Rallying

WRX: The 2019 Drivers

The FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy released the 2019 entry list this week and it looks to be a competitive grid.

There was doubt over the future of the championship after the three manufacturers, Peugeot, Volkswagen and Audi, pulled out at the end of last year leaving a number of drivers futures uncertain.

However, the entry list reveals 16 permanent drivers from six teams and four individual entries. The list sees many returning faces as well as a number of young guns moving up to the top tier.

A pairing that many people will be looking forward to reuniting is that of popular World RX driver Andreas Bakkerud and the flamboyant Liam Doran for new team Monster Energy RX Cartel. The pair were last teammates back in 2013 for LD Motorsports where they put together a strong campaign in the FIA European Rallycross Championship.

The Hansen brothers, Timmy and Kevin, will be returning in two Peugeot 208s under the Team Hansen MJP team, with father Kenneth, the most successful rallycross driver with 14 European Rallycross titles, as Team Principal.

 

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Image credit: FIAWorldRallycross.com

 

GRX Taneco, the team of two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm, will be returning with the same line-up as 2018 with Niclas Gronholm and Timur Timerzyanov in a pair of Hyundai i20s. Gronholm was considered the most improved driver last year and he will be looking to improve on his seventh place in 2019.

The team will also be running a third car at a number of events during the season with Reinis Nitiss, who will be the teams’ development driver.

Guerlain Chicherit competed in his first full championship in 2018 for his own team GC Kompetition, where he will be back and joined by 2017 European Rallycross Champion Anton Marklund in a pair of Meganes.

Chicherit will run a sister team with another two cars under GCK Academy, allowing two young drivers to move up to the Supercars category on the World stage. These drivers will be behind the wheel of Renault Clios and are RX2 graduate Guillaume De Ridder and European Rallycross driver, Cyril Raymond.

The last of the team entries is Team Stard, who announced their first driver as the returning Janis Baumanis who has been with the team since 2017. As of yet his teammate has not been announced.

The individual entries are those who will collect points towards the drivers’ championship but not towards the team title. The first of the individual entries to be announced was Oliver Bennett who will compete in his first full championship with the Xite Racing Mini Cooper which we saw at selected World RX and American Rallycross Championship events in 2018.

Former two-time DTM champion, Timo Scheider will be returning with ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport for a full campaign after competing in three events in 2018 with the team.

Mattias Ekstrom’s EKS Sport team will be back on the grid with Krisztian Szabo behind the wheel of the Audi S1, who competed in two European RX rounds for the team in 2018.

The current FIA European Rallycross Champion in Super 1600, Rokas Baciuska, is the final entry for the 2019 World RX and he will be the driver of a Skoda Fabia for ES Motorsport – Labas Gas.

 

2019 drivers list

Image credit: FIAWorldRallycross.com

 

Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of IMG Motorsports, the series promoter, had this to say on the announcement of the 2019 World RX Championship entries:

“What we have put together is a high quality entry list which features names synonymous with world rallycross, and a number of young guns aiming for the world championship crown. This underlines the robust nature of the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

“The entry list illustrates the lure of World RX for both teams and drivers. We have all the ingredients for a fierce battle among privateer teams seeking the kudos of a world championship in one of motorsports’ most demanding environments.

“To have 11 nationalities of drivers and eight automotive brands going head-to-head adds further spice and intrigue.”

These are the entries for the full championship, there will be extra entries at each round, the first of which will be held at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi on 5-6 April.

Feature image credit: FIAWorldRallycross.com

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