Guerlain Chicherit and Prodrive announce partnership in WorldRX

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Monster Energy athlete Guerlain Chicherit and world leading motorsport and technology business, Prodrive, proudly announce the start of their partnership to develop an all-new rallycross car for the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship (World RX).

Frenchman Chicherit, former Free Skiing World Champion, FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup winner, Dakar driver and World Record-breaking stunt driver, has made no secret of his passion for racing in World Rallycross, and whilst entering select races in 2015 and 2016 decided to build his own team, GCK, to enter the 2018 season.

The new Supercar WRX will be based on the Renault Mégane IV and will be designed from the ground up by the British motorsport specialist to the latest World RX regulations. Prodrive will design the entire car at its headquarters in Banbury, UK, including developing a bespoke two-litre turbocharged engine. The new Renault Mégane RX will be unveiled at the 2017 World Rallycross round in Lohéac, France, on 1st September 2017. Chicherit will continue to use the 2017 season to enter select rounds and begin testing of the Mégane RX in autumn 2017, ready for the 2018 season start.

While best known for rallying and circuit racing, Prodrive has recent rallycross experience having developed the MINI WRX in 2013 to compete in the Global Rallycross Championship (GRC), where it won on its debut at X Games Munich. Prodrive also develops its own engines in house and has previous experience of creating bespoke, non-production based motorsport powertrains.

David Richards, Prodrive chairman said: “It has long been an ambition of ours to compete in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. It is the fastest growing motorsport series in the world and gives us the opportunity to use all our engineering experience to create a car capable of winning the World title. Guerlain is obviously a very talented driver and we look forward to working with him and developing a race car that both he and Renault will be proud of.”

Guerlain Chicherit added: “I’m so stoked to be working with the guys from Prodrive to build what has been my dream for a long time. I know that with the right team and the support we have, we’ll be able to produce a car that will really make an impact in the paddock. I absolutely trust Prodrive to build the best car and I’m excited to bring my brand and partners to the Championship in 2018.”

Paul Bellamy, World RX managing director for IMG, commented: “It is extremely encouraging to hear that Guerlain will be entering his own team into the FIA World Rallycross Championship using Prodrive’s years of expert knowledge and experience to design the new MeganeRX. Guerlain is an extremely experienced athlete and we look forward to welcoming him and his new team to our sport full-time from next year.”

The man most in demand after Ford’s WRX exit

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Ford is backing out of World RallyX

The afternoon of October 4 2017 was pivotal for next season’s World Rallycross Championship. Within a matter of hours, Peugeot and Ford laid out their future.

In short, Peugeot is staying, Ford is not.

While uncertainty has hung over Peugeot’s rallycross future in recent months, all indications pointed towards Ford remaining in World RX. Although Ken Block’s Hoonigan Racing Division hadn’t had the second term it intended, on the back of winning three events with the Focus RS RX in 2016 and finishing third overall in both the drivers’ and teams’ championships, Block admitted to Motorsport News in August that focus had already shifted to developments for 2018.

Ford’s departure is a big shame for World RX, but the move has also thrown a curveball into the driver market. Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud, who has scored all but one of the Hoonigan squad’s 11 podiums since the start of 2016, is at the end of a two-year contract but had been expected to be retained for 2018.

However, now a free agent, the 26-year-old is one of the most desirable drivers in the paddock. It would be mightily surprising if his phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook in the last week.

Bakkerud has won with every Supercar team he has raced for in his career (LD Motorsports, OlsbergsMSE and Hoonigan) in cars with a variety of technical specifications. Assuming that Peugeot will maintain Red Bull backing, the same going for Mattias Ekstrom’s EKS squad if it continues next year, as a Monster Energy athlete an energy drink clash may play a part in Bakkerud’s next move.

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With no Ford backing, where does Bakkerud head next?

Despite a Monster link with Petter Solberg’s PSRX team, World champion Johan Kristoffersson is expected to remain with Solberg next year and even if he didn’t, Bakkerud and Solberg are hardly the best of friends. While they have been competitive in 2017, Bakkerud is unlikely to move to either MJP Racing or STARD, squads that don’t have works-support, the latter also requiring budget to obtain a seat.

There are murmurs in the paddock of potential new teams, but there is a confirmed new outfit that has the ‘correct’ energy drink ties and is in need of rallycross experience. Guerlain Chicherit’s GCK squad will campaign a pair of Prodrive-built Renault Megane Supercars next season. While Prodrive clearly knows all about creating title-winning equipment, an experienced rallycross driver who has already helped to develop cars would be a big asset.

GCK needs to learn the discipline too, and while Chicherit continues to progress as a driver, a proven winner alongside him would be a significant boost. Bakkerud and his spotter, Dave Mansfield, are just the package that GCK needs to get up to speed quickly and Bakkerud’s full-of-life outgoing personality could fit Chicherit’s bill perfectly.

World RX star Bakkerud ponders WRC2 for 2018 after Ken Block’s exit

By Hal Ridge – Autosport

World Rallycross Championship event winner Andreas Bakkerud is interested in trying the World Rally Championship’s WRC2 class after Ken Block’s Hoonigan Racing Division team’s RX exit left him drive-less.

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Bakkerud had expected to remain with Block’s Ford Performance-backed squad for a third term next year, but Hoonigan announced last month it was withdrawing from World RX.

Though 26-year-old Norwegian Bakkerud is still focused on becoming World RX champion, he is eyeing a season in WRC2 to hone his skills if he cannot find an alternative RX seat.

He has links with WRC champion team M-Sport as it built the Ford RX car.

“I’ve spoken with almost every team [in World RX], and not many of them know what they are doing next year yet,” Bakkerud told Autosport.

“We’re still in November, next season doesn’t start until April, so it’s still a little early to get anything signed or ready, but we are definitely working on it.

“I’m looking at everything, and looking at myself and what I can improve.

“For me, fighting against [Sebastien] Loeb, Petter [Solberg] and Mattias [Ekstrom] in World RX, they are not only great drivers but they are very good at setting up cars.

“I’ve actually been wondering about calling [M-Sport team principal] Malcolm Wilson to speak about doing a full season of WRC2 next year and wait for the right time for me in rallycross.

“I’m considering everything right now.”

Bakkerud sampled a Ford Fiesta R5 rally car for the first time at Castle Combe’s Rally Day in September.

“Rallying would be good because of the seat time, to help me get better on my weaker sides,” he said.

“But staying in rallycross is my main aim; I want to drive in the full world championship, but it needs to be on certain terms.

“I need to find a winning team that has the same goals and targets as me, and also be looking to electric rallycross too.”

The double European RX Super1600 champion believes he is yet to have the best car at his disposal in World RX, and had been talking about a long-term deal with Block’s Ford-supported squad before it withdrew.

“I haven’t been in a 100% winning car, yet. I think we had a very good car with OlsbergsMSE back in 2014, but I wasn’t ready,” said Bakkerud.

“Driving a lot of cars that haven’t been 100% ready, I’ve learnt a bunch and I think that’s one of my strong sides, that I can drive a car that’s not 100% to its limits very quickly.

“It’s a shame [Ford withdrew] really because I think it’s small stuff we could have done to be able to win, but we just didn’t have enough time to improve and to show it. But I think the base is very good.”

“Me and Ken were speaking about five to 10 years, we spoke about a long-term contract.

“I really want to stay in rallycross, so it was a big disappointment that I’m not going to continue with Ken Block.”