World RX

Coventry announces plan for Rallycross race in city centre

Coventry may soon be hosting its own round of the World Rallycross Championship as the organisers of the city’s MotoFest are apparently “in talks” with motorsport’s governing body.

MotoFest Coventry, which celebrates car culture and the city’s long-standing links with the automotive industry, is hoping to run the rallycross race in 2025, as part of an extended MotoFest weekend.

Racing on dirt and road

Rallycross is a “dual-surface” discipline that combines dirt and asphalt surfaces in one event, creating a greater challenge for drivers and teams alike. Allegedly created by British TV companies looking for a sport that didn’t depend on the weather, it became popular in the 1960s.

UK motoring events and festivals calendar 2019

The first driver to win a rallycross event was Vic Elford, who crossed the line in a bright red Porsche 911 before going on to race in Formula 1.

Today, the sport tends to feature compact hatchbacks more closely related to rally cars than GT or sports cars, with current teams running models such as Seat Ibizas and Peugeot 208s.

City-centre circuit planned

The proposed Coventry circuit, which is expected to join the World Rallycross (World RX) Championship next summer, is planned to start on Queen Victoria Road, in the city centre, before using Croft Road and the A4053 to create a circuit of around a kilometre in length.

Proposed layout of the World RX track at MotoFest Coventry

World RX star Kevin Hansen, who came second in the World RX Championship in 2023, has been drafted in to help design the track.

It is hoped that the rallycross racing would form part of an overgrown MotoFest Coventry weekend, sitting alongside the sprint circuit programme and the British Automobile Racing Club’s (BARC) Connaught Speed Championship Rounds, which already form part of the event.

The festival will also continue to host its Crewsade Drift Arena, live action arenas and static and dynamic car displays, not to mention its “full entertainment programme.”

MotoFest Coventry

Inspiration for the bid comes after the World Rallycross Championship hosted its first downtown event in Hong Kong last year, and the series’ promoters are keen for more street circuits to feature on the calendar.

Should the event go ahead, the organisers claim it would be the UK’s first active street circuit since the Birmingham Superprix hosted single-seaters, sports cars and touring cars in the late 1980s. London hosts a Formula E race at its ExCel centre, but whether that counts as a proper street circuit is up for debate.

Electric and petrol racers now compete

Coventry’s bid also comes at a time of change for the World Rallycross Championship, which will pit battery- and combustion-powered cars against each other for the first time in 2024.

“Since being appointed promoter of this championship, one thing that has been clear to us is rallycross’s enormous potential to appeal to new audiences — a point very well-illustrated by the phenomenal success of our inaugural city-centre event in Hong Kong last year,” said Rallycross Promoter’s managing director, Arne Dirks.

“That was a real milestone moment and has encouraged us to explore further metropolitan locations.”

World RX

“MotoFest Coventry has solidly established itself as one of the UK’s most popular car-themed events, and after being introduced to James (Noble, the festival director) and his team, we quickly agreed that we share a common vision — to bring maximum entertainment to as many people as possible in a dynamic downtown setting.

“We are excited to continue working together as we investigate the possibility of incorporating World RX into MotoFest in 2025 and beyond.”

However, before the circuit can be confirmed for the 2025 calendar, MotoFest Coventry and World RX are entering into a consultation period with partners and local residents, seeking their input into how the project can move forward.

“We have made no secret in the past of our ambition to stage competitive motorsport on Coventry Ring Road and having successfully delivered closed-road time trials, we are now driving forward with the next phase of that plan,” said Noble.

“With a track design drawn up, we are close to having all the pieces in place for this ambitious project. We are now actively seeking commercial partners to provide the necessary infrastructure and finance required to turbocharge our ambitions and take the plan off the start line.

World RX

“With the ambition to stage exhilarating, all-electric racing on our unique city centre sprint circuit, we are taking MotoFest Coventry to the next level by putting the event at the heart of sustainable motorsport for now and the future.

“This is a massive opportunity to showcase Coventry’s motoring past with a project that will help secure its future as a city at the heart of transport innovation and development.”

The FIA — motorsport’s governing body — is apparently in support of the idea, with the organisation’s road sport director, Andrew Wheatley, describing Coventry as “an ideal location” for a circuit.

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