The British round of the World Rallycross Championship at Silverstone has been dropped from the 2020 schedule as organisers say it is not economically viable.
The UK’s World RX round moved from Lydden Hill to Silverstone in 2018, when the Northamptonshire circuit’s owners and World RX promotor IMG jointly promoted the Speedmachine Festival, which included live music and street food.
For the second Speedmachine Festival this year, IMG promoted the event itself, but says it won’t run the event again next year.
“One of the reasons we went to Silverstone was to utilise the whole facility, not just the rallycross track,” World RX boss Paul Bellamy told Motorsport.com. “What we found is, as the whole car industry moves to electrification, there was less budget for car manufacturers to put people in their ICE [internal combustion engine] cars to test them.
“Subsequently it meant that the likes of Peugeot and Volkswagen didn’t require the [Formula 1] track that we used to do passenger rides and things like that. Unless you’re actually utilising the whole circuit, it’s economically not viable.”
Jani Paasonen, Team Stard, Mark Higgins
Photo by: FIA World Rallycross
Next year will mark the first time since 2008 that the sport’s top level hasn’t had a round in the UK.
“It’s a shame, the UK has a rich tradition of rallycross,” Bellamy said. “You need to get a big crowd in to an area to make it financially viable, and we just couldn’t do that, so unfortunately we took Silverstone off the calendar.”
Asked why the event wasn’t better attended, Bellamy continued: “I think there was a number of reasons. We felt that a lot of fans might want to camp, in the way that they do with other music festivals. That didn’t really take off, so it meant they needed to get home that night and how do you get home on a Saturday night in the UK? The nearest train station was 30 minutes away.
“We did look to put on buses to the train station, but it just didn’t register with music fans. I think the people that did go enjoyed the concert, but putting concerts on of that size, with that stage and that lighting is ridiculously expensive. And when you’re a third party and renting a whole circuit, it’s expensive to rent those sort of circuits.”
Despite having dropped Silverstone from the 2020 calendar, Bellamy is resolute that a UK round could return to World RX in the future.
He said: “Obviously there’s still Lydden Hill and the changes that the Doran family are trying to do there. And there’s Silverstone, a fantastic facility in the centre of the country and we’re still on good terms with them so we wouldn’t discount going back.”
Canada round also dropped
Winner Andreas Bakkerud, Monster Energy RX Cartel
Photo by: FIA World Rallycross
Bellamy also confirmed that the Canadian round at Trois-Rivieres has been dropped from the calendar, in part to remove the mid-season, two-month travel time to and from North America by sea.
“Going back to Germany [Nurburgring] was really important for us,” he said. “Unfortunately that means Canada’s dropped out, but Canada was always difficult at that time of year, because it took the cars out for so long, which was really difficult for the teams.
"We’re not going to Canada and we’re not going to COTA [which was dropped at the end of 2018], so it should be a lot more cost-effective travel-wise for teams to get to the events.”
Bellamy wouldn’t be drawn on where the two TBC events on the released 11-round 2020 calendar would be held.