Rallycross 2019: The highs and lows

The biggest storylines from a year of great action and behind-the-scenes intrigue

Abu Dhabi World RX 2019

The 2019 season proved to be one of the best rallycross seasons in recent memory – despite what sceptics might’ve predicted going into the year.

The World Rallycross Championship thrived amid perceived turmoil, the US domestic scene grew (at first), and an all-new series arrived with a mission to right the wrongs that rallycross had been dealt in recent years.

Here are some of the key moments from the last year in rallycross.

Travis Pastrana Nitro Rallycross 2019

World RX defies critics with impressive field

With Ford, Audi, Peugeot, and Volkswagen all darting away from World Rallycross over little more than a year, there were serious doubts about the quality of the 2019 series. What was once touted as ‘the future of motorsport’ looked to be lying comatose after taking a heavy beating.

Oh how wrong we were…

Ahead of the season opener in Abu Dhabi (admittedly, not the best venue for rallycross) the series announced an impressive 16-car field packed with privateer talent.

Leading the charge were the Hansens, who returned with their factory-developed Peugeot machinery, Niclas Grönholm and the GRX team fielding WRC-derived Hyundais, and past championship winner EKS back as the RX Cartel thanks to an 11th hour deal with Monster Energy and fan favourite Andreas Bakkerud.

The 10-round season produced six different event winners – the highest number since 2016 – and the three-way title fight went right down to the wire in South Africa.

The 2019 World RX season was arguably the best yet, and it leaves us full of optimism going into 2020.

Abu Dhabi World Rallycross 2019

TitansRX arrives as a top-level alternative

Amid all of the negativity surrounding the World Championship ahead of the 2019 season, TitansRX emerged as a top-level low-cost alternative series.

The series, the brainchild of former World RX competitor Max Pucher, pitted 15 star drivers against one another in identical ‘Pantera RX6s’ – a car developed by the series that produced near-Supercar performance at a fraction of the cost.

As well as top-line rallycross drivers Topi Heikkinen, Timmy Hansen, and eventual series winner Kevin Hansen, TitansRX also managed to attract big names from other parts of the motorsport world.

World Rally stars Craig Breen and Hayden Paddon made their rallycross debuts in the field, as did sportscar aces Oliver Webb and Abbie Eaton, while ex-Formula 1 man Nelson Piquet Jr also made a brief return to rallycross in the series.

Although it was the series’ first year, the 12-round competition put on impressive races over and over again throughout the year.


Nitro thrives, but Speed’s injury casts shadow

It may have only existed for two years but Nitro Rallycross has already established itself as the undisputed crown jewel event in the rallycross calendar.

Taking place on a purpose-built course at the Utah Motorsports Campus, Nitro Rallycross is an event like no other with a largely dirt course featuring banked turns and a 100+ foot gap jump that leaps over a tabletop jump – which itself runs over a tunnel.

After watching from the sidelines as his brother Timmy triumphed in 2018, Kevin Hansen got his chance to tackle the unique course in 2019 and was untouchable all weekend.

The young Swede dominated the final, holding off countryman Patrik Sandell to claim back-to-back victories for the Hansen clan in the event.

Hansen’s win was a popular one, but the event was marred with sadness as four-time US rallycross champion Scott Speed broke his back after overshooting one of the track’s smaller jumps and landing on the flat.

The incident ended the Subaru driver’s season – and his run as the undisputed king of US rallycross. He has since gone on to recover and will be back in the car later this year.

Nitro Rallycross 2019

World RX’s incredible decider

With the first three World RX champions leaving the series ahead of the 2019 season, the crown was sure to go to a new driver for the first time since 2017.

Ahead of the season many expected either Timmy Hansen or Andreas Bakkerud to emerge victorious, and it was those two, along with Kevin Hansen, who traded the top spot over the course of the year.

After Timmy Hansen and Bakkerud collided in spectacular fashion in the season opener, handing the win and the early season advantage to Kevin Hansen, Timmy Hansen went on to win a season-high four races.

Bakkerud only won once, but a strong podium record kept him right in the fight until the end.

Much like the first race of the year, the closer in South Africa was marred with controversy as Timmy Hansen and Bakkerud came together on track.

Bakkerud emerged from the scuffle to take his sixth podium of the year (the highest of any driver), but Timmy Hansen’s performance before the final meant that his fourth place finish was enough… just.

The two drivers finished 2019 equal on points, with Timmy Hansen’s superior win record giving him a maiden world title.

Timmy Hansen wins World Rallycross Championship 2019

ARX expands… then folds

After a bit-part 2018 season, Americas Rallycross’s 2019 campaign was full of promise. There were more races, new permanent tracks – something the US had been severely lacking since… forever – and there was even a third category in ARX3, a single-make CrossKart-like series.

The 2019 ARX campaign was also the US rallycross scene’s most competitive for several years, with four different event winners, and a four-way title fight – sadly reduced to three after Scott Speed was injured in the unrelated Nitro Rallycross event. Tanner Foust ultimately held off Chris Atkinson and Patrik Sandell to win the crown.

Overall the 2019 US rallycross season was a successful one, despite declining car counts in the top-two tiers of the championship.

Then, in the weeks after the conclusion of the campaign, series organiser IMG announced that ARX would be shelved instantly, after “consultation with shareholders” – suggesting that IMG couldn’t make the series financially viable.

The highest of highs, and the lowest of lows all in one go for US rallycross. Again.

Americas Rallycross 2019