It takes something special for a racing car to be seen as a pioneer, or a machine which is adored by multiple drivers. But that’s what Nitro Rallycross‘ all-new Group E category is set to do as the FC1-X makes its racing debut at Lydden Hill on June 18-19.
Kevin Eriksson has been involved with testing of the FC1-X since the beginning in 2021, and believes its the best car he has ever driven.
“It’s been a long journey,” Eriksson told Total-Motorsport.com. “I’ve been involved from from the get go from the beginning and it feels like one big family guy.
“We all seem relaxed, have fun and share ideas. I think we all want this to be good. So instead of us being competitors and trying to fool everyone, we all know we can make this [championship] super huge.
“For sure, the car is the fastest I’ve ever driven. You don’t need to think about the gearing. even though we have three gears.
“Sometimes you fool yourself with how fast you’re going. When I’ve been testing sometimes, I come in and say ‘it felt slow’ and then I check the speed and I’m like, ‘wow’.”
Another young gun Connor Martell will finally get a chance to make a name for himself with Vermont SportsCar.
Martell has raced in Europe and America, winning a 2018 title in ARX2 with a record eight wins. But his career somewhat stalled, until now.
“I’ve been in the Lites class for a long time, which is very momentum driven car and that’s one of the best things you could have for training for Group E, and I’ve done it for six years now,” said Martell
“It’s crazy to think that I’m skipping a step and getting right into an FC1-X.
“I definitely feel like I’m at where I need to be to drive these cars and compete with some of the best drivers in the world. The target of the year is to win the championship and do well for the team.”
Martell joins the likes of Jenson Button, Kris Meeke and Oliver Bennett by giving high praise to the FC1-X, comparing it to a Formula 1 car.
“We have been able to get out in the dry, drive it, actually feel the full power and it’s just unbelievable,” stated Martell.
“It completely blows a Supercar away. QEV Technologies and Andreas Eriksson have done an incredible job with the car. It’s handling very well, it’s controllable and most of all, just super, super fast.
“To me, it’s the F1 car of rallycross and I don’t think you’re ever going to get much better than this. We have 12 inches of travel in these now so it’s super stable. You’re really not moving around in the car either.
“The car from the outside looks like it moves a lot but when you’re in the car, it feels like you don’t, you’re not moving at all. When going over jumps, you don’t know that you’ve left the ground or landed. It’s super easy to drive wherever you turn the wheel, which is a driver’s dream.
“I don’t think I’ve ever got in a race car that doesn’t have understeer. It’s going to get better and better as each team finds their own little tricks too.”
It’s a huge year for rallycross because no series has been able to grab electrification by its neck and make it work.
In the United States, rallycross is on the decline, having previously been a big market for the sport in decades gone by.
“I think this year is super important for rallycross in general and for Nitro RX and American rallycross,” explained Martell, who is from the USA. “Every other rallycross series in America has failed.
“I think Nitro RX, Travis [Pastrana] and everybody else is doing the best job. We’re all pulling on the same rope to try and get to the same end goal.
“This year, it’s big for all the teams to work together, not against each other. Obviously on the track, we’re going to race each other hard. But off the track, we need to all be going on the same road to get to the same place because that’s where we all need to be.”
It’s widely expected that the racing will see the same drama of 2021 with the internal combustion Supercar class.
Contact, different strategies and pure racing in spec cars is a combination which has attracted Eriksson back to full-time racing.
“I’ve always been for spec class racing series,” revealed Eriksson. “I think it’s by far the best racing that we get as it’s between the drivers.
“Usually we have someone who spends so much more money than someone else so they are unbeatable. We see that in other disciplines.
“In Nitro RX, yes you can do some small tweaks here and there so it’s important to have a good team behind you.
“But in the end, it’s about who has the best day, woke up on the correct side and that really makes me really hungry to race again.”
In just its second season, Nitro RX is going international with the opening three rounds taking place in England, Sweden and Finland.
There will also be events in Saudi Arabia and Canada, with the USA hosting five rounds with the season finishing in March 2023.
Eriksson, who is a winner in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, believes Nitro RX is making off-road racing cool again.
“I think rallycross has lately gone in the wrong direction, almost going more towards touring car racing,” said Eriksson.
“I loved the Group B era that we had with cool tracks, cars that are super fast and that is what I liked.
“Nitro RX bringing this back. They’re bringing back the cars with crazy amounts of power and torque.
“They’re bringing back the tracks with even crazier elements, stuff we’ve never seen before really on our tracks and it makes me excited. It feels like when I was 12, playing Colin McRae Dirt and that’s what I like. I’m a little bit of a crazy guy.
“I like to try to things that no one else is going to try and at Nitro RX everyone is trying to do the impossible.”