A brand-new car could appear in the World Rallycross Championship next season as 2007 British Rallycross Champion Ollie O’Donovan’s Team RX Racing division has announced its plans to race a Proton Iriz RX in 2021.
Built in collaboration with Tony Bardy Motorsport and Mellors Elliot Motorsport, O’Donovan – who has started five World RX events before – intends to contest various World, European and British Rallycross Championship rounds in the Iriz RX Supercar.
The car is based on the Iriz R5 rally machine, which was built by MEM and has been tested by the likes of two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm and 2017 WRC2 Champion Pontus Tidemand. The RX version will, however, be a fresh build and is currently under construction ready for the 2021 season.
O’Donovan is excited to race a unique machine after feeling the Ford Fiesta he has used recently has been “getting a little long in the tooth.”
“For some time now we have been looking at where to go next,” O’Donovan said. “The easy option would have been to buy a car from the world championship, but we wanted to do something different, to stand out from the crowd.
“I’ve worked with Tony for a very long time now and he is one of the best in the business. Linking his experience of rallycross with the expertise of MEM in the cooperation we’ve put together is a hugely exciting prospect.
“There’s a huge amount of work to do before we can even think about the first roll-out, but I already can’t wait to get behind the wheel in testing, and then to race the car at some of the best rallycross circuits in the world in British, European and World Rallycross Championship events.”
O’Donovan’s chief engineer and Tony Bardy Motorsport owner Tony Bardy added that “it didn’t take us long to decide” that the Proton was the car they wanted to develop.
“The Iriz has already done lots of rallies and proved the concept, so as long as we can get comparable power from the engine to what we have now, which I’m sure we can, I see no reason why we can’t be right where we want to be,” he said.
“The quality the Iriz R5 is high, and to be involved in this new project with the Iriz RX is a breath of fresh air.”
MEM team principal Chris Mellors added: “When we built the Iriz R5 originally, we had in the back of our mind that we might like to do some rallycross, so it was a bit over-engineered in some areas from the start.
“We’re very excited, both Ollie and Tony have vast rallycross experience and it’s great to have a collaboration for this project to see what we can achieve together.
“We’ve got a lot of adjustment available and we’re going to need to make some specialist components to best suit a rallycross setup, but we’re not far away already. We’ve had some very positive rally tests recently, and we’re getting stuck into the build of the new car now.
“We like winning and that’s what we want to be doing with this project too.”
MEM’s 2021 plans with the Iriz R5 rally car are unconfirmed, but lead driver Ollie Mellors had entered this year’s British Rally Championship before it was canceled.