WRC ORLEN 80th Rally Poland
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ERC Delfi Rally Estonia
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Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
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Starts: Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM

Mon 29 May 2023

Battle lines drawn: World RX warriors primed for action in Portugal

The second season of the FIA World Rallycross Championship’s ground-breaking electric era will race into life at Montalegre this weekend (3-4 June), as World RX of Portugal prepares to welcome some of motorsport’s most fearless drivers and fearsome cars for a feast of electrifying edge-of-the-seat entertainment.

The second season of the FIA World Rallycross Championship’s ground-breaking electric era will race into life at Montalegre this weekend (3-4 June), as World RX of Portugal prepares to welcome some of motorsport’s most fearless drivers and fearsome cars for a feast of electrifying edge-of-the-seat entertainment.

Montalegre hosted the very first World RX event back in 2014, and the popular Portuguese circuit – nestled high up in the picturesque Vila Real mountains in the north of the country – will similarly raise the curtain on the championship’s tenth campaign, with myriad doorhandle-to-doorhandle duels in prospect in a series that blends the very best aspects of circuit racing and rallying in a captivating head-to-head format.

The first of ten rounds on the calendar between now and the middle of November features a number of intriguing plotlines. Having clinched an extraordinary fifth World Championship crown last year, Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS) is seeking a sixth title in 2023 in his Volkswagen RX1e to further stake his claim to ‘Greatest Of All Time’ status – but the Swede has a host of high-calibre rivals all determined to stop him in his tracks.

Chief amongst them is Timmy Hansen (Hansen World RX Team), the driver who has finished runner-up to Kristoffersson in each of the past two seasons – losing out in an agonising final day tiebreak in 2021. The two Swedes clashed at Montalegre last September and have engaged in countless close battles in the sport’s top tier – with many more surely in prospect over the coming months.

Hansen and his team-mate – fellow multiple event-winner and younger brother, Kevin Hansen – will take to the track in a pair of Peugeot 208 RX1es whose livery has undergone a ‘back to the future’ off-season makeover, with the addition of striking red accents in celebration of the team’s previous successes.

Niclas Grönholm has earned a bit of a ‘nearly man’ reputation in recent campaigns, finishing third in the standings in 2021 and 2022 and only being denied a proper title shot in 2019 by a bout of appendicitis. The Construction Equipment Dealer Team star triumphed in Portugal last year and the year before, so is hoping to complete the hat-trick this weekend.

The Finn’s CEDT stablemate Klara Andersson made history at Montalegre eight months ago in becoming the first female to reach the rostrum in top flight international rallycross history. Having signed off her rookie season with arguably her finest performance to-date at Germany’s Nürburgring last November, the 23-year-old Swede is aiming to build upon her impressive progress in her sophomore campaign.

Another newcomer to establish himself amongst the sport’s grandees in 2022 was Gustav Bergström, who sped to three consecutive podium finishes for Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS and is now targeting the next step. Ole Christian Veiby in the sister VW, meanwhile, has his sights solidly set on breaking his World RX duck following an accomplished comeback that yielded top three results in half of the rounds, despite suffering from more than his fair share of ill-fortune.

Four-time Free Skiing World Champion Guerlain Chicherit indulged a personal passion project last year in reviving an automotive icon – the legendary Lancia Delta Integrale – and bringing the classic Italian hot hatch right up to the present day in the shape of the retrofitted, all-electric Lancia Delta Evo-e RX, which made its World RX debut in the season finale at the Nürburgring and proved to be competitive straight off the bat.

The Frenchman is lining up two Lancias under the Special ONE Racing banner in 2023, with a second car for compatriot Sébastien Loeb, who returns following four seasons away from the grid. During his previous stint in the series, the nine-time FIA World Rally Champion achieved a brace of victories and 15 further rostrum appearances from 36 outings – the third-best podium strike rate in World RX history. Can the WRC’s record man take the fight to Kristoffersson second time around?

Completing the field in ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s SEAT Ibiza RX1e is double DTM Champion, Timo Scheider – another championship returnee and a driver with recent electric experience from Extreme E. The German – a veteran of 42 World RX starts to-date – is renowned as a tough competitor on-track, so will be sure to put up a fierce fight.

The weekend will get underway with official practice at 10:00 local time (11:00 CET) on Saturday (3 June). All of the action will be broadcast live on RX+. Monthly and annual subscriptions can be purchased here, while race weekend tickets are available to buy on the gate.

Event entry lists and the full timetable can be found here.