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Hong Kong "test case" could lead to more non-traditional venues for World RX

The World Rallycross Championship’s first inner-city race in Hong Kong will be an “incredibly important” test case that could lead to racing in more non-traditional venues, its championship coordinator says.

Hong Kong skyline

WRX will culminate its second season under all-electric regulations this year with a doubleheader round in Hong Kong on 11-12 November, the championship's first visit to Asia.

Speaking to Autosport, Tim Whittington said the Hong Kong event will be "the most important thing we do this year" as the first true inner-city event staged by the world championship since its inception in 2014.

He believes if the event runs well, then it could not only introduce WRX to a lucrative new market but may prove that its format can be transplanted to other city locations in a manner similar to Formula E, which featured four Hong Kong street races on its calendar between 2016 and 2019.

"It's the first time we've done a true city race for rallycross at all, one of the very few times there's ever been a rallycross event inside a city," Whittington said.

"China, Hong Kong is incredibly important for rallycross in the future. If we're going to engage manufacturers, China is absolutely a key market.

"So getting that race right, providing something that an entirely new fanbase can understand and engage with is pretty important.

"It's definitely a test case for us, and we absolutely have to get it right and prove that we can do this and race in venues that are not traditional rallycross venues.

"If we get it right, which I hope we will, then it should just open the doors and give us more options for those non-traditional venues, whether they're bang in the heart of a city like Hong Kong or just some kind of urban, suburban space that we can find."

However, Whittington stressed that he doesn't believe WRX will be in opposition to Formula E if it does seek to add more inner-city venues to its calendar.

Hong Kong presentation

Hong Kong presentation

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

"I don't think we're doing the same job as FE, or really probably not targeting the same markets or anything as Formula E," he said.

"So it's not them or us, take a choice. It's maybe both of us, if you like electric racing then we're an addition rather than an option.

"I think probably there's only ever going to be more electric racing in the future."

Whittington added that a return to the United States for the first time since 2018, when it staged a race at Circuit of the Americas, may also become more likely if the Hong Kong event is a success.

"We absolutely should be back in America at some point in the future," he said.

"When that is, I don't really know. It's certainly not next year.

"I think it's more a question of trying to find the right kind of venue and perhaps that is a non-traditional venue that Hong Kong leads us to if Hong Kong is a test case for going to different places, not just going to look at a race track and trying to fit it.

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"Then maybe that's where we go back to North America and do something in a non-traditional venue."  

Five-time champion Johan Kristoffersson currently leads the standings having won each of the first three rounds at Montalegre, Hell and Holjes.

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