Leading teams from Formula 1, IndyCar and real-world rallycross have announced plans to contest this year’s iRacing Rallycross World Championship Series, which begins this weekend.
US rallycross frontrunners Andretti Autosport and Loenbro Motorsports, F1 team Williams, reigning World Rallycross Teams’ champion Team Hansen, and IndyCar’s Ed Carpenter Racing will all field teams in the Esports series, which kicks off this weekend with a round at a virtual version of Norway’s World Rallycross Championship venue, Hell.
For Andretti, it will be the multiple Indy 500-winning team’s first venture into Esports. Its line-up will comprise Beau Albert, the only Australian competing in this year’s iRX World Championship, and Vicente Salas who at 18-years-old is the youngest driver across the entire Andretti Autosport organization.
Albert and Salas will be driving a virtual representation of the Volkswagen Beetle, which has taken Andretti to five back-to-back US rallycross drivers’ titles. It was also the first car to be announced for rallycross on the iRacing platform when the discipline was added to the service in 2017.
“I’m really excited to field Beau and Vicente under the Andretti Autosport banner in the upcoming iRacing Rallycross World Championship,” said Andretti Autosport founder and CEO Michael Andretti.
“This will be the team’s first outing into Esports as an official championship entry and I’m looking forward to the new opportunities it may bring.”
Loenbro Motorsports meanwhile has tapped its real-world charger Travis PeCoy to drive one of the team’s Ford Fiesta STs alongside professional Esports and Legends car racer Garrett Lowe.
Hansen has begun its first Esports venture in a new partnership with multiple Formula 1 world champion Williams and its in-house Esports team, which will also field a two-car team of its own separate to Hansen.
“This is the beginning of a new era of Hansen Motorsport, entering professional Esports with Williams,” said Hansen Williams Esports team principal Kevin Hansen.
“It is an amazing opportunity for us, being able to enter the Esports industry through a partnership with another brand which for decades was also a family-run team winning world championships.
“Williams’ commitment to Esports, including the in-house capability and infrastructure they’ve developed, and the opportunities this gives Hansen Motorsport, is very exciting.”
The team will have Henrik Krogstad on its roster, who won the RallyX Nordic Lites and RX2 titles this year competing for Kevin Hansen’s YellowSquad team.
Krogstad will be joined by American pro sim racer and real-world sprint car driver Josh Fox. Fox finished the 2018 iRX series third overall and has 401 wins from 659 ranked iRacing Rallycross events so far.
“Having Henrik as one of the drivers in our inaugural iRacing Rallycross World Championship is a perfect way to mark what this program will all be about in the long term,” Hansen added.
“He has developed his skills with us in the real world, winning the RX2 and RallyX Nordic Lites championships with YellowSquad, so it made a lot of sense for him to be part of our virtual line up.
“It’s great to have Josh with us as well, a very experienced sim racer with great results, and his guidance and input will be extremely valuable in making sure we are competitive straight away.”
Williams Esports will compete with a separate line-up to Hansen, composed of reigning champion Sami-Matti Trogen and new signing Otto Taskinen. Trogen will miss the opening round this Saturday due to clashing commitments at the real-world Nürburgring 24 Hours race.
Subaru Motorsports USA – which has 2018 iRX champion and 2014 GRC Lites champion Mitchell DeJong plus Bobby Zalenski driving – Travis Pastrana’s Nitro Circus, supercross and motocross legend Chad Reed, and the DirtFish-backed Jim Beaver Esports team will also field two-car line-ups in the iRX World Championship.
The Jim Beaver line-up includes Jonathan Pailler who won on his World Rallycross Esports debut at a wet Höljes earlier this year.
The iRX World Championship will be run on Saturdays throughout the fall, with the final round taking place on December 5.
iRacing Rallycross World Championship calendar
September 26: Hell Lankebanen
October 10: Daytona International Speedway (long)
October 17: Atlanta Motor Speedway (long)
October 24: Iowa Speedway
October 31: Hell Lankebanen
November 7: Sonoma Raceway
November 14: Lucas Oil Raceway
November 21: Phoenix Raceway
December 5: Sonoma Raceway