Yes, you read that correctly. , who has won the World Rally Championship () every year since 2004, is coming to LA to compete in the Rallycross events at X Games 18.
Travis Pastrana, who is credited with adding rally events to the , challenged Loeb to come and compete in X Games for his first ever race in the U.S. erroneously, said it would be his first ever race in North America. Last time I checked Mexico is in North America and Loeb has won the Mexican round of the WRC the past six years.
It was obviously pre-arranged as Loeb accepted the challenge and said the prospect of racing in a new setting does not bother him in the slightest: "I love racing and I'm always interested in trying out new categories. A week after the New Zealand Rally has finished, I'll be in Los Angeles to take up the challenge set for me by Travis! Rallycross here in Europe provides some very spectacular racing, but the American version seems to be even more extreme. So, I didn't need to be asked twice when the opportunity arose to race against drivers like Marcus Grönholm in a 545bhp Citroën DS3!"
To maximize its chances of winning, Racing says it has developed a very special DS3 called XL, as in X Games and Loeb. It is based on a rallycross car built by Hansen Motorsport in Sweden. "It's always exciting to try out a new category and attempt to get the most out of the regulations," confirmed Cyrille Jourdan, lead engineer for the project at Citroën Racing. "From a distance, the Rallycross DS3 looks quite similar to the WRC. Although the design of the chassis and suspension systems are fairly similar, the powertrain is fundamentally different. The DS3 XL's two-liter turbo engine develops 545 bhp and 800 Nm (590 lb-ft) of torque. Its acceleration isn't far off that of an F1 car, covering 0 to 100kph (62 mph) in 2.4 seconds!"
Colin McRae, the 1995 WRC champ, entered the inaugural rally event at X Games 12 in 2006. Grönholm, a two-time WRC champ, competed last year in the first Global RallyCross event at on the streets of Los Angeles. However, this will be the first year a current WRC champ competes in the increasingly prestigious event.
Getting Loeb is really quite a coup for X Games and this years' event, which will take place on July 1, promises to be spectacular considering the stature of the competitors. Grönholm in the Best Buy Ford Fiesta won both the first two events in the series at Charlotte and Texas. Personally, I found the events a little disappointing as they did not have any dirt sections; the jump in Texas was not very realistic and proved fairly tough on equipment since it was made out of steel plates instead of dirt.
Here's hoping the course that is dreamed up by the organizers on the streets of downtown Los Angeles for X Games 18 will be as good or even better than it was last year.