It’s that time of year again when the top Rallycross drivers in the world strap into their 600hp AWD hot hatches and prepare for the 2017 FIA World Rallycross season. With that much horsepower on tap, these vehicles are capable of smashing from 0-60mph in a mind-boggling 1.9 seconds. And when you combine that with the tight courses with varying terrains, Rallycross is one of the most exciting formats in Rally racing.
The first event is scheduled to take place in Barcelona starting this weekend on Saturday, April 1st. So we wanted to give you a breakdown on some of the top drivers, teams, and manufacturers to watch for as the season unfolds. And even though the series travels all over the world, you’ll be able to stream every race live here in the United States. It was announced yesterday that the Ford Performance Facebook page will be the exclusive live distribution channel for the 2017 season.
That’ll be perfect seeing as how everyone is on Facebook already and the wicked fast, high flying, free for all live rallycross action will be a perfect escape from the constant surfing of the news feed. Here are four of the top teams that will be battling it out over the next 12 races. And while there are other teams competing, it’s very likely that the 2017 Champions will be amongst the group listed below.
EKS RX- Audi
Mattias Ekstrom / Toomas Heikkinen
Coming off a championship win last year, Mattias Ekstrom is heavily favored to pull off a repeat performance in his killer little Audi S1. He and teammate Toomas Heikkinen put on a dominating performance behind the wheel of the Audi’s and helped take EKS RX to a team championship. Both drivers return for the 2017 and with the stellar performance and Quattro all-wheel drive systems in that S1, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
PSRX Volkswagen – Volkswagen
Johan Kristoffersson / Petter Solberg
One of the teams that will give the Audi a run for their money is the PSRX Volkswagen team consisting of drivers, Johan Kristoffersson and Peter Soldberg. Johan managed to squeak out second place in 2016 championship by just one point over the teammate Petter and Andreas Bakkerud, who ended up tied for third place as far as points go. Petter and Johan will once again be piloting the VW Polo RX and with the technical support of the Volkswagen Motorsports division and the talent of two drivers finishing in the top three, they will be tough to beat.
Hoonigan Racing Division – Ford
Ken Block / Andreas Bakkerud
If there ever was a team that has the potential to put on a dominating performance it would without a doubt be the Hoonigan Racing Division. Ken Block is one of the most talented drivers in the world. And he’s proved it both on the racetrack and various locations where he’s filmed his monumentally popular Gymkhana series that’s reached up into the hundreds of millions of views on YouTube. Unfortunately, Ken was plagued with mechanical issues for the 2016 season that prevented him from doing as well as he hoped. But his young teammate Andreas Bakkerud is talented far beyond what his age would imply, and with three wins last year he managed to finish the year tied with Petter Soldberg in third place overall. When you combine the talent and experience that Block brings to the table with the talent and youthfulness of Bakkerud, and you add in the badass Focus RS-RX that will have the kinks finally worked out on both cars, you end up with a recipe that could spell disaster for the other teams in the series.
Peugeot Hansen – Peugeot
Sebastian Loeb / Timmy Hansen
Last but surely not least is the Peugeot-Hansen team with drivers Sebastian Loeb and Timmy Hansen. Loeb made his rallycross debut in 2016 but by no means is a stranger to the sport. He’s a legend in the World Rally Championship (WRC) and is the most successful driver in the history of the WRC. From 1999 to 2015, Loeb won a total of 909 stages, 78 rally wins, and a record 9 championships. Needless to say, he knows how to push a hot hatch to its limits and well beyond. Even though it was his first year in a rallycross car, Loeb finished a respectable 5th place behind the Soldberg-Bakkerud tie. His teammate, Timmy Hansen is no slouch either. He finished right behind Loeb and apparently did very well in Canadian Rally circuit. They will be driving the Peugeot 208 WRX with sponsorship support from Redbull.
As you can see, every one of these teams has the potential of winning it all. Although there are six other teams that will be fighting for their place on the championship podium at the end of the season. It’s looking like it will be an incredibly entertaining season of Rallycross racing and we can’t wait for it to kick off this weekend. Don’t forget to go to the Ford Performance on Facebook where you will be able to watch the races live as they happen.