Fiat crossover ready to conquer the world of rallying
More than two decades ago the governing body of motorsport greatly revised the categories allowed to race in rally events, meaning that the much popular kit cars, like the Renault Mégane Maxi or the Peugeot 306 Maxi cars were gone. These cars never represented the top-tier of rallying, but because they were not restrained by the regulations of the WRC class, they were able to perform very rapid maneuvers in the hands of great drivers like Jean Ragnotti or Gilles Panizzi, thus earning immortality in the heart of many European rally fans. Seeing a huge gap in contemporary rallying, the FIA once again decided to create an opportunity for this car design, calling it the new R4 category (mind you - it's not to be confused with the previous R4 category that represented old Group N cars). Development of the prototypes have been underway for a while now - the kit fits Minis, the new Ford Fiesta and even the Dacia Sandero, so generally not much surprise about the available range of chassis.
However, there is a black sheep in the herd, as France based motorsport team Milano Racing built their stallion around the crossover SUV Fiat 500X. Don't be fooled though: technology under the hood is developed by Oreca, whom you may know from the world of endurance racing and Le Mans. Everyone receives the same suspension, engine, engine management and all-wheel drive system. Their testing so far is going pretty well, having started in two French rallys this year finishing 8th overall both times, which is rather impressive, as the field in these events are always very competitive. In tarmac setup the car sits a bit lower than for gravel which makes it look more like a compact, but overall it retained the form of the roadgoing 500X.
While we will mostly see these cars in national level rallys, they are also eligible to join the WRC field starting next year, which will likely occur at least for some events and already happened for the first stage of this year's Finland Rally where the Mini Cooper R4 debuted. Judging by the onboard video shot by racing driver Riku Tahko, they will be fast enough to provide plenty of fun for the crew and spectators alike.