Martin Anayi heads up the World RX team at IMG Motorsport, the promoter of the FIA’s newest World Championship.
This year will mark the inaugural season of the highly-anticipated FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy: motorsport’s fastest-growing World Championship, which is centred around incredible 600bhp machines which reach nought to sixty faster than a Formula One car.
IMG Motorsport – a division of IMG, the global sport, fashion and media company – is the Championship promoter of the FIA’s newest World Championship and is responsible for all TV, commercial and promotional rights of the 12-round series which takes in rounds including Argentina, Turkey, Canada, France, Italy and Great Britain.
We caught up with Martin Anayi – who heads up the World RX team at IMG - to find out the initial reactions to motorsport’s newest World Championship and plans for the upcoming season…The news that rallycross has been granted FIA World Championship status in 2014 has caused quite a stir, how did this process come about? “We were planning to move to FIA World Championship status in 2015, but we were astounded by the support when we were a European series and therefore decided to go for it a year earlier than initially planned. With IMG looking after the entire commercial rights of the Championship, we were in a strong position to leverage the sport’s surging popularity and thankfully the FIA recognised how far we had come in year one. We know the future of World RX is huge and now we have world status, we’ve got the perfect opportunity to showcase our sport across the globe.”
What makes rallycross different from other forms of motorsport? “Everything! Rallycross has a mix of the best elements that motorsport has to offer: it is a drag race off the lights, they take corners like a drift car and jumps like a rally car – fans are going to love this sport. A typical rallycross Supercar is based on a standard road car but it has an incredible amount of power, with over 600 bhp, and they can reach nought to sixty in 1.9 seconds. The technology is simple but very effective. The sport is also very spectator-friendly, and the semi-final/final knockout format creates exciting wheel-to-wheel race action. This makes it the perfect spectator sport but also means that it lends itself well to the small screen too.”
Speaking of small screens, which TV stations will be broadcasting World RX this season? “By the end of 2013, we were broadcasting World RX in more than 40 countries, and over half of those were live. In 2014, we are working hard to ensure over 50 countries will be televising World RX, with an even higher proportion of broadcasters covering our races live. We already have British Eurosport confirmed to televise eight of our events live, and we also have deals with Viasat in the Nordic region, Al Jazeera Sport and FOX, to name but a few big broadcasting partners moving forward – and we still have some more exciting partnerships to be confirmed.”
You’ve already announced manufacturer support, as well as some big motorsport names such as Jacques Villeneuve who will be competing this season – but is there anything else we can expect from World RX in 2014? “The number of varied drivers, manufacturer support and different teams will certainly make for a competitive season. We have drivers competing in World RX who have won Championships in F1, WRC, DTM and Formula Drift before, but I am certain that some of our other drivers will give them a run for their money. It’s fantastic that our regular drivers will have the chance to be pitted against legendary names in motorsport such as Villeneuve – and it’s also going to make for some extremely close racing. In regards to other news, we still have some drivers set to announce their 2014 campaigns and we’re working towards some interesting wildcard entrants at selected rounds this year.”
IMG recently announced that it would be launching a one-make category [RX Lites], what is the rationale behind this? “RX Lites will run at a minimum of five World RX rounds in 2014 and this year will be the first of a multi-year agreement. Simply put, it’s designed to develop the rallycross stars of the future. All RX Lites entrants will compete in identical 310bhp, all-wheel-drive, rear-engined machinery but most important of all: the costs are kept strictly to a minimum. It’s an exciting new proposition and will be a fantastic stepping stone for young drivers looking to hone their skills in rallycross.”
Finally, what is the future of World RX? “That’s an interesting question because we’re looking to build a sustainable Championship, but also looking to expand it at the same time. We’ve been working alongside our presenting sponsor Monster Energy to build our relationships within Europe, but we’re also focusing on new emerging markets such as Spain and Russia where there is a lot of interest in motorsport. We’re also responding to interest in Asia, Latin American countries and the Middle East. It’s an exciting time for World RX but I have no doubt that the best is yet to come…”
FIA World Rallycross