The FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy launched the new rallycross track at Killarney International Circuit yesterday, as tickets for the season-closing World RX of South Africa went on sale to the general public for the first time.
More than 75 key South African media and 70 guests gathered at the launch of the new South African rallycross venue, which was attended by double World RX Champion Petter Solberg, reigning RX2 Champion Cyril Raymond and Deputy Executive Mayor for the City of Cape Town, Alderman Ian Neilson.
Also in attendance today was South African rally driver Jon Williams – the only South African to have contested a full WRC campaign – who announced that he will compete in front of his home crowd this November in an OMSE RX Supercar. The 34-year-old commented: “This is a dream come true, I’ve come from track racing to rallying and now rallycross, it is the perfect combination for me. I can’t wait to compete in front of my home crowd and I hope the people of South Africa can fully get behind me.”
The Cape Town leg of World RX is the only new addition to the rallycross calendar in 2017 and marks the first time that the World Championship has visited the continent of Africa. Dating back to 1947, Killarney International Raceway has the magnificent backdrop of Table Mountain and is based just ten miles outside the city of Cape Town.
The Western Cape had its first taste of international Formula One racing when the non-championship Cape Grand Prix was held at Killarney back in 1960. Since then, the complex has grown and hosts several forms of main circuit racing as well as motocross, karting, stock cars and drag racing.
The new rallycross circuit at Killarney is about a third of the size of the main circuit and is twisty in nature with a jump. The gravel and asphalt track will use sections of the existing circuit between Turn 2 (Engen Corner) and Turn 3 (Rose Foundation Corner). Several low level grandstands around the stock car oval have already been demolished and will be replaced by larger structures. A grass bank for spectators is currently under construction.
World RX drivers Petter Solberg and Rene Muennich tested the new track today along with RX2 Champion, Cyril Raymond. Solberg said: “We have so much passion for coming to new places, driving at new circuits and I’m very happy to come here. It’s fantastic that IMG is taking the World Championship to a new continent. It’s great to have a local hero Jon Williams confirmed to compete at his home round too. The track looks very technical in places and it’s all about being flat out. I am looking forward to trying it. My father-in-law drove some rallies in South Africa in the 1980s so it’s quite interesting because what we are doing is bringing at least 150 people from Scandinavia.”
Deputy Executive Mayor for the City of Cape Town, Alderman Ian Neilson added: “With World RX coming to South Africa, we really have an event of great value and international exposure coming to our city. To have a five-year deal in place is fantastic news and means we’re really able to build the brand here in Cape Town.. The economic benefit in Cape Town helps the country as a whole. We not only have the drivers, teams and families but I think primarily for us the TV and international media coverage is where the real value lies, which will really help to put Cape Town on the map.”
Paul Bellamy, World RX Managing Director for IMG, concluded: “It’s very important for us to come to South Africa. This is the only FIA World Championship to have a round staged in sub-Saharan African. We felt the country was right for a World Championship – I can’t think of any better place in the world to visit in November than Cape Town. We want the crowd to come down to Killarney and get behind the likes of their home driver Jon Williams who will be competing in November.”