Rallycross realises a new era this weekend with the inaugural round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship held at Portugal’s Pista Internacional de Montalegre circuit.
The discipline has enjoyed a period of rejuvenation recently culminating in the formation of the new 2014 FIA-backed world championship.
The series, known for its extreme rally spec cars, has already grabbed the attention of manufacturers and big name drivers, including former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve and ex-World Rally Champion Petter Solberg.
Rallycross originated in Great Britain with the first ever event held at Lydden Hill in Kent in 1967.
The short race format held on circuits consisting a mix of asphalt and gravel sections rose to prominence through the 1970’s and 1980’s as Rallycross became an established form, of motorsport worldwide.
See below for an all-you-need-to-know guide on the FIA World Rallycross Championship.
The FIA World Rallycross will be contested over 12 rounds held on short circuits containing sections of asphalt and loose gravel.
Circuits often feature jumps and water splashes similar to those found in conventional rallying events.
Each event comprises of practice sessions, four qualifying heats, two semi-finals and one final.
There are four qualifying heats with a maximum of five cars starting abreast in each race over four laps.
The first two heats will be held on Saturday with the final two heats, semi-finals and final held on Sunday.
All qualifying heats will be timed and the fastest driver in each heat will be rewarded 50 points, second: 45, third: 42, fourth: 40, fifth, 39, sixth 38.
Starting positions for the first heat is determined by a random draw.
Drivers are ranked in order of points after the four qualifying heats with the top 12 receiving entry to the semi-finals.
Six cars make up each semi-final arranged in a two-by-two grid formation for a race to be held over six laps.
The winner, second and third placed finishers in each semi-final qualify for the final.
The final is contested by six cars over six laps. The semi-final winner which has accumulated the highest number of points during the event earns pole position.
The same system is used to determine the grid line up with second and third place finishers in semi-finals.
Positions one to six for the event are set by the result of the final. The remaining drivers are classified according to points scored during the event.
In each qualifying heat, semi-final and final, drivers are required to complete a Joker Lap. This means every competitor must drive one lap of the circuit using a longer alternative section of track which adds at least two seconds to the lap time.
Failure to record a Joker Lap is a 30-seconds penalty in the qualifying heats, and by being classified last and loss of points in a semi-final or final.
Supercar drivers are only eligible to compete for the World Championship.
The cars are based on production saloons and hatch back fitted with turbo charged two litre engines capable of producing 600 horse power.
A Rallycross Supercar can out accelerate an F1 car to 100km/h in just 1.9 seconds.
Popular cars include the Citroen DS3, Peugeot 208, Volkswagen Polo and the Ford Fiesta.
Drivers score championship points at three stages of the event.
The top 16 drivers after the four qualifying heats score points starting from 16 for the best placed, down to one point for 16th place
The top 12 progress to two six car semi-finals in which points from six for the winner to one for sixth place are awarded.
Scoring for the final are as follows:
1st: 8 points
2nd: 5 points
3rd: 4 points
4th: 3 points
5th: 2 points
6th: 1 Point
Maximum score in an event is 30 points (16+6+8). All points scored in all 12 rounds count for the championship.
The Teams’ Championship will include all points scored by the two team drivers at all events.
DRIVERS TO WATCH
Timur Timerzynov – Reigning European Champion – Peugeot 208
Timmy Hansen – son of multiple European champion Kenneth Hansen – Peugeot 208
Petter Solberg – Former World Rally Champion – Citroen DS3
Liam Doran – Former British Rallycross Champion – Citroen DS3
Mattias Ekstrom – Two time DTM champion – Audi S1 (competing in selected events)
Jacques Villeneuve – 1997 F1 world champion – Peugeot 208
Ken Block – Stunt driver – Ford Fiesta ST (competing in selected events)
Tanner Foust – Global Rallycross champion – Volkswagen Polo (competing in selected events)
Round 1 – Portugal – May 3-4
Round 2 – Great Britain – May 24-25
Round 3 – Norway – June 14-15
Round 4 – Finland – June 28-29
Round 5 – Sweden – July 5-6
Round 6 – Belgium – July 12-13
Round 7 – Canada – August 7-8
Round 8 – France – September 6-7
Round 9 – Germany – September 23-24
Round 10 – Italy – September 27-28
Round 11 – Turkey – October 11-12
Round 12 – Argentina – November 22-23
FIA World Rallycross Championship Video Preview
*Stay with speedcafe.com for all the latest news from the opening round