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Rallycross: (World RX, Nitro RX & More)


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SUBARU are the equivalent of the Hansens in that they're not 100% factory but they may as well be.

I'd say the WRX would do well in World RX and they certainly have the drivers, but being based in the US they'll never regularly fly over to Europe.

 

On a related note, I watched the Nitro RX stream last night, and I have even more appreciation for WRX's tight 1 hour broadcast now.

NRX was a 4 hour show, and while some of the races were great there was so much dead air and it dragged the whole viewing experience down.

 

I think for the next one I'll just wait for the final race to be uploaded and watch that instead.

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19 hours ago, SaltyEnferno said:

Here's a quick question for you all, which of the current Supercars do you think is the fastest? For me, its probably the Subarus and that's solely because they're the last remaining factory effort left in the game. The latest iteration of the WRXs have fender vents, more rear travel, and some better front aero as well which is evidence of their continued evolutions. I just don't think the other teams have the resources to compete in terms of continued developments. Although, I do think the VW Motorsports Polo probably has the edge on drivability and it has the widest operating window for conditions.

Very hard to say. I am inclined to agree with you and say the Subaru as the only direct (recent-ish) comparison we have (in Canada) suggested the Subaru was faster...

...however, I'd like to see the WRX STI on a European track or two for a true comparison. I think the longer wheelbase might have favoured the Subaru on the tracks we have seen. 

The later evolution Peugeot Sport 208 was fast from the outset, but not consistent. Although I daresay development has been a bit slower in the hands of the Hansens, now those cars seem to be reliable they are formidable. 

I personally thought the rest of the field had caught up with the VW Motorsport Polo in 2018, but the reliability of the Polo (and consistency of Johan) has kept it on top. 

19 hours ago, SaltyEnferno said:

(I swear if in Launch Control I hear Lance going "we're a SMALL team going up against the biggest companies in the world" again....)

Haha, yeah! Easily the biggest team in rallycross and US rally now. 

47 minutes ago, PJTierney said:

SUBARU are the equivalent of the Hansens in that they're not 100% factory but they may as well be.

I personally disagree with this. Vermont are backed and funded by Subaru, that makes them a works team to me.

The Hansens have the ex-Peugeot Sport cars, but are not funded nor supported by Peugeot. They are privateers, much like JC Raceteknik, who are running the ex-Audi Sport S1's. 

47 minutes ago, PJTierney said:

On a related note, I watched the Nitro RX stream last night, and I have even more appreciation for WRX's tight 1 hour broadcast now.

NRX was a 4 hour show, and while some of the races were great there was so much dead air and it dragged the whole viewing experience down.

Agreed. I struggled with the livestream Friday night as it was freezing and almost unwatchable at times. Waited until Saturday morning and watched the complete broadcast (with no adverts) and it was much better. Given that, I skipped the livestream last night and watched the shortened race program this morning. 

So I had issue with the gap jump before the weekend (primarily because of the safety aspect and because I think it adds nothing to the racing) but, after watching the race day, I am even more sceptical about how sustainable this series is. 

In my personal opinion a series where just driving round the track causes so much damage to the cars, there is surely going to be limited long term appeal, especially to smaller privateer teams (and this something that was a major issue for X-Games/GRC)

Sure most of teams won't mind doing this to their cars for one weekend a year, but five events of this nature is going to absolutely hammer these cars (and the team budgets). As a spectator I personally want to see cars racing for wins, not taking victory through attrition. I appreciate that the rest of the tracks might not have quite as many big jumps though. 

Not going to make any sweeping statements at this point but, based on the first race weekend, I still favour WRX (even in its current state) over NRX. 

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I think the question is whether a team is operational partner or a customer, e.g Chip Ganassi Racing ran the GTLM factory program for Ford in IMSA, it was a factory team under the CGR banner. Manthey Racing or Frikadelli Racing are long-time Porsche customer teams but they are factory backed. They get technical support and Porsche sends factory drivers to help them because if their cars win races it helps the Porsche brand, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're factory teams. Same thing with AF Corse and Ferrari. 

 

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2 hours ago, PJTierney said:

SUBARU are the equivalent of the Hansens in that they're not 100% factory but they may as well be.

I disagree, in this episode of Launch Control the narrator actually mentions that they're the largest motorsports program left for Subaru globally. Vermont Sportscar is the technical partner the same way Prodrive was the partner for the Subaru World Rally Team. This to me is 100% factory team.

Quote

"The American rally and Rallycross initiative is Subaru's largest motorsports program in the world."

I also remember Lance directly saying that their program is the largest investment Subaru has in motorsports right now as well, but I don't know the episode it was in. 

 

1 hour ago, tbtstt said:

So I had issue with the gap jump before the weekend (primarily because of the safety aspect and because I think it adds nothing to the racing) but, after watching the race day, I am even more sceptical about how sustainable this series is. 

In my personal opinion a series where just driving round the track causes so much damage to the cars, there is surely going to be limited long term appeal, especially to smaller privateer teams (and this something that was a major issue for X-Games/GRC)

Sure most of teams won't mind doing this to their cars for one weekend a year, but five events of this nature is going to absolutely hammer these cars (and the team budgets). As a spectator I personally want to see cars racing for wins, not taking victory through attrition. I appreciate that the rest of the tracks might not have quite as many big jumps though. 

During the stream I thought the racing was interesting but looking back on the next day I do think a lot of that is because of the much larger grids we have here, and the length of the races as the track is larger but caps out at 6 laps, meaning we still get longer race times. I think if Quali heats in World RX were 6 laps and the Semis/Finals were 8 laps it would allow the cars to spread out a little bit more there the way they do in NRX. Given how tight a lot of the newer World RX tracks can be, it doesn't leave room for passing opportunities most of the time (see the awful racing in COTA RX).

Interesting to note though is that the drivers seem to universally have more fun driving on at least the course in Utah. But driver interest and enjoyment doesn't necessarily make for a sustainable series. 

37 minutes ago, ricxxV2 said:

I think the question is whether a team is operational partner or a customer, e.g Chip Ganassi Racing ran the GTLM factory program for Ford in IMSA, it was a factory team under the CGR banner. Manthey Racing or Frikadelli Racing are long-time Porsche customer teams but they are factory backed. They get technical support and Porsche sends factory drivers to help them because if their cars win races it helps the Porsche brand, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're factory teams. Same thing with AF Corse and Ferrari. 

From Vermont Sportscar's website:

Quote

"Since 2005 Vermont SportsCar has been the technical partner to Subaru of America and has spearheaded the Subaru brand’s highly successful motorsports programs in the USA, now under the guise of Subaru Motorsports USA (formerly Subaru Rally Team USA)."

So 100% factory team the way Subaru World Rally Team was the factory effort when Prodrive was their technical partner.

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Thanks guys.

So they have even fewer excuses then.

 

As for the jump, I liked it for one main reason: It allowed drivers to come in super fast into the banked hairpin.

On a hotlap it's slower but in a pack that's a bit of an advantage.

 

The track clearly wasn't suitable for the support classes though, far too large. 

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54 minutes ago, SaltyEnferno said:

I think if Quali heats in World RX were 6 laps and the Semis/Finals were 8 laps it would allow the cars to spread out a little bit more there the way they do in NRX. 

 

Yeah, but that is one of the reasons NRX is not proper rallycross. If you don't have enough cars make the heats longer is a bad idea.

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And that dust - everywhere - has been a real "show" killer. I mean, 6 of the 10 guys in Final have not been able to compete fairly due to the dust of the 4th first. 

I know dust is part of the rallycross, but it can also be killer at the same time. Reminds me the first round of Extreme E where everything was finished after the first corner because of the dust. 

To avoid that in the French championship, they usually put a bit of water on the ground to keep the dust a bit heavier. 

I know many will say that is part of the rallycross and you have to do a great start to avoid it but, it was, in my opinion, too much there.

I may say this also because the Hansen's family won. :classic_ninja:

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3 hours ago, James__McAdam said:

To avoid that in the French championship, they usually put a bit of water on the ground to keep the dust a bit heavier. 

I know many will say that is part of the rallycross and you have to do a great start to avoid it but, it was, in my opinion, too much there.

I agree with you. Given the nature of the circuit I think consideration when grading the track and the use of Dustex is vital. 

Dust is (and should be) a factor in rallycross, but not to the extent that it ruins the racing and spectator experience. Half the action was missed in the final yesterday and I know you could say that is the fault of the TV crew, but how can they capture the action if they can't see it through the dust? 

Oddly a comment on FB (from a reputable source) said they only started preparing the track on Wednesday. Can't figure out why, after a year of planning the series, they left the circuit prep so late?  

3 hours ago, James__McAdam said:

I may say this also because the Hansen's family won. :classic_ninja:

Yeah, this is also true! 😄 Gutted for Oliver Eriksson in the final, as he was definitely gaining... but then he rolled.
 

1 hour ago, PJTierney said:

Couple of nice ones in there. As ever though, Qba is the man to beat:

https://www.facebook.com/qnigan 

The old ERC24 guys are still the best out there in my personal opinion.

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The main issue for me is the flow of the broadcast. The dust is a pain but should be better at other circuits since they were practically in a desert for this one.

If you look at a WRX broadcast now (on Finals Day) it's:

  • 5 minute intro
  • 15 minutes RX Semi 1 (prep, grid lineup, post-race etc.)
  • 15 minutes RX Semi 2
  • 10 minutes support series race (either ERX final or RX2e final)
  • 15 minutes RX final + Podium

4 good races in a 1 hour broadcast.

 

NRX had enormous gaps between its races, and then blew 20 minutes on some stretch cars doing donuts in a car park (which was fun to look at but not really contributing to the show a whole lot).

There's also the frequent ad breaks but that's because this was on American television so to be expected.

 

It felt like the NRX show took twice as long to do half as much, and such a long time commitment isn't something I as a fan would be interested in.

Heck I don't even watch F1 for over 2 hours.

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Yep, exactly @PJTierney. I daresay NRX is a victim of its own hype; it certainly wasn't awful, but after months of build up (and a multitude of people declaring "WRX is dead"), I wasn't that captivated by NRX. 

Keen to see how the rest of the season pans out though, for me the ultimate test of NRX is whether it is still here in a year or two. If every weekend is like this one I can see teams losing interest (and budget) quickly.

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I think it'll hang about purely because the US doesn't have a rallycross scene without it, but I don't see it being a long-term competitor to World RX.

In an ideal world WRX would have these races and cars on its calendar and Coley in the comms box 😄 

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1 hour ago, PJTierney said:

I think it'll hang about purely because the US doesn't have a rallycross scene without it, but I don't see it being a long-term competitor to World RX.

Yeah. There was quite a bit of pre-event talk of this being the foundation of a more stable (and sustainable) series in the US, but I really didn't get that impression from the racing this weekend. Unfair to make any sweeping statements at this point though, especially as Pastrana said the subsequent track will be less harsh on the cars. 

If the proposed electric cars that are coming are more along the lines of the Extreme E cars though, then they will probably stand up to this sort of circuit much better. 

1 hour ago, PJTierney said:

In an ideal world WRX would have these races and cars on its calendar and Coley in the comms box 😄 

NRX as a standalone event was great, but I do feel like all this has served to do is dilute the already depleted ranks of top-tier rallycross this year. 

Didn't think Coley was quite as on form as usual this weekend, though I guess there is going to be an adjustment period for this new series. 

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I thought Coley definitely had an adjustment period but I think it was partially because DeAnda seemed to take the lead of commentary when outside of the actual race action, whereas previously it was Coley who led the way through all of it. We'll see what the next race brings, but right now I don't have any interest in sitting through an additional 4 hours of dead air through a race weekend when I could just watch the replays after. 

 

Still don't understand why Subaru (and VSC) didn't want to participate in World RX this year. The regulation change allowed boxer engines after all so I'm sure they could've ran someone like Sandell + other driver in a World RX title run, given that there aren't any conflicts with the Nitro RX calendar. 

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It could simply be logistics, given "the big sneezy" is still a thing. I wouldn't be surprised if some of their staff are doing both the rally and rallycross and couldn't swap between both easily.

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5 hours ago, PJTierney said:

It could simply be logistics, given "the big sneezy" is still a thing. I wouldn't be surprised if some of their staff are doing both the rally and rallycross and couldn't swap between both easily.

Maybe, but then they're also the biggest of the motorsports company by now in World RX, NRX and ARA, and I'm sure they can spare some people for a weekend esp given none of the weekends intersect currently on the ARA and World RX. Hell EKS JC just finished the doubleheader in Latvia World RX and they were off with twice the number of cars to NRX.

ngl I kinda look down on the Subaru team for always spending the most money and using the most resources only to end up 5th and 6th in their "own" event 😆. Nice that they won some races in the last year of ARX but they still let the Drivers championship leave their grasp even after stuffing the grids with 4 cars. I have a huge amount of respect for the engineering work that VSC puts in but I do get more than a little schadenfreude at seeing just how Subaru Motorsports USA constantly find new ways of not performing. 

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I'm more thinking travel lockdowns.

Let's say their core crew's in Europe and has to quarantine when they get back. Sure some mechanics can be subbed in but if Travis or somebody's competing in both series he loses out.

 

The underdog SUBARU story kind of made sense around 2014-2017, but once VW pulled out that excuse went too.

Though to be fair on ARX they'd have won it if Scott Speed didn't break his back.

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The Nitro RX instagram page showed a drone footage preview of ERX in Minneapolis and it seems to be 100% dirt. Its very similar to the track used in the previous Off-Road Nationals, seen here. I think there's some modifications for the joker but its not that much different. 

I'm gonna be honest, I'm really whelmed by this. I get that they want to use the existing track and keep the facilities but part of the appeal for Rallycross is having the mixed surface sections. I think having all dirt just makes the racing less interesting from a strategic and technical POV. 

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On 9/28/2021 at 3:14 PM, SaltyEnferno said:

Maybe, but then they're also the biggest of the motorsports company by now in World RX, NRX and ARA, and I'm sure they can spare some people for a weekend esp given none of the weekends intersect currently on the ARA and World RX. Hell EKS JC just finished the doubleheader in Latvia World RX and they were off with twice the number of cars to NRX.

Wondering how EKS JC are managing it: they must surely have brought it additional help, as they are running (or at least supporting) a number of cars in two different continents. 

On 9/28/2021 at 3:14 PM, SaltyEnferno said:

I have a huge amount of respect for the engineering work that VSC puts in but I do get more than a little schadenfreude at seeing just how Subaru Motorsports USA constantly find new ways of not performing. 

 

On 9/28/2021 at 3:38 PM, PJTierney said:

The underdog SUBARU story kind of made sense around 2014-2017, but once VW pulled out that excuse went too.

Though to be fair on ARX they'd have won it if Scott Speed didn't break his back.

As much as I am a big Subaru fan I do agree that the underdog story is very overplayed by VSC. As already said I think it rang true in the early days of US rallycross, but at this point they are the only works team, obviously pouring money into those cars (and the facility) and still not really cleaning up...

...PJ touches on a bigger issue with them for me though: with Speed they would surely have won the Championship and I have long thought that the choice of driver for their rallycross program has been questionable. Soon as they picked a more experienced driver they were in contention: I know it wasn't quite as simple as that and that the car development reached its apex at that point, but I can't help feel that would have happened quicker with more experienced rallycross talent in the team. 

8 hours ago, SaltyEnferno said:

The Nitro RX instagram page showed a drone footage preview of ERX in Minneapolis and it seems to be 100% dirt. Its very similar to the track used in the previous Off-Road Nationals, seen here. I think there's some modifications for the joker but its not that much different. 

I'm gonna be honest, I'm really whelmed by this. I get that they want to use the existing track and keep the facilities but part of the appeal for Rallycross is having the mixed surface sections. I think having all dirt just makes the racing less interesting from a strategic and technical POV. 

I saw the clips from Minneapolis and I had similar thoughts to you: looks exactly like a short course circuit. Seemed to be a small berm dividing the main course from the joker and that is it? Wait to see if Larsson manages to roll over that! 😆

Much like the big jump in Utah, fast and flowing looks great on camera but I am not sure how well it will work for racing. Also looked to be a fair amount of dirt being chucked up by one car, hope that doesn't mean that the back half of the field will be obscured when they are all out there. Trying not to be overly negative about NRX though, so lets wait and see!

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2 hours ago, PJTierney said:

Let's see how popular this broadcast is without a massive jump in the middle then.

For me it is like watching fatal accidents on youtube, very fast very boring.

Maybe I watch without this kind of jumps, the spectacle should come from the race itself.

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2 hours ago, Janneman60 said:

Maybe I watch without this kind of jumps, the spectacle should come from the race itself.

100% agree. I am surprised how many long-term rallycross fans are excited by NRX (especially as so many were so against GRC a few years ago): the jump is a gimmick that adds nothing to the racing. 

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Some short thoughts on Day 1 ERX:

  • Thank god there's rain and the dust isn't a factor
  • The joker is actually a significant time difference to what I was expecting it to be
  • Wow does the i20 look good
  • The 208 looks like its struggling again on low grip situations? Certainly doesn't seem to be as hooked up as the other few cars are
  • I don't usually think this is the case but a 97% dirt track where the only tarmac is on the start line is just boring
  • Wow does the broadcast ever just drag on and on and on and on

Also, I really dislike how the Subarus get all this extra development and testing time on the NRX circuits because Travis is the one that's developing the tracks and Nitro Circus is running the show, plus the test for the Yokohama Tires™ that Bakkerud got. If they actually cared about being fair and impartial, Travis should've either recused himself from competition, or tested the tracks in a car that's not a Subaru. But hey, as Travis himself says, when they go over to compete in Europe/European style events like ARX they get their asses whooped so of course they have to do it AMERICAN style to win ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(I love Rallycross, I really do and I hope that the success of both World RX and NRX continue in the future because ultimately more Rallycross is good. But there's something about NRX that just feels so shallow and vapid to me that it just makes me feel jaded watching these events.)

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