A number of changes have come into effect for the third running of the FIA World Rallycross Championshippresented by Monster Energy, which gets underway in Portugal next week, as explained below.
The four timed qualifying rounds, previously known as heats, that determine each driver’s position at the Intermediate Classification of events will now be called Qualifying, to fall in line with other FIA World Championships. The four rounds will be called Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 for 2016. The names for the Intermediate Classification, semi-finals and finals will remain the same.
One new event will feature as part of the 12-round World RX schedule. The Bikernieki circuit in Latvia’s capital city, Riga, will host the 10th round of the Championship (1-2 October).
As it has for the last two seasons, the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercar will run at five of the European-based World RX events. But, World RX and Euro RX competitors will race separately in the qualifying stages of the events, adding to the existing split in the semi-finals and finals, meaning that drivers will compete directly against their closest rivals in the same championship. Euro RX will join World RX at events in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Barcelona and the new event in Latvia.
Cars competing in the FIA World Rallycross Championship will have to run an ECU and software homologated by the FIA for the first time in 2016. A number of manufacturers have homologated ECUs and software with the FIA, again falling in line with other FIA World Championships. The move allows the governing body to ensure that teams are using only homologated equipment, ruling out the potential for torque control or traction control to be used.
To improve continuity in the starting method across events and help reduce the chance of false starts, the starting system will be the same at all events and the 'Ready to Race’ board has been replaced by an illuminated ‘Ready to Race’ sign that is incorporated with the start lights. The race starter will no longer determine when the green light is switched on, instead they will simply start an automated system that will display the ‘Ready to Race’ sign for four seconds before a 1.5 second period with no lights and then a random period between zero and two seconds before the green starting light appears.
The Hoonigan Racing Division enters the World Championship as a brand new team for 2016, with a pair of Ford Focus RS RX Supercars for America’s Ken Block and Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud, built by British firm M-Sport. Nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb will race for Team Peugeot-Hansen alongside 2015 World RX runner-up Timmy Hansen. Finland’s Toomas Heikkinen has moved to Mattias Ekstrom’s EKS team and Latvia’s Reinis Nitiss will drive one of two new Seat Ibiza RX Supercars for the ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport team. Latvia’s Janis Baumanis and Russia’s Timur Timerzyanov will race for the World RX Team Austria squad while Niclas Gronholm and Kevin Eriksson have joined OlsbergsMSE. 2015 teams Marklund Motorsport and Volkswagen Team Sweden have amalgamated to form Volkswagen RX Sweden, with drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Anton Marklund. Britain’s Liam Doran has joined British team JRM Racing to race a Mini RX as an individual entry for this season.