and Timur Timerzyanov – it will be fascinating to see who emerges on top this year and stakes their own claim to future rallycross superstardom.
Racing is set to begin at 1545 CET on Friday (23 July), with all of the action across the board to be livestreamed in glorious HD quality via the cutting-edge new RX+ broadcast platform. This premium production will grant subscribers unparalleled and unprecedented access anytime, anywhere and on any device, offering a choice of viewing angles, in-depth expert analysis, special behind-the-scenes features and exclusive interviews.
The Full Season Pass is currently on sale for the special launch price of €29,99, representing a 40% discount on the regular price of €49,99 and guaranteeing access until the end of the year. The Event Pass for World RX of Catalunya is currently available for €4,79 (using promo code RXPLUS40), again representing a 40% saving on the regular price of €7,99.
For more information or to subscribe, visit www.fiaworldrallycross.com
Tickets to World RX of Catalunya can still be purchased here, starting from as little as €19,95.
For the full Catalunya World RX entry list, click here
For the full Catalunya RX2e entry list, click here
For the full Catalunya Euro RX3 entry list, click here