They’re used to competing at the highest levels of motorsport, but that didn’t stop three of Britain’s brightest young racing talents being left almost speechless after experiencing the sheer power of a Supercar as raced in the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy at Silverstone last week. Their exploits will be broadcast on Sky Sports F1 during this weekend’s coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
ART Grand Prix FIA Formula 2 Championship pairing George Russell and Jack Aitken were joined by their GP3 Series stablemate Callum Ilott at the ‘Home of British Motor Racing’ in getting the full experience of a World RX passenger ride before receiving the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a rallycross car themselves.
The trio were first given a taste of what to expect when they joined two-time FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg in his 600bhp PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo Supercar for an unforgettable high-speed ‘taxi passenger’ ride around the all-new Silverstone rallycross circuit, which will host the World RX of Great Britain as part of the much-anticipated Speedmachine festival on 26-27 May.
With the adrenaline now pumping, Russell, Ilott and Aitken were subsequently offered the chance to jump in the driver’s seat for a high-speed blast in 310bhp, mid-engined, four-wheel drive Supercar Lites machinery as raced in the supporting RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires.
As well as being title favourites in their respective series’, the trio are also considered ‘stars of tomorrow’ after securing coveted positions on Formula 1 young driver programmes; Russell is an official reserve driver for reigning F1 champions Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Aitken is associated with Renault Sport Academy and Ilott is a Ferrari F1 Driver Academy member.
With RX2 regarded as the official feeder category to World RX in much the same way F2 is seen in relation to F1, it was only fitting that a pair of rallycross’ own burgeoning superstars would be on hand to guide the ‘newcomers’, with up-and-coming youngsters Oliver Eriksson and Guillaume De Ridder lending some expert tuition.
“Unbelievable – just outrageous!” enthused 20-year-old Russell, the reigning GP3 Champion and a previous winner of the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. “The power and grip were a real shock – so much higher than I’d been expecting, and on the gravel, it was just crazy. I’ve genuinely never experienced anything like that before. I really got the chance to throw the car around and it was the first time I’ve taken a jump in a racing car! It was incredible – one of the most fun cars I’ve ever driven. I already want to have another go…”
“That was pretty impressive and very cool – I really enjoyed the experience,” echoed Ilott, a multiple race-winner in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. “It’s a really special car to drive. I didn’t expect it to be as quick as it was, and it generated a lot of grip in the asphalt sections of the track. It’s a very well-balanced piece of kit that handles the transition from the asphalt to the gravel really nicely, and I was able to slide it around a bit too, which was a lot of fun. It takes a battering out there and just soaks up all the abuse!”
“What an awesome experience!” grinned Aitken, runner-up in GP3 last year. “The car has way more grip than I’d expected, particularly on the Tarmac. The more you attack, the more it rewards you and the more your confidence builds, which is very enjoyable. The only disappointment was that we didn’t have more time in the car – I’d love to have another go at some stage…”
Viewers can catch their full experience on Sky Sports F1 at 11:00 this Saturday, 7 April in a feature entitled ‘F1 – The Next Generation’ directly ahead of the channel’s live coverage of the weekend’s opening Formula 2 race. Repeat broadcasts will air at 18:50 on Saturday and 12:05 on Sunday.
In addition to the spectacular action on track at Silverstone over the World RX of Great Britain weekend, Speedmachine’s packed entertainment bill ensures there will be something for each event-goer to enjoy. This includes headline live music from the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Lethal Bizzle and Ministry of Sound, Esports, drifting, iconic car displays and the very best street food, not to mention a truly unique opportunity for attendees to get behind the wheel of a performance car and drive the world-famous Silverstone Formula 1 circuit.