World Rallycross of Spa-Francorchamps: a Racing Gamer's guide

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The World Rallycross Championship, known as World RX, heads to Belgium this weekend. Here's the lowdown on how to watch and what to expect from one of motorsport's greatest spectacles.

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Rallycross cars are modified hatchbacks, with four-wheel drive and upwards of 600 horsepower. Their acceleration from standing is actually quicker than a Formula 1 car up to around 80 mph. They're absolute beasts, but how does the racing work?

The Rallycross format

Rallycross is a pretty straightforward contest. Races are contested over just a few short laps, normally three but can be more if the circuit is too tiny. Drivers have to take a "joker" once during the race. The joker is an alternative route, usually longer and muddier than the corners it misses out, designed to add a degree of strategy to the racing.

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World Rallycross cars competing in the rain in Norway. Photo by EKS

Drivers with a poor start will usually take the joker immediately to put themselves in clean air, which can put them back in the fight for the lead. Those in the lead battle from the start have a tricky decision to make about when to joker.

The contest starts with heats. In these heats, groups of cars go head to head and the overall order is determined by the total race time for each car. It is, therefore, better to be a fast second in your heat than win a slow race. This ensures maximum attack at all times!

After that are a pair of semi-finals which are a knockout format. The best drivers go through to the final and race for the victory.

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Rallycross in gaming

The Rallycross format works well in racing games. The circuits, generally with a mixture of dirt and tarmac, and the four-wheel drive hatchbacks that race them have appeared in many great titles.

The three-lap and joker format was used in the influential MRC: Multi Racing Championship game for the Nintendo 64. I also enjoyed the old RX layout of Brands Hatch being present in TOCA Race Driver 3.

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The Dirt series currently hold the license for official World Rallycross games

More recently Codemasters have produced games officially licensed by World Rallycross. You can experience these vehicles in the Dirt and Dirt Rally games.

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The World Rallycross Championship

Arguably the least known of the five FIA world championships, World Rallycross has been dominated by Scandinavian drivers since its 2014 reboot. The previous champions are Norway's Petter Solberg, and Swedes Mattias Ekstrom, Johan Kristoffersson, and Timmy Hansen.

Three-time world champion Kristoffersson has had a string of bad luck this season but managed to take his first win of the year last time out in Riga. Can he turn his season around and get back into the battle with the Hansen brothers, Timmy and Kevin?

The top drivers all also compete in Extreme E, which we'd love to see in a racing game!

Watching the World RX

World Rallycross is broadcast on their RX+ app. It can also be watched on the Red Bull TV app and website. Racing is set to get underway at 12:15 CET on Saturday, 9th October.

In the UK you can also catch the World Rallycross on the BT Sport channels. They're broadcasting Sunday's action from 4pm.

Last season's races are all available in full on YouTube, so you can get a taste for the action.