The FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy is living up to its reputation as the FIA's fastest growing motorsport series after attracting the biggest Supercar line-up of the season for this weekend's Red Kiwi World RX of Germany.
With a record-breaking 41 Supercars representing eleven different marques and 17 nationalities across Supercar, TouringCar and Super1600, the German event will boast a truly international flavour as the FIA series hits the shortest circuit of the season at Estering. Despite its 952-metre length, the venue also features top speeds of up to 150mph on the back straight, making Germany RX one of the fastest events this year.
On the back of two consecutive World RX wins, championship leader Petter Solberg is eager to extend his advantage but admitted the difficult nature of Estering could prove troublesome.
“Estering is a tricky circuit,” the Norwegian, who drives a Citroen DS3 Supercar for PSRX, confirmed, “There are two key things to getting a good race here. The first is to get through the first corner safely. I remember from racing here before, there was a lot of action in that first corner. The second big thing is to pick the right time for the joker lap and then get it absolutely right. I think the joker is more important here than at most circuits.”
Twenty-eight points behind Solberg and second in the standings is Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Reinis Nitiss. Since the previous round in Loheac, Nitiss has returned to Latvia where he has taken part in PR activities including a lawn mower racing competition – which the 18-year-old went on to win.
“A good racing driver must be able to adapt to circumstances and different techniques, as well as to maintain a cool head,” explained the teen, who will have to fend off a challenge from Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport's Topi Heikkinen, who sits ten points further back.
The Finn has been a solid points-scorer so far this season and is feeling confident that prior testing at Estering could give his team an edge over the others. Joining Heikkinen for Volkswagen's home event in the Polo RX Supercar will be regular team-mate Anton Marklund and wildcard entrant Ronny C Rock, who holds the Guinness World Record for drift reverse parking.
“We are very happy to have Ronny on board,” explained team principal Jan Marklund. “His driving skills and famous stunts speak for themselves, and there are no questions over his talent. We are really looking forward to watching him race in World RX.”
After three podium finishes in three events, Team Peugeot-Hansen will be aiming for four-in-a-row when the Swedish-based squad travel to Germany this weekend. Timmy Hansen, however, admits that he is hungry to do one better and stand on the podium's top step.
“We want to win a race before the season is finished, that's all I can think about right now,” the 21-year old Swede conceded, “It was very special to step onto the podium in Belgium and France. Finally stepping up on the podium was amazing and very emotional for all of us. Now we have done it three times in a row and we're all very hungry for the next step.”
Female rally driver Ramona Karlsson will replace Jacques Villeneuve in the Albatec Racing Peugeot 208 Supercar this weekend and is feeling buoyed following a successful test at Knockhill race circuit earlier this week. Karlsson will be partnered in Germany with Albatec team owner, Andy Scott before former F1 world champion Villeneuve returns to World RX for round ten at Franciacorta next weekend (27-28 September).
One of the biggest stars to compete at Estering will be Team EKS RX driver and founder, Mattias Ekstrom, who returns to World RX for the first time since his spectacular victory at Holjes back in July. The two-time DTM champion completed two days testing in the Audi S1 Quattro and states his ultimate aim in Germany is to reach the final.
“It's always nice to be back in World RX and, of course, it will be exciting to be racing in Germany too, as it's a country I know well,” explained Esktrom, “It will be interesting to see if many of my DTM fans come to Estering – there aren't so many race tracks close to Hamburg, so I haven't raced in this part of Germany before, but I'm really looking forward to it.”
Monster Energy World RX Team will also be present in Germany with team drivers Henning Solberg and Davy Jeanney. The talented duo will be eager to follow in the footsteps of Monster Energy athlete Ken Block who secured a top five position at the most recent World RX round in Loheac.
As Germany forms the penultimate round of Euro RX, competition is expected to intensify among the Supercar entries that are eligible to score European points. Top of the table is Sweden's Robin Larsson, who set the cat among the pigeons earlier this season by taking second overall at World RX of Great Britain. He is currently leading the series by 36 points, two points ahead of Henning Solberg. Two-time snowcross world champion Emil Ohman is third in the standings with a total of 31 points. Former WRC driver PG Andersson will make his debut in Euro RX this weekend at the wheel of a Hedstroms Motorsport prepared Skoda Fabia.
“These next two weeks could prove crucial in the fight for the 2014 drivers' and manufacturers' championships,” World RX managing director Martin Anayi concluded, “With two events less than a week apart, the pressure is on the teams, the drivers and the cars to perform to the highest level - the smallest mistake could prove detrimental in the title chase. What makes the task even more tricky is that Estering is one of the fastest and most technical circuits of the year, and Italy which follows is a brand new track which everyone will have to learn very quickly.
“With huge grids at both Estering and Franciacorta, the competition is set to be fierce in both World RX and Euro RX. The perfect start will be key to success when such big numbers of entries are involved. I am delighted that we have our 100th Supercar entered in World RX this season and, of course, it's an honour that the man driving this centenary car is experienced rally driver PG Andersson. Best of luck to PG on his debut and all of the other Supercar, Super1600 and TouringCar competitors in what will be a flat-out fortnight of World RX action.”