Alex Kersten 5 years ago 1
Blog

Why The FIA World Rallycross Championship Kicks F1's Ass

After a recent invite to a Rallycross shake-down day at Lydden Hill, I realised just how stale F1 viewing is these days

Remind me later
Ford Fiesta ST Rallycross Car I'll admit that I haven't watched a single F1 race this season. There's something about the sport's glorified drivers that I don't like, plus the fact that the new and incredibly advanced F1 cars sound like (in Sebastian Vettel's own words) "s**t." For me, enjoyable motorsport is about bumper-to-bumper racing, panel damage and getting to know the drivers behind the helmet, not the other way around like in F1. That's why I prefer watching the BTCC series, where real cars get scarred and punted off the track, but keep on driving regardless. Picture 12 It's why I'm a new convert to Rallycross (something I've only really appreciated recently), where you'll find real cars, huge power figures and rough and ready drivers who aren't afraid to break a fingernail mid corner. Picture 11 But these aren't the only reasons why I've become a fan. I also love the fact that FIA World Rallycross cars like the Ford Fiesta produce an enormous 550bhp and 590lb/ft torque from just 2.0 litres. In cars that weigh no more than 1300kg with their driver and thanks to a massive turbocharger, the jacked-up racers hit 60mph in little over two seconds. That's enough to embarrass an Ariel Atom 3.5R if they were to go head to head in a straight line. The same can be said of a current F1 car. Ford Fiesta Rallycross racing is also far more entertaining to watch than F1. Because Rallycross cars tackle gravel and tarmac in one race, their suspension needs to be up to task - soft enough to hoon on gravel and firm enough to take a bend on the black stuff. To achieve this, cars like the Fiesta come fitted with Öhlins TTX four-way adjustable suspension and Eibach custom springs, which enable these cars to master all terrains at incredible speeds. It also means that they corner on their door handles when the grip is there. Ford Fiesta Rallycross has also attracted an impressive line-up of world-class drivers. Included on the list are former WRC champion Petter Solberg, former F1 and NASCAR driver Jacques Villeneuve and reigning BTCC champion Andy Jordan who's fighting for this year's Rallycross title at the helm of the Ford Fiesta Supercar. Tanner Foust (the bloke from Top Gear US) is another wild card entry and winner of two Euro RX rounds. If guys like this are behind Rallycross, then count me in too. But don't go thinking that Rallycross is going the same way as F1. Drivers are approachable and real and not too precious to give normal guys like me a passenger ride.
The calm before the storm. I sit next to Fiesta RX driver Andreas Bakkerud
The calm before the storm. I sit next to Fiesta RX driver Andreas Bakkerud
My driver - double European Rallycross event winner, Andreas Bakkerud - who hoons a Fiesta RX for a living might be young, but his huge balls and incredible skill behind the wheel blew me away. That, and the fact that 500+hp in a small car mixed with an ear shattering sequential 'box make your whole body hurt. From the outside, Rallycross cars sound incredible too. They spit flames, they gargle and they pop on the overrun. Picture 10 On loose gravel, the cars powerslide around corners, kicking up stones and damaging body panels. These are seriously cool race cars, which are also driven by seriously cool guys. These are just a few of the reasons why Rallycross gets my thumbs up as a viewer. There's automotive bloodshed, noise, dirt and none of the political BS you get with F1. Sure, the cars are crude in comparison, but they're relatable, achievable and in no way precious. lydden-circuit-test-1 The next FIA Rallycross Championship race takes place at Lydden Hill (1170m long; 10 metres wide; 60 per cent asphalt and 40 per cent dirt) from 24-25 May. If any of this has inspired you to stop by, then I'll see you there.