Opposite lock, some light contact and a few feet of air… all at the same time. Sandwiched in the mid-air battle for first place at Franciacorta in Italy over the weekend is Petter Solberg, on his way to claiming the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Championship.
Having won the 2003 World Rally Championship, he is the first driver ever to win FIA world championships in two different disciplines. Of course, there have been other drivers to have had success in multiple disciplines, but they haven’t always fallen into the scope of international FIA championships. The most obvious one is John Surtees, who famously has titles in grand prix and motorcycle racing.
The FIA was established in 1904 to look after the interests of road-going motorists and related organisations. Its first primary role in motorsport was to standardise the rules for grand prix racing in 1946. The first drivers’ championship occurred in 1950. In 1951, the FIA World Sports Car Championship begun, but there was no drivers’ title until 1981. Solberg forebears switching from F1 to sports cars, for instance, would never have had the chance to win two different FIA championships.
Other championships for which the FIA is responsible include the World Rally Championship (which started in 1973), the World Touring Car Championship (a one-off in 1987 and re-instated in 2005) and the new-for-2014 World Rallycross Championship.
So while Solberg’s claiming of two different FIA world championships is significant, it’s also worth noting that, historically, opportunities to achieve the same haven’t always been available. Administration plays big part in the record.
But let’s not get too bogged down in the politics and instead enjoy the spectacle that is rallycross. If the FIA’s involvement raises the profile of this often-overlooked form of motorsport, that’s a good thing – right?