Audi may have pulled out of the endurance racing, but it’s not calling it quits on motorsports entirely. It still competes in DTM, and keeps upping its involvement in Formula E. And now it’s jumping into the FIA World Rallycross Championship.
Now if you’re thinking that Audi was already represented in World RX (as it’s known in short), you’re right: longtime Audi factory driver Mattias Ekström fields the Audi S1 EKS RX Quattro in the newfangled series – but he’s done so until now under his own banner, without direct factory support.
That didn’t stop the former DTM champ from winning both the drivers’ and teams’ championships last season. So just imagine what he’ll be able to do with the full force of Audi Sport behind him – particularly in further developing the S1.
“We realize that it’s going to be increasingly difficult for EKS to hold its own against the factory teams,” said Audi’s newly appointed racing chief Dieter Gass, “so we chose to intensify our World RX commitment.”
The intensified program will pit Audi directly against its own sister/parent company Volkswagen, as well as privateer teams running their own cars (including Seats) and factory-backed efforts from Ford and Peugeot.
Where the rival Global RallyCross series competes entirely within the United States, the World Rallycross Championship holds most of its races in Europe – with additional rounds in Canada and Argentina. That makes it the premier rallycross series, attracting big names from an array of motorsport disciplines – including former F1 drivers Nelson Piquet and Jacques Villeneuve, rally aces like Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg, DTM champs Ekstrom and Timo Scheider, and American showmen Tanner Foust and Ken Block.
The drivers compete in a dozen two-day events on mixed surfaces, including asphalt, gravel, and dirt, sliding their way to the finish line in a spectacle that’s quickly gaining traction in popularity among fans, drivers, and automakers alike.