The list of permanent competitors for the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy released today, suggests intense competition across the 10 rounds for series honours.
The quality, depth and multicultural mix of the competitors underlines the strength of World RX now in its fifth year.
A total of 16 permanent drivers in six teams and four individual entries representing eight automotive brands will battle for World RX bragging rights. Drivers from 11 countries bring a multi-national flavour to the series.
The list features some familiar names among teams and drivers and offers the chance for a number of young guns to make their mark in a championship that will be the most closely fought for some time.
Likely to have strong claims on the title, is the eye-catching pairing of flamboyant Briton Liam Doran and World RX front-runner Andreas Bakkerud of Norway who join forces in Audi S1s for the newly-formed Monster Energy RX Cartel team.
The Hansen brothers, Timmy and Kevin, sons of Kenneth, the most successful rallycross driver to date with 14 FIA European Rallycross titles, will campaign a pair of Peugeot 208s under the Team Hansen MJP banner.
In 2018, Timmy, 26, finished a solid sixth in the 2018 world championship, while Kevin, six years younger than his Swedish brother, was highly impressive en route to eighth place last year.
Marcus Gronholm’s GRX Taneco team will field a pair of Hyundai i20s for the highly-experienced Russian Timur Timerzyanov who is joined on the regular team roster by Niclas Gronholm, son of two-time World Rally Champion Marcus.
At 22, Niclas, a former Finnish Rallycross Champion, will seek to build on his impressive 2018 season in which he made the final four times and was clearly best of the non-factory drivers.
Latvia’s Reinis Nitiss will combine development driver duties for GRX Taneco with appearances at selected rounds – the first of which is likely to be the World RX of Abu Dhabi next month.
Building on their successful debut season in 2018, the French outfit GC Kompetition will field four permanent drivers in 2019.
Team owner Guerlain Chicherit, a professional skier and the first man in history to complete an unassisted backflip in a car, is joined by former European Rallycross Champion Anton Marklund of Sweden in Renault Meganes.
As part of an initiative to create a pathway for promising junior rallycross talent, in the sister GCK Academy team - RX2 graduates Cyril Raymond of France and Belgium’s Guillaume De Ridder - will be at the wheel of Renault Clios.
As first revealed in January, Latvia’s Janis Baumanis will represent Austrian team STARD in a Ford Fiesta, supported by Ford Performance. He will be joined in a second STARD car with a driver yet to be named.
The four individual entries will compete for the drivers’ title but do not claim team points.
Britain’s Oliver Bennett, who competed in selected World RX and ARX events in 2018, will pilot the Xite Racing Mini Cooper in his first full world championship season.
Former DTM champion Timo Scheider, who made a series of World RX outings in 2018 for ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport, carries the German team’s hopes for the entire season in an all-new Seat Ibiza. He will be joined by team owner Rene Munnich at selected events.
Krisztian Szabo competes for Mattias Ekstrom’s EKS Sport team, winners of both the drivers’ and teams’ titles in 2016. The Hungarian will run an Audi S1.
Flying the flag for younger generation, 19-year-old Lithuanian Rokas Bacisuka, the current FIA European Rallycross Champion in Super 1600, campaigns the Skoda Fabia for ESmotorsport – Labas Gas.
According to Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of IMG Motorsports, the series promoter, the strength of the entry list is testament to the healthy state of the championship.
“What we have put together is a high quality entry list which features names synonymous with world rallycross, and a number of young guns aiming for the world championship crown. This underlines the robust nature of the FIA World Rallycross Championship.
“The entry list illustrates the lure of World RX for both teams and drivers. We have all the ingredients for a fierce battle among privateer teams seeking the kudos of a world championship in one of motorsports’ most demanding environments.
“To have 11 nationalities of drivers and eight automotive brands going head-to-head adds further spice and intrigue.”
The 2019 season will also see increased connectivity with fans. “We will continue to innovate in 2019 by extending our live streaming offer as we seek to broaden our fan appeal,” Bellamy added.
“Last season we attracted over 400,000 views per race weekend on live streaming and our social media presence continues to grow. The nature of World RX, short, all-action races, the longest of which is just over five minutes, is very enticing for younger fans in this time-poor world we live in.”
The FIA World Rallycross Championship, launched in 2014, continues its expansion in 2019 with visits to Abu Dhabi for the season opener at Yas Marina Circuit on April 5-6 and the tantalising prospect of World Rallycross Supercars taking on the famed Eau Rouge at Spa-Francorchamps.
The festival nature of a World RX weekend will be brought to life at a number of venues none more so than the SpeedMachine weekend at Silverstone on May 25-26.