'The new cars are brutal, mindblowing': World RX prepares to go all-electric

Rallycross News

Klara Andersson, part of the WRX's first gender-equal team, looks forward to a new all-electric era with cars that have greater acceleration than F1


World RX is set to go all-electric for the first time


Deep breath. The 2022 World Rallycross Championship finally kicks off this weekend with a brave relaunch. The series is the latest to embrace electrification – but there are no hybrid half-measures here. World RX is going fully electric, and it all starts, fittingly for you EV cynics out there, in Hell.

The amusingly named venue in Norway hosts the beginning of a new era following the postponement of what was supposed to be the first round at the Nürburgring last month. The delay has given the teams more time to get to know and prepare the new breed of car, which have not yet been revealed to the public (the pictures we present here are of a show car). The wraps are coming off on Thursday (August 11) with a presentation event in the town of Stjørdal, before the 11-round series begins in Hell at the weekend.

Out go the familiar pops and bangs from the RX1 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinders in favour of an electric formula that at least on paper does sound pretty potent. The new cars are billed as the most powerful ever seen in rallycross, with electric powertrains that generate 500kW – the equivalent of 680bhp – and 880Nm of instant torque for acceleration that would leave a Formula 1 car in their dust.


Klara Andersson will be paired with Niclas Grönholm in World RX’s first ever gender equal driver line-up


On the grid among series superstars such as Johan Kristoffersson, Timmy Hansen and his brother Kevin will be Klara Andersson, who will form World RX’s first full-season gender-equal driver line-up, at the stoically-named Construction Equipment Dealer Team with Niclas Grönholm, son of two-time WRC king Marcus Grönholm. Andersson comes from a rallycross family, so although she’s stepping up a level this year to race in the premier class for the first time, she’s well placed to offer some perspective on how the new breed is shaping up and what fans of this made-for-TV shortform motor sport code should expect. She also has prior EV experience courtesy of the existing RX2e class.

“The biggest difference from traditional cars is the acceleration,” she says – no surprise there. “It’s instant torque, you don’t have to wait for anything when you put down the throttle, it just goes. It’s so instant, and it has so much power. When I tried the RX2e car for the first time I thought OK, we have this power package, now I need to adapt my driving style to use it in the best way. You do have to learn how to adapt to put this amount of power down. But since I come from karting it suits me as a driver. I’m neat and have not so much rotation in the car, trying to keep the wheels in line and just going as quick as I can all the time.

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“This new car does 0-100kph (0-60mph) in under two seconds, it has four-wheel drive with 680bhp, 880Nm of torque… It’s brutal.”

So what is she expecting in Hell? “The first laps will be mind-blowing. This electric era suits rallycross so perfectly because it is so explosive and intense and you can really use all the power you have flat out for five laps, you don’t have to save any energy. It really suits the sport well.”

Lack of range remains the biggest hurdle for EV motor sport, which is why the likes of the World Rally Championship has taken a hybrid path that is less of a diversion away from convention – although we’ve seen the technical progress that has been made in this regard in Formula E. But it’s no coincidence that of those series adopting fully electric powertrains they all run to a shortform style of racing. Indeed, Extreme E and the Pure ETCR tin-top series that is in its second season have all drawn inspiration from rallycross.

She assures fans they shouldn’t be worried about a lack of spectacle. “It’s going to be so, so good. It’s a match made in heaven, even more intense and explosive, dramatic and action-packed. Also the drivers are so good at this level, so it will be really good racing. I’m excited to see how it turns out. I grew up watching these guys, so it will be great to be beside them on the grid. But when I have my helmet on I don’t care who I’m racing, it’s just another driver I want to beat.”

The first-female angle is important, as she acknowledges. But as is happily so often the case with women racers in other forms of motor sport, she reports her gender has never been an issue throughout her racing career – which dates back to her first go in a kart at seven. Now 22, she’s been rallycrossing for four years.


0-100kph (0-60mph) in under 2sec, 4wd, 680bhp means the new WRX beast can out-drag an F1 car – the series displays a show car above


The move for the world series will upset some purist fans, inevitably. But it’s hard to argue that in our changing world it’s really the only direction the promoter and the FIA could take with a form of motor sport which is all about short, sharp action.

“Society is heading into a more sustainable future with the development of private cars,” says Andersson. “Society is entering this electric era and a lot of other disciplines are doing the same. It’s really good that rallycross is doing that also and taking a really big step towards a sustainable future. It sends a good message.”

“When you are seven, eight or nine you don’t care whether you are racing against males or females,” she says. “Since I started in rallycross I’ve always felt respect from my competitors which I’m really pleased about. For example, last year in the Swedish national championship it was me versus 55 men. It didn’t feel that way, I always felt respected and they always saw me as just another driver to beat.”

Naturally, Andersson is cautious to expect too much from her first season racing at this level. “For this year we have a clear vision, both me and the team: to feel comfortable in the car and learn the new tracks I will be driving on,” she says. “When I’m driving a new car I always want to have a positive development curve so it rises quicker, to be mature and humble about the new challenge and to develop as much as I can as quick as I can. It’s necessary to be realistic about this step and be smart about it.”

To catch all the action and find out whether the electric era lives up to expectations, you can stream coverage from the official website (at a price). Spreading the word about a form of motor sport that remains under the radar for too many is key. Given that rallycross was created in 1967 at Lydden Hill primarily to appeal to TV audiences, it’s a shame free coverage isn’t readily available via a mainstream broadcaster. It’s also a pity a British round hasn’t been included on the calendar. Maybe next year.