Catalunya sets the stage for 2018 World RX curtain raiser

Catalunya sets the stage for 2018 World RX curtain raiser

Catalunya, World RX

The 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy roars into action this weekend as the opening round of the eagerly-anticipated 12-event season kicks off with the World RX of Catalunya-Barcelona on 14-15 April.

A field of 15 permanent Supercar entries will battle it out for the coveted World RX Drivers’ title this season

Reigning champion Johan Kristoffersson will face a renewed challenge from a high-quality line-up.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya once more sets the scene for the World RX season opener. The Joker Lap sequence led to memorable moments in previous years as drivers tackle the parallel, off-camber track sections. The start line is at a new position ahead of this year’s event. Turn one now is a left-hander leading uphill and into an unsealed section. Race strategy may also change now the Joker is located mid-lap.

Sweden’s Kristoffersson heads up the permanent Supercar entries. He is alongside PSRX Volkswagen Sweden teammate and two-time World Champion Petter Solberg. The pair has their hands on a revised VW Polo R for 2018.

EKS Audi Sport brings an all-new Audi S1 to the start-line for Mattias Ekstrom and new signing Andreas Bakkerud. The rebranded Team Peugeot Total outfit reflects the French manufacturer’s factory commitment for 2018. Sebastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen lead its challenge.

Olsbergs MSE returns to World RX with a pair of latest specification Ford Fiestas. These are for Kevin Eriksson and Robin Larsson. GRX Taneco expands to include Timur Timerzyanov alongside Niclas Gronholm in two newly-constructed Hyundai i20 Supercars.

The World RX of Catalunya-Barcelona will also herald the much-anticipated race debut for the GC Kompetition Renault Megane RS R.X.

Developed by legendary engineering house Prodrive, the cars will be in the hands of Guerlain Chicherit and Jerome Grosset-Janin.

Kevin Hansen (Team Peugeot Total), Janis Baumanis (Team STARD) and Gregoire Demoustier (Sebastien Loeb Racing) will compete for the Drivers’ title as permanent individual entries.

As well as the 15 permanent World RX drivers, two round-by-round entries will compete in the World RX of Catalunya-Barcelona; Oliver Bennett will debut the Team XITE MINI Cooper S and Herve “Knapick” Lemonnier will race a Citroen DS3.

World RX Managing Director for IMG, Paul Bellamy commented:

“With new teams, updated cars and driver shuffles up and down the order, the stage has been set for what promises to be another fantastic season of World RX racing. Catalunya is the perfect venue to kick things off. The local fans have shown tremendous enthusiasm towards World RX ever since the Catalunya-Barcelona round was included on the calendar in 2015, and this year will surely be no different as we wait to see who will top the podium in round one. Here’s to another memorable World RX season.”

The 2018 World RX season will comprise of 12 events with the field moving from Catalunya-Barcelona to Montalegre in Portugal, Mettet in Belgium and for the first time Silverstone, which will host the World RX of Great Britain as part of the all-new Speedmachine festival on 26-27 May. From here, the series heads to familiar rounds in Norway, Sweden, Canada, France and Latvia, before the inaugural World RX of USA at the Circuit of The Americas on 29-30 September. The 2018 season wraps up with Germany and the Cape Town finale on 24-25 November.

Monster Energy Super Charge Award

The Monster Energy Super Charge Award will once more reward the driver with the fastest reaction to the starting lights in the World RX final this season. Emphasising the importance of getting off the line quicker than the competition, this coveted award from the World Championship’s presenting sponsor will serve to ramp up the tension further ahead of the crucial final.

From a Cooper Tires point of view
Paul Coates, General Manager – Motorsport, Cooper Tire Europe, said:

“Circuit de Barcelona with its fast asphalt corners and quick changes between sealed and unsealed surfaces guarantees some exciting racing and the Cooper rallycross tyre is a perfect match for this track. Over the winter all the teams have been working hard improving and upgrading the cars which will increase the acceleration, braking and lateral forces the tyres would have experienced in previous years. This first event of the season will show us just how much more performance has been gained and how one of the most important elements of the car, the Cooper rallycross tyre, meets the increased challenge.