FIA World Rallycross ready for season opener in Portugal

More than 50 rallycross drivers include Jacques Villeneuve and Petter Solberg to compete

FIA World Rallycross ready for season opener in Portugal

The opening round of the all-new FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy will kick off in Portugal this weekend with more than 50 of the world’s best rallycross drivers set to battle it out across the Supercar, Super1600 and TouringCar categories and in the supporting RX Lites Cup. The lineup will also include two former World Champions as former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve and former WRC Champion Petter Solberg join the Supercar line-up.

World RX – which is promoted by IMG, the global sport, fashion and media company – is the FIA’s newest World Championship and in 2014, the race action will be broadcast in more than 100 countries with a combined household reach of 816 million homes. The Championship is made up of 12 rounds: Portugal, Great Britain, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Argentina.

Round 1, World RX of Portugal, will be based in Montalegre: a municipality in northern Portugal, located in the district of Vila Real on the border with Spain. The draw for Saturday’s first qualifying heat will be made on Friday afternoon (2 May). The second qualifying heat also takes place on Saturday with the remainder of the heats plus the semi-finals and finals to take place on Sunday (4 May).

There will be six World RX two-car teams present in Portugal including the manufacturer-backed squads of Ford-OlsbergsMSE (Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss), VW-Marklund (Topi Heikkinen and Anton Marklund) and Peugeot-Hansen (Timur Timerzyanov and Timmy Hansen). Also in Portugal and fighting for Supercar victory will be PSRX’s Petter Solberg with teammate Alex Hvaal.

“There are a lot of very good drivers in RX this year – it’s going to be tough but I will fight – I promise you!” said Solberg, who will pilot a Citroen (above). “Last year we had some problems with the car but now we have good experience of the circuits and we will come back even stronger. I want to win the title. I’ll be flat out from the start!”

Monster Energy World RX Team’s Liam Doran and Poland’s Krzysztof Skorupski will also be present in Portugal with their Citroen DS3 Supercars, with the addition of Albatec Racing’s Jacques Villeneuve and Andy Scott. Villeneuve spoke positively ahead of his World RX debut: “Rallycross is both fast and exciting. The power in the cars is unbelievable, they’re like rockets but driving is what I know – it’s what keeps me alive. The extra elements that make up rallycross are what I need to learn this year – the strategy, the close driving, the tires – that’s what’s new for me.”

Other notable entrants in Portugal include top female driver Ramona Karlsson who will be driving a Per Eklund Motorsport run Saab 93. Belgian driver Jos Jansen will also be competing, as well as Poland’s Bohdan Ludwiczak and Frenchman Alexandre Theuil. Two-time European Rallycross Champion Derek Tohill will also join the Supercar line-up in his Citroen DS3 Supercar and flying the flag for Portugal will be local favorite Joaquim Santos in a Ford Focus.

Said Martin Anayi, managing director for World RX at IMG Motorsport: “All the ingredients are now in place to make World RX the must-watch motorsport series in 2014. In Portugal, we’ve got a star-studded lineup of drivers who will also be joined by some great local drivers, which is fantastic for the home fans. It’s very positive to have so many entries at our first World RX event, and of course this will be the first ever time that we see the RX Lites in action too. The circuit is nestled in the mountains of Montalegre and creates a stunning backdrop for what is expected to be a fast and furious weekend of racing ahead. Over the past few months, a lot of hard work has been going on behind the scenes and now we can’t wait to get the season up and running.”

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