It is no exaggeration to say that the inaugural season of the RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires has been a rousing success story, and judging by the talent on show in a special Supercar Lites test in Sweden this week (24/25 September), the future of the FIA World Rallycross Championship feeder formula looks to be in very safe hands indeed.
Rallycross is one of the fastest-growing – and most TV-friendly – disciplines in motor sport, with interest skyrocketing ever since the creation of the World Championship back in 2014. With its single-make format guaranteeing a level playing field, RX2 is now widely regarded as the most relevant and direct route for drivers wishing to progress to the very pinnacle of the sport, with no shortage of standout performers amongst the 2017 pack.
The series’ profile played a key role in attracting some 36 drivers – aged between 16 and 58 – to a Supercar Lites sampler day at Strängnäs Motorstadion in Sweden, where they all had the opportunity to try out the 320bhp, four wheel-drive ‘pocket rocket’ that forms the basis of RX2’s high-octane action, with the cars run at the test by leading teams Olsbergs MSE and JC Raceteknik.
Sitting alongside them inside the cockpit were four of the brightest young rallycross prospects around – recently-crowned RX2 and GRC Lites Champion Cyril Raymond, 2015 GRC Lites Champion Oliver Eriksson, 2017 RallyX Nordic Supercar Champion Thomas Bryntesson and 2017 RallyX Nordic Lites Champion William Nilsson.
With participants drawn from more than ten different countries all around the world – from France to Italy and Greece to Australia – and a wide variety of backgrounds from karting and crosskart to folkrace and rallying, the popularity of the test day was testament to the burgeoning appeal of RX2, delighting series CEO Andreas Eriksson.
“It’s been a very interesting couple of days here in Sweden,” he acknowledged. “The drivers that took part in the test differed greatly in terms of their level of prior experience, but each of them benefitted greatly from their time spent in the Supercar Lites car. Judging by the smiles on their faces when they climbed out of the cockpit, I think it’s safe to say they all enjoyed it and they were quick to praise the characteristics and qualities of the car.
“I have always been a strong advocate of nurturing fresh talent, and what I saw at Strängnäs Motorstadion gives me a great deal of hope for the future. It was very rewarding to see the way in which they improved from the morning session to the afternoon, and I received some very encouraging feedback from our four expert driver coaches, all of whom were impressed by what they saw from the ‘next generation’ of rallycross exponents.
“For us, the #RoadToRallycross is far more than just an objective – it is our very raison d’être as we seek to discover the next Petter Solberg, Johan Kristofferson or Sébastien Loeb. Rallycross is an aspirational discipline, and we want to make the #RoadToRallycross the internationally-acknowledged path to the top of this exciting sport. Hopefully we will see some of these drivers again in the not-too-distant future – who knows, perhaps a few of them will line up on the RX2 Series grid in 2018…”