But last weekend a new era of rally-based motorsport began as the new-for-2014 World Rallycross Championship kicked off in Portugal.
Rallycross is very much like rallying, except the cars are even faster and the races arguably even more thrilling. 600hp four-wheel drive monsters duke it out around a short circuit consisting of both gravel and tarmac to see who is fastest and the most brave.
And for the new world championship’s inaugural race, it was former WRC champion Petter Solberg that emerged victorious – and my, was he thrilled.
The Rallycross formula works by racing in heats, with the fastest drivers progressing through to the final.
Other interesting factors to keep the race interesting include each car having to do a ‘joker’ lap. This is a longer lap that gives spectators a real thrill – a bit like a Scalextric circuit when it breaks into two before re-joining, you’re never quite sure which car will emerge in the lead.
It was Solberg who did, visibly elated to have taken his first World RX win.
The Swede jumped up and down on his car’s roof, denting it massively, before driving back to the pits half hanging out of the car and living up to his nickname “Hollywood”. Never one to shy away, Solberg was his typically emotional self after the race:
“I am overwhelmed, today is like a dream. I have been fighting for a victory for a long time so it is fantastic to finally get this win. It’s like winning my first ever rally again and I’m sure even my mum and dad are proud of me!”
It was a less than auspicious start for former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, however. The French-Canadian struggled, sliding off on the first corner, before a fuel pressure problem and a puncture put paid to his charge. Although we’re sure he’ll come back fighting.
Round One was in Portugal. Round Two of the World Rallycross Championship is in Britain at the home of Rallycross, Lydden Hill, Kent.
Given the amazing action you’re likely to see (600hp superminis sliding around on dirt and spitting fire, while accelerating from 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds is pretty impressive, you have to admit) a trip down to Kent for the next round on 24th and 25th May will be well worth it.
We’ll certainly be there.