The FIA has outlined its plans for grassroots off-road competition with a new CrossCar initiative.
CrossCar vehicles, also known as CrossKarts in some applications, are small motorcycle-powered, buggy-like single-seaters with impressive power-to-weight figures that are relatively cheap and easy to maintain.
The discipline has been around for several years, but since 2017 the FIA has been working with national sporting authorities (ASNs) to establish it as an organized lower level on both the autocross and rallycross pyramids, as well as in rallying.
Now it is growing that further internationally. National and regional ‘zone’ CrossCar championships will provide an affordable way into off-road racing, with a European championship providing a step up. From there, in rallycross the next step will be the upcoming junior eRX series, while on the autocross side drivers can progress to 1600cc buggies.
The FIA has laid out a low-cost ruleset for CrossCar, with complete vehicles being available to purchase from approved manufacturers for under $20,000 – without the engine.
As of June 1, five manufacturers have been approved in Europe: Planet Kart Cross and CAMONIN of France, Speed Car of Spain, Peters from the Netherlands, and LifeLive from Belgium.
There are also 10 other European manufacturers currently going through the certification process, and even more that have applied to begin the process including some from outside Europe. Certification isn’t done by the FIA, but rather by ASNs that are following guidelines set out by the governing body.
One of those manufacturers currently undergoing certification is Mygale. The Magny-Cours-based chassis builder revealed at the FIA eConference this week that it would provide complete vehicles, priced at €17,400 or $19,500 at current exchange rates, sans engine. But Mygale is also planning to provide tooling and training to allow its vehicles to be produced in volume locally by ASNs.
The tooling kits would further reduce costs at a national level, as more vehicles being built from tooling kits would lower unit cost. Tooling kits would also be eligible for an FIA grant, should the ASN request it, in a bid to push for increased adoption of the concept .
Engine-wise, three motorbike-based engines are currently homologated for use in the CrossCar European Championship: the Yamaha R6 and MT09, and the Suzuki GSX-R, all of which are subject to balance of performance with specific mapping defined by the FIA. They will produce a regulated 120bhp at senior level, and 70bhp for junior classes, with torque also strictly controlled.
According to Mygale a complete engine package, including the engine, gearbox, electronics, dashboard, and exhaust system, will cost €7900 (approximately $8855 at current exchange rates).
The FIA originally planned for the full senior European CrossCar series to begin this year but this has been pushed back to 2021, owing to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The series will be free to enter for competitors with a certified vehicle and engine package, and the entry list will be limited to 40. According to Benoît Dupont, the FIA’s off-road category manager, 36 entries had already been registered for the senior competition before the campaign was called off.
At Friday’s World Motor Sport Council meeting, the new CrossCar Academy Trophy for the junior level was announced.
Similar to the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy, the CrossCar Academy Trophy is open to 12-14 year olds, who will represent their nation through their ASN in a multi-event competition to find the next generation of off-road racing stars. One as-yet undecided manufacturer will supply all of the vehicles for the competition, with entrants ‘arriving and driving’ rather than needing to buy a CrossCar vehicles outright.
As previously announced, both junior and senior CrossCar categories will feature at the FIA Motorsport Games at Circuit Paul Ricard in 2021. As was the case with other Motorsport Games categories, competitors will apply via their ASNs to represent their country.
The FIA hopes that CrossCar will provide a low-cost option for drivers to get onto the motorsport ladder all over the world. While the initiative has already begun to establish itself across Europe, there are limitless opportunities for it to expand globally, with Mygale chairman Bertrand Decoster revealing that there has already been interest from ASNs in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.