World Rallycross promoter IMG to end tenure as commercial rights holder

World Rallycross Championship promotor IMG will end its tenure as the commercial rights holder of the series at the end of this year, Autosport has learned

World Rallycross promoter IMG to end tenure as commercial rights holder

IMG became the promotor of FIA rallycross for the 2013 season in a 20-year agreement with the FIA, but, Autosport understands, will cease to run the series after the end of the current campaign. Work is understood to be ongoing to secure the future of the dual-surface discipline's top level.

When asked for clarification about the current situation by Autosport, World RX boss Paul Bellamy said in a statement: "Despite this year's challenges, we are proud to be delivering the 2020 FIA World Rallycross and FIA European Rallycross Championships this season, and looking forward to Spain, Belgium and Germany to complete the season.

"We are currently evaluating multiple options for the future of these championships in discussion with the FIA, and will share more detail in due course."

Having secured the commercial rights to FIA rallycross during 2012, IMG launched its new venture at Santa Pod in the UK in October that year.

The new-look European Rallycross Championship, initially tagged 'rallycrossrx' was given a revised event structure and increased promotion, which included live television coverage from the fourth round in Finland. The new era of the discipline attracted names like 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg.

Just a year later, the series grew into an FIA World Championship, one of five series to hold the title alongside Formula 1, the World Rally Championship, the World Touring Car Championship and the World Endurance Championship in 2014.

The shift to FIA World status took rallycross to new territories within Europe and further afield, like North and South America, Asia and later Africa and the Middle East. The series' growth immediately started to attract manufacturer backing for teams, and world-renowned drivers like Mattias Ekstrom, Sebastien Loeb and Ken Block as permanent entrants.

By 2017 four squads; Team Peugeot-Hansen, EKS (Audi), PSRX Volkswagen Sweden and Hoonigan Racing Division (Ford), were running works supported programmes.

However, manufacturer involvement ended amid plans to switch World RX's top category to electric cars, initially intended to begin in 2020. Marques left either because the electric switch in the top tier was not for them, or that the electric transition was not happening quickly enough for their requirements. The series' electric strategy has since been revised and EV technology is planned to be introduced to the discipline's top class from 2022.

Continuing without direct manufacturer involvement and despite the financial implications that meant for teams, World RX enjoyed arguably its most competitive campaign to date in 2019.

The originally announced 2020 calendar was delayed and changed, as in all top-flight motorsport, due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the series has held six rounds so far as part of three doubleheader weekends in Sweden, Finland and Latvia. Four rounds of the 2020 campaign remain over three weekends in Spain (doubleheader), Belgium and Germany.

IMG was acquired by William Morris Endeavor in 2013, initially creating WME IMG and later being rebranded as Endeavor. It is not yet clear why IMG is withdrawing from rallycross, however, financial watchdogs in America reported in April that Endeavor, an events company, was in over $7 billion debt and ratings agencies downgraded the company's outlook to negative.

Riga World Rallycross: Ekstrom beats Kristofferson to second Latvia WRX win
Previous article

Riga World Rallycross: Ekstrom beats Kristofferson to second Latvia WRX win

Next article

Tender process launched for new World Rallycross promoter

Tender process launched for new World Rallycross promoter
Load comments
From Lebanon to cross-category world titles - a rally legend's top 10 Plus

From Lebanon to cross-category world titles - a rally legend's top 10

Petter Solberg has called time on his top-flight career after winning titles in two FIA world championships. Here, the 2003 rally and '14/15 rallycross king recalls his 10 best events - including the moment where all his success began

World Rallycross
Nov 7, 2019
How to make an F1 venue fit for World RX Plus

How to make an F1 venue fit for World RX

World Rallycross makes its first appearance at Silverstone this year as part of the 'Speedmachine' festival in May. We take a look at how the new rallycross track fared in its debut event

World Rallycross
Mar 22, 2018
Volkswagen hasn't disappeared completely Plus

Volkswagen hasn't disappeared completely

Volkswagen's abrupt departure from the World Rally Championship it was dominating was one of the winter's biggest shocks. Now 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg's World Rallycross team has VW support. What does that mean for World RX and what remains of Volkswagen Motorsport?

World Rallycross
Apr 3, 2017
Why rallycross is becoming irresistible Plus

Why rallycross is becoming irresistible

Sebastien Loeb started a new journey in his motorsport career last weekend, but he wasn't the only attraction in Portugal. DAVID EVANS examines why the World Rallycross product works so well

World Rallycross
Apr 21, 2016
How good is World Rallycross? Plus

How good is World Rallycross?

The entries are strong, the cars are powerful and it can teach the WRC a thing or two about promotion. But after visiting the Lydden Hill round, DAVID EVANS still has his doubts

World Rallycross
May 30, 2014
New rallycross golden age comes to Britain Plus

New rallycross golden age comes to Britain

The sport began at Lydden in the late 1960s and this weekend the new-look World Rallycross Championship will strut its stuff at the Kent venue. HAL RIDGE explains why it will be unmissable

World Rallycross
May 23, 2014
Solberg: why rallycross is my future Plus

Solberg: why rallycross is my future

PETTER SOLBERG had a rough first season back in rallycross, but that hasn't deterred him from signing up for the first year of its new era in 2014, as he explains in his AUTOSPORT column

World Rallycross
Oct 16, 2013
Solberg: back to school Plus

Solberg: back to school

Petter Solberg says that there's still lots to learn about running a successful rallycross campaign, but he's really enjoying getting back to his roots

World Rallycross
Apr 2, 2013