Round four of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy takes place over the Bank Holiday in Great Britain this weekend (28-29 May) as the World Championship returns to Lydden Hill in Kent. A total of 63 cars have entered (24 Supercars, 29 Super1600 cars and 10 RX Lites) and this year’s line-up includes six British drivers such as multiple X Games medallist Liam Doran and double British Rally Champion, Guy Wilks.
Lydden Hill race circuit shot to international fame when World RX was featured on the final television episode of BBC Top Gear in 2015, which saw James May go head-to-head with rallycross regulars including Petter Solberg and Timmy Hansen. Jeremy Clarkson announced he thought the sport was “brilliant” and James May declared rallycross was “pound for pound the most exciting sport in the world.”
After three World RX rounds, it’s Sweden’s Mattias Ekstrom who leads the overall drivers’ standings for EKS RX following back-to-back victories at Hockenheim and Belgium. Ekstrom will also be eager to take a hat-trick of wins after reigning Champion Solberg pipped him to the Lydden Hill victory by a mere three tenths of a second last year.
Alongside the 17 permanent World RX drivers (including star names Sebastien Loeb and Ken Block), there will also be two wildcard entries for Lydden Hill: Tanner Foust and Guy Wilks. US-based Top Gear presenter Foust, the only American to have won a World RX round, will join the Volkswagen RX Sweden team at Lydden Hill, a circuit where he has twice won European Rallycross Championship events in the past.
Former WRC driver Guy Wilks will return to the driving seat in an Olsbergs MSE-run Fiesta Supercar, a 600bhp four-wheel-drive machine which is faster off the line than a Formula One car. Wilks reached last year’s final at Lydden Hill on his RX debut but was denied a podium spot due to a puncture.
“I’m massively looking forward to getting back behind the wheel at Lydden. To get another chance to show what I can do will be a great opportunity and racing on the track is where I want to be,” explained Wilks, who is a regular commentator for the official World RX TV show alongside Andrew Coley. “After commentating at two World RX rounds this year, I’m very aware that this is a World Championship with some serious competition – I’ll need to bring my A game to Kent if I want to reach the top!”
Five-time MSA British Rallycross Champion Julian Godfrey will also fly the flag for home drivers at the event, having recently won the fourth round of the national British Rallycross series. Former British Junior Rallycross Champion Kevin Hansen will return to one of the circuits he is most familiar with in the World RX calendar, driving for the Peugeot Hansen Academy team alongside Frenchman Davy Jeanney.
As well as 24 Supercars, Lydden Hill will also mark the return of the Super1600 support category where there will be a total of 29 front-wheel-drive S1600 cars entered. The six-round series is currently led by Portugal’s Mario Barbosa who was top points scorer in the season-opener in Montalegre.
The single-make RX Lites Cup will also compete at Lydden Hill and this year’s line-up includes current British Rallycross leader Dan Rooke who will make his RX Lites debut alongside UAE driver, Saeed Bintouq.
Paul Bellamy, World RX Managing Director for IMG, commented: “Round four of the exciting World RX season moves to Lydden Hill – a track familiar with a lot of the drivers. If the last three rounds are anything to go by, we are in for a very exciting weekend as the race for the World Championship heats up. Fans will also be able to watch six local drivers including Liam Doran, Guy Wilks and Julian Godfrey who will battle it out in the headline World Championship category. Craig Lomax and Philip Chicken will both compete in Super1600 and last year’s RX Talent Search finalist Dan Rooke will make his RX Lites Cup debut. For the British fans who are unable to attend Lydden Hill, they can tune into Quest on TV to watch all the action at 415pm on Sunday [29th May].”
From a Cooper Tire point of view.
Paul Coates, General Manager – Motorsport, Cooper Tire Europe added: “Much of the development of our dry and wet World RX tyres was carried out at Lydden Hill. This circuit really shows you what rallycross is about. The quick changes from tarmac to gravel combined with high speeds provide some great action but can result in high wear and the teams have to manage their tyres carefully. In 2015, the differences in car set-ups could clearly be seen to affect the wear rates for particular drivers with some having excessive wear while others returned to the paddock with virtually no visible wear at all. With the event dates now much later in May, rather than Easter, we would expect higher track temperatures and as a result better tyre management will be required by the drivers.”