World RX - Hell is a heavenly venue for World RX’s 100th race

  • gb

Hell isn’t normally considered a place for celebration – but this weekend is different, as the FIA World Rallycross Championship marks its 100th race there at the World RX of Norway.

But this Hell, a village on the banks of the Trondheim Fjord and home to the picturesque Lånkebanen race track, is rather heavenly – and a fitting venue to host the World RX centenary milestone.

World RX was founded in 2014, and over the past nine years it has attracted some of the biggest stars in the sport, from Petter Solberg, Mattias Ekström, Johan Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen – all of whom went on to clinch the coveted crown – to late Gymkhana hero Ken Block, 1997 FIA Formula 1 World champion Jacques Villeneuve, nine-time FIA World Rally champion Sébastien Loeb and even multiple Olympic Games cycling gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy.

Kristoffersson and Hansen are still very much at the forefront of the fight for honours this year, driving for Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS and Hansen World RX Team respectively. The former is chasing an extraordinary sixth career title at the highest level and the latter 2019 champion is firmly focussed on stopping his compatriot in his tracks.

Loeb is similarly in the mix, after returning to rallycross this season behind the wheel of Special ONE Racing’s striking Lancia Delta Evo-e RX, a retrofitted model channelling the spirit of the legendary Lancia Delta Integrale and sporting an evocative 1980s-inspired livery.

In evidence of its commitment to fostering diversity and sustainability in the sport, World RX was delighted to welcome Klara Andersson to the fray last year, as the Swede became the first permanent female competitor since the series’ inception. Not only that, but she advanced to the final on her debut in Hell, beating (amongst others) CE Dealer Team stablemate Niclas Grönholm, a multiple event-winner.

Her reward was a long-term contract with the team, and on the basis of her impressive performance in the Montalegre curtain-raiser earlier this month, a second podium to add to her historic top three finish in Portugal last year can certainly not be ruled out.

Andersson is far from the only rapid female racer in the field in Norway. In the supporting, all-electric FIA RX2e Championship – which gets its five-round 2023 campaign underway this weekend – women make up 40% of the grid, with Extreme E front-runners Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, Cristina Gutiérrez, Catie Munnings and Laia Sanz all set to do battle for glory.

The calibre of the RX2e entry list is underscored by the fact that last season’s top three finishers – Viktor Vranckx, Isak Sjökvist and Nils Andersson – are all back in action, while World Championship heavyweights Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS and Hansen World RX Team are both running junior outfits in the series, in the shape of Team E and #YellowSquad.

In the third round of the Euro RX1 campaign, Anton Marklund will be aiming to belatedly kick-start his stuttering title defence, having been arguably the fastest driver so far this year but – for a variety of reasons – having yet to stand on the top step of the podium.

The SET Promotion ace has been out of luck in Hell recently, too – losing a breakthrough World RX victory there due a technical infringement in 2019, and then finding himself muscled out of the lead at the start of the Euro RX1 final in 2022 – so he returns seeking redemption and hoping that the old adage ‘third time’s a charm’ rings true.

In Euro RX3, finally, while Damian Litwinowicz is currently two-from-two in 2023, there are a whole host of local heroes aiming to unseat him in Norway, with Volland Racing stablemate Espen Isaksætre, Škoda star Jens Hvaal and Martin Kjær – the Cooper Tires ‘Racer of the Weekend’ at Montalegre – all poised to pounce on home soil.

So the scene is set. Last summer, World RX launched its new electric era in Hell with a sensational sporting show. Ten months on, the most spectacular and exciting cars on the planet are ready to light up Lånkebanen once more.

The weekend will get underway with official practice at 09:00 CET on Saturday (17 June), followed by the heat races, semi-finals and all-important finals.

All of the action will be broadcast live on RX+.