What if Citroën Racing and Sébastien Loeb took part in X-Games 2012, renewing his rivalry with former FIA World Rally Championship sparring partner Marcus Gronholm?
Add in legendary X-Games champions Travis Pastrana, Ken Block, Tanner Foust and up-and-coming British rallycross star Liam Doran and it already sounds like one of the must-watch motorsport events of the year.
The challenge was made by Travis Pastrana, who invited the eight-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb to come to Los Angeles and compete against him and the rest of the rallycross field at X Games.
On Thursday, Citroën issued a statement, saying that Loeb was accepting the challenge and will race at the X Games with a 545bhp Citroën DS3 ‘XL’. The ‘XL’ stands for “X Games” and “Loeb,” and the car was specially developed for the event.
“I love racing and I’m always interested in trying out new categories,” said the 38-year-old French legend. “A week after Rally New Zealand 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 Gronholm in a 545bhp Citroen DS3.”
Cyrille Jourdan, the lead engineer for the project at Citroën Racing, said that while the car looks similar to the car that Loeb drives in the WRC series, the top rally series in the world, there are some differences.
“Although the design of the chassis and suspension systems are fairly similar, the powertrain is fundamentally different,” Jourdan said. “The DS3 XL’s two-litre turbo engine develops 545bhp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Its acceleration isn’t far off that of an F1 car, covering 0 to 62 mph in 2.4 seconds!”
Since rallycross cars in the X Games contain just the driver, Citroen engineers have had to rework the car’s weight distribution, as Jourdan explained, “That’s why the water radiator has been moved into the boot. The main visual difference between the WRC and the XL is the addition of cooling vents in the rear wings. This alteration is designed to achieve improved performance at the start, which is the most crucial phase in rallycross.”
X Games starts on Friday 29th June, with coverage in the States on ESPN. We’re still waiting to hear which UK/European channels will broadcast the highlights.