Peugeot Sport has announced that they are going to pull out of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the end of the year.
The French manufacturer has been active in the Rallycross sport through many seasons, in the shape of Team Peugeot Hansen, but chose to ramp up their programme in 2018 with a fully works team.
That leaves brothers Kevin and Timmy Hansen plus Sebastien Loeb without a works car to drive, and they will have to look for different opportunities. Kevin and Timmy are lucky enough to have their dad, the former European Rallycross Champion Kenneth Hansen, who was the man behind Team Peugeot Hansen, so they will probably find something to drive, as long as he can find the sponsors to continue. Loeb has his own Rallycross team, where Gregoire Demoustier has been driving throughout the 2018 season, in a ORECA build Peugeot 208, which is different than the works cars. So if he still has interest in the sport, he surely can order an extra car for his own use.
Audi Sport announced earlier this year, that they would pull out from the sport as a works team, when the season finale in South Africa has been run. That makes the continuation of the EKS team doubtful, in case Mattias Ekström can’t find some sponsors.
Both Peugeot and Audi entered the sport as works teams, since the World RX organizers IMG has proclaimed that there would be electric Rallycross from 2020 onwards, so they would enter to collect knowledge about the sport beforehand. FIA announced earlier this year, that the new Rallycross series would be with the exact same cars, with each constructor making the drive train themselves, but buying everything else. It was all silence from the teams after that announcement, but there surely was a lot of communication behind closed doors.
Ford announced their departure from the series after the 2017 season.
Audi Sport were the first to announce their retirement from the sport earlier this year, and now Peugeot Sport. Peugeot were very direct in their message, stating that it’s down to the lack of direction regarding the electric rules, and they have lost patience.
The FIA World Rallycross Championship organizers have been very busy expanding the sport to the whole world, and go for more and more non-permanent Rallycross circuits like the Formula 1 tracks Hockenheim, Circuit de Catalunya, Circuit Of The Americas, as well as being joined by Abu Dhabi in the coming season. That makes the travel bills bigger for the teams, which was clear indication on the number of participants throughout the 2018 season, where only 15 full season teams has been entered, and it’s only been these who has travelled the whole world.
Our humble opinion is that the World RX organizers IMG has been too busy expanding the series, forgetting that the sport originates from Europe, and especially the classic tracks in the Nordics, which has been used for the last 50 years. Of course, races outside Europe is needed to make it a World Championship, but it’s very costly for the small privateers, who has an uphill struggle anyway, not being able to keep up with the fast evolution of the cars, and the huge budgets.
The FIA announced prior to the 2018 season, that the teams would only be allowed one aerodynamic configuration of the car, where the cars in previous seasons had track specific wings on the cars. That has stopped the development slightly, but the works teams still has a huge advantage with all the engineers, and the advanced Launch Control systems on the car. They have engineers measuring the grip levels of the tarmac before the runs, putting those values into the Launch Control, to make the best possible start.
With just one official works team left in the series, in the shape of Volkswagen – remember, GC Kompetition is just a privateer with their Renault Megane RS – the status of being a World Championship is hanging by a thread, like we saw it with the World Touring Car Championship, which has been downgraded to a Cup only.
The organizers behind World RX, IMG, has been silent since today’s announcement.
This year’s final in the FIA World Rallycross Championship will be run on 24 – 25 November in South Africa.