To date, the 21st century has been an era of rapid expansion and popularity for the automotive industry in Asia, and, in particular, China.
With that, motorsport has enjoyed an increased presence in the Far East as well, but rallycross has so far failed to properly make its way there… until now.
At the end of last year the organizers of the popular China Touring Car Championship, which has been around for over a decade and attracted a number of manufacturers and international stars, announced plans for a new Chinese national rallycross championship called Xracing. There had been plans before that some years ago to start a rallycross series in China, but they failed to take off.
World championship stalwarts and Projekt E partner STARD was brought onboard as a technical partner to the Xracing project, and was tasked with developing a platform that could deliver World Rallycross Supercar-like performance but at a fraction of the cost, and be adapted by multiple manufacturers.
“Two years ago we were approached by the promoter of the series to develop a rallycross Supercar-like platform and regulation for a new Chinese rallycross-style series,” STARD CEO Michael Sakowicz tells DirtFish.
“The target was to have performance close to current World RX Supercars, but at a significantly lower cost.”
The brief required a platform that could be fitted with a range of bodyshells from subcompact cars not too dissimilar to the sort seen in World RX, right up to crossovers, the likes of which dominate highways today. So far we’ve seen cars resembling the Nissan Qashqai, Audi Q3, and China’s own MG ZS XPower in the top class of three.
Under the skin, the suspension, brakes, steering, drivetrain and electrics are all spec components, but, as with the bodywork, manufacturers can apply their own unique touches to the engine. They may use their own 2.0-litre units, but an off-the-shelf spec option is also available.
While all cars that are right now set to compete in the series are petrol-powered, the STARD platform closely resembles the one it has developed for the new all-electric Projekt E World RX support category.
“This was matching our work around the Projekt E concept very well, so we applied the same regulation for the chassis in both projects,” says Sakowicz. “This means the Projekt E chassis and the XRacing chassis follow the same technical regulation and could compete against each other at any time.”
A demonstration race for Xracing was held late last year in Xiamen in southeast China, and attracted an audience of 4000 spectators. Asia-Pacific Rally champion Lin Dewei was the winner, beating Rui Wang and Wei Lei in a MG podium sweep. Sometime Global Rallycross Lites racer and stunt driver Collete Davis also took part, driving a Nissan.
Naturally, with the COVID-19 situation, there isn’t yet a concrete calendar for a 2020 season, but there are plans to get the series underway as soon as possible.