Mattias Ekström and his team, EKS, have to tackle fierce competition again in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. A total of 18 permanent entrants will be racing for the World RX crown this season. “The Peugeot and Ford factory teams have no doubt done their homework and the newly formed Volkswagen team with Petter Solberg and Johan Kristoffersson is going to try to make life difficult for us as well,” says double world champion Ekström. “But we’re well prepared and are going to give our all to again win both World RX titles.”
A total of twelve rounds are on this year’s calendar including two in Germany, at the Hockenheimring and at the Estering. With rounds at Trois-Rivières (Canada) and Cape Town (South Africa) the World RX will also visit venues outside of Europe twice. Particularly the premiere at the Cape of Good Hope is being awaited with eager anticipation. The race at the Killarney International Raceway on the outskirts of Cape Town has taken Argentina’s place as the venue for the season finale and boasts an impressive view of Table Mountain. In 165 countries around the world, the races will be broadcast live.
The regulations have not changed compared to last year. In 2017, the drivers are going to determine a winner in four qualifying heats, plus two semi-finals and a final at all events. Lots are drawn on the Friday of the race weekend to determine the pairings for the heats. Each session consists of several heats with up to five cars racing four laps respectively. Rather than the positions achieved, it is the times clocked that matter in these sessions. After all the qualifying heats have been completed, all drivers are listed in an overall table, receiving points in descending order for the intermediate classification. The winner of a heat receives 50 points.
These results produce the pairings for the next session – starting with the five slowest up to the great showdown with the fastest drivers in a direct comparison. Following the four qualifying heats, the results are added up. The twelve drivers with the highest point score move into the semi-final sessions where the name of the game is six drivers and six laps. Now the campaigners no longer start directly side by side as in the qualifying heats, but from an offset grid. The top three finishers in the two semi-finals progress to the final which follows the same format as the semi-finals. The driver who crosses the finish line in first place is the winner of the race weekend.
Now the time has come to do the math. The final winner is not necessarily the driver who has scored the most points because the campaigners have three opportunities to score. The top 16 from the intermediate classification following the qualifying heats receive points: position one earns 16 followed by the subsequent positions down to 16, for which one point is awarded. All semi-finalists add points to their tallies as well (6-5-4-3-2-1 each). In the final, the winner receives eight points, while the driver finishing in sixth place gets one (8-5-4-3-2-1). Consequently, a driver can score a maximum of 30 points (16+6+8) for the drivers’ classification on a race weekend.
New this year is the introduction of a video monitoring system on all circuits. As car contacts with opponents are “part of the program” in rallycross, but do not always conform to the regulations, the multi-camera system is intended to assist the race director and stewards of the meeting in the case of controversial decisions. The system provides them with live footage of the entire track which they will re-evaluate in case of doubt. The list of penalties provides for a driver who has been found guilty of three infractions within one season to be stripped of five championship points, ten for six and 15 for eight breaches, and exclusion from the championship in the case of ten infractions.