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Tue 18 Jul 2023

Rallycross’ electrifying new era set for British debut

Lydden Hill – the legendary ‘Birthplace of Rallycross’ – is ready to welcome World RX for the first time in six years this weekend (22-23 July)...

On 4 February, 1967, rallycross was born at Lydden Hill. Over the intervening half-century, many great drivers have tested their mettle in the dual-surface discipline – and this weekend (22-23 July), the modern-day maestros are set to thrill fans in Kent, as the FIA World Rallycross Championship returns to its spiritual home for the first time in six years.

Tucked away in the ‘Garden of England’, Lydden Hill initially featured on the World RX calendar from 2014 to 2017. During that period, some of the biggest heroes in the sport – Petter Solberg, Mattias Ekström and Andreas Bakkerud – triumphed at the track.

Now, somebody else is poised to add their name to that illustrious roll call, as the championship’s latest-generation, 500kW (680bhp) all-electric beasts – capable of sprinting to 60mph from a standing start in an eye-watering 1.9 seconds – are let off the leash in Britain for the very first time.

Johan Kristoffersson leads the charge, as he seeks to embellish his extraordinary CV with a sixth career crown. Three from three so far in 2023, the Swede – who competes for Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS – has not offered his rivals so much as a crumb for comfort, and he arrives on British shores holding a 27-point margin over his closest pursuer at the summit of the standings.

Timmy Hansen – the driver who has pushed Kristofferson hardest over the past few years – will be fired-up to maintain his momentum off the back of his first podium finish of the campaign at Höljes earlier this month. Younger brother and Hansen World RX Team stablemate Kevin Hansen, meanwhile, has a particular affinity with Lydden Hill, having participated in his first proper rallycross test at the circuit in a Suzuki Swift at the age of 13.

“It’s the home of rallycross and personally, I’ve had a lot of great memories there,” revealed the Swede, now 25. “I essentially began my rallycross career at the track and won there in both Swifts and RX Lites, so for me, it’s great to be back.”

Since Hansen last raced at Lydden, a fair bit has changed, of course. Turn One is now banked and considerably wider than it used to be – encouraging more side-by-side battles and overtakes – and incorporates a jump on the exit, just after the merge with the all-new joker.

Three drivers with more recent experience of the circuit than most are CE Dealer Team duo Niclas Grönholm and Klara Andersson, as well as Kristoffersson’s team-mate, Ole Christian Veiby. Andersson won on her debut there in an RX150 buggy in April as part of the British Rallycross Championship curtain-raiser, while Grönholm reacclimatised himself with the track last year as Veiby discovered it for the first time.

Someone who needs no introduction is motorsport legend, Sébastien Loeb. Nine times an FIA World Rally Champion, the Frenchman is back in action in World RX this season for the first time since 2018 – and the car he is driving, the Lancia Delta Evo-e RX, pays homage to one of the most iconic machines in WRC history.

Loeb is joined at Special ONE Racing by team-mate and compatriot Guerlain Chicherit – a man who made history ten years ago when he famously performed the world’s first unassisted, 360-degree backflip in a car in the French Alps – while for all his wealth of experience in the sport, double DTM Champion Timo Scheider (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport) has never previously competed at Lydden.

There is, finally, a new addition to the field in the shape of Sondre Evjen, who replaces Gustav Bergström at Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS. The highly-rated Norwegian was an event-winner in the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s top-tier Euro RX1 in 2022.

All of the action weekend-long will be broadcast live on RX+. Monthly and annual subscriptions can be purchased here, while race weekend tickets are available to buy here.

Entry lists and the full event timetable can be found here.