Images via ARX Rallycross (1, 3); FIA World Rallycross (2)
Professional rallycross returns to North America with this weekend’s Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières, which will host both FIA World Rallycross and Americas Rallycross competition on Saturday and Sunday. Get caught up on the fifth annual World RX of Canada with our guide to the most important information:
What is the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières?
The Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières (or GP3R for short) is one of the most significant racing events in all of Canada. It’s hosted a number of different series over the years, from the former American Le Mans Series and SCCA Trans-Am sports car racing to Indy Lights and the former Atlantic Championship open-wheel series. GP3R is now a two-weekend event, having expanded to hosting both the NASCAR Pinty’s Series and now the multiple rallycross series that are racing this weekend.
Who’s competing this weekend?
The FIA World Rallycross Championship stages its first North American round of 2018 this weekend, while ARX rejoins it as a support series for the remainder of the season. It’ll be the fifth time GP3R has hosted World RX of Canada, while a number of the ARX competitors will be competing here for the first time.
What have I missed in the World RX season so far?
If you’re a rallycross fan who hates when one driver or team gets well ahead of the rest of the field, we’ve got bad news for you. At the halfway point of the season, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden’s Johan Kristofferson has won five of the six rounds so far, with Sebastien Loeb’s triumph in Belgium the sole exception. Kristofferson’s 40-point lead over Andreas Bakkerud with six rounds remaining may not be insurmountable, but some other competitors—including 2016 champion Mattias Ekstrom—have already conceded the title.
On the bright side, RX2 is much closer, with three different winners and seven different podium finishers in four rounds. Points leader Oliver Eriksson, who won at Silverstone, holds only a six-point advantage over Olsbergs MSE teammate Guillaume De Ridder as RX2 contests its fifth of seven 2018 rounds at GP3R.
How about in ARX?
Halfway through the ARX season, things haven’t looked too different from previous Red Bull Global Rallycross results. Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross’ Tanner Foust and Scott Speed have split the two rounds on offer, while Liam Doran and Ken Block have each returned to competition against this group of drivers with a podium finish. Subaru Rally Team USA has adapted well to the six-car final by placing two and three cars in the first two finals of the season so far, but is still searching for its first podium.
ARX2 debuted at last month’s DirtFish ARX of COTA with Conner Martell taking the victory over Christian Brooks and Cole Keatts. The nine-car field included many previous GRC Lites drivers, as well as the rallycross debuts of Matt Carpoff at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Fraser McConnell at DirtFish Motorsports. To make up for missing the Silverstone season opener, they’ll run a doubleheader in Canada.
Are there any interesting entries to watch out for this weekend?
Sadly, not at the World RX level, where the series’ normal 15 Supercar drivers will take to the grid. But if you’re a fan of watching Formula 1 champions take on rallycross, keep an eye on ARX Supercars this weekend, as Jacques Villeneuve returns to the sport with Subaru Rally Team USA. Villeneuve ran a majority of a World RX season with Albatec Racing in 2014, and the Quebec native will partner regulars Patrik Sandell and Chris Atkinson at GP3R.
Meanwhile, the RX2 and ARX2 fields will see a pair of drivers attempt to win both series. Martell will look to go back-to-back in ARX2 while chasing his first RX2 victory of the season, while Keatts will look to build off the first podium of his rallycross career. 2016 GRC Lites champion Cabot Bigham will also make his return to the sport, stepping back from his Supercar ride in 2017 to return to a SuperCar Lites ride with DRR in ARX2.
What’s next for the two series?
After more than a month between GP3R and the most recent World RX event in Sweden, it’ll be nearly another month before the next event at France’s famous Circuit de Lohéac. But World RX will have three rounds in September, with only two weeks between that event and Latvia, and two more weeks from there to the inaugural World RX of the USA. ARX will rejoin World RX for that event, although most of its drivers (and perhaps even some World RX regulars) will also be competing the weekend before that in the inaugural Nitro Rallycross at Nitro World Games.