This year will usher in a new era of rallycross. As the world continues to move toward electric vehicles so too does the world of racing. Over five years ago, Olsbergs MSE (Olsberg Motorsport Evolution) CEO and Team Principal, Andreas Eriksson, saw the writing on the wall and began making plans that would change the industry of rallycross racing and entice a new generation of race fans who are currently growing up in the age of electric cars. To create the first electric rallycross car, Olsbergs MSE joined forces with Spanish electro mobility specialists, QEV Technologies. The collaborating companies created a vehicle that is now known as the RX2e. The RX2e boasts 335hp (250kW) of power and up to 376 lb-ft (510Nm) torque. The RX2e race series debuted with five rounds in July of 2021 as a support series to the FIA World Rallycross Championship. But Andreas Eriksson's goal of having the first competitive electric rallycross vehicle wasn't quite enough, he had bigger plans. Much bigger. As the RX2e series was launching, rallycross fans also got their first look at the car that would propel rallycross into a new era. That car was the FC1-X, the most powerful and the fastest rallycross car ever built. The FC1-X has significantly raised the bar in the world of racing.
Once again Andreas, via another one of his companies, First Corner-LLC, collaborated with QEV Technologies. Other collaborating partners for the FC1-X included and Nitro Rallycross. Rallycross360 saw this beast in person and after years of pushing back against the idea of not only electric cars in general but, most definitely, against electric race cars of any kind, we started to warm up to the idea and are actually looking forward to watching this car in action. We spoke with OMSE representative, Peter Lundgren, who is the executive for World Sport and Promotion AB, about the FC1-X. RX360: When did Andreas come up with the idea to build electric rallycross cars? PL: "Andreas had this in his head for many years but he realized, I would say, sometime around 2016-17, that the Supercar was at the end of their lifetime in their prospective development of the sport and he believed that electric would be the future. So he halted all production of the supercars and rally cars and put all investments into the electric car. He developed the platform, so the FC1-X is more of a platform than it is a car. The platform can be used by manufacturers to build their own car."
RX360: Andreas teamed up once again with QEV Technologies and Nitro Rallycross to create the FC1-X. What was the process in order to make the FC1-X viable? PL: "Andreas had two missions. The first being that Andreas didn't want to make the cars more expensive than supercars. If you have an unlimited budget, you can build anything you want. After talking with some manufacturers they kind of gave him some feedback and he realized that he had to keep the same budget as he does for a Supercar. Mission number two was that he had to keep the car lite. You can't make the car heavy. When you use batteries, it is a huge part of the weight. So in principle, the FC1-X is the same weight. Maybe a little heavier depending on how much battery we are using. "So that's where he started and the second part, or phase, was the design. It had to excel in every position. Andreas traveled all over the world to find supplies. He wanted the best transmission, best supplies for brakes, best supplies for batteries and top of the line when it came to converters. If he couldn't find the best supplies, he would start to develop them himself. He already had experience because of the development of the RX2e with the FIA World Rallycross Championship. He learned a lot from that and he could take that experience and do something new. One example is realizing that the air intake in the front of a combustion engine rallycross car, which is used to help cool down an engine, could actually be utilized in an FC1-X used to compress the front end, therefore giving maximum traction on the front tires. This is accomplished by allowing the dirt, gravel and mud to collect during the course of a race. So that front is important for the performance of the car. It is an integrated part of the platform. If a manufacturer wants to build around this platform they still have to keep this front because it's important for the control of the car. The wings are kind of oversized because it is really important to get the down pressure on the back tires. The wing is actually adjustable so that you can play with the down pressure. It's not just enough to have the gears for the electric side to get a fast car but it's also very important as to what inverters are used. Andreas has gone around the world finding out which are the best inverters and how to get out maximum voltage and power from the batteries."
RX360: What makes the FC1-X stand out among all other rallycross cars? PL: "The car is more than a thousand horsepower which is a lot and is much more than you will ever be able to use because of traction and where you are driving. Andreas has built the fastest rallycross car in existence. The car does 0-60 in 1.5 seconds and tops out at 289km/h (180mph). It is 30% faster than anything that exists today with 811lb-ft (1,100 Nm) of torque. "So we have the speed but Andreas also realized that he needed an electric car with gears so this is also the first electric car with a transmission. It has a single transmission in the front and three-speed transmission in the rear. "The converter is also very key. The Silicon Carbide converters are about one tenth the size, so they won't contribute as much to the weight of the car. "Inside the car the finish is 100% better than current rallycross cars. It has a nice finish with color a display which will give us the opportunity in the future to possibly have a function that will give the driver a 360 view around the car while driving. We have implemented the possibilities to do so in the future. "Also, the FC1-X is built with fossil free steel, carbon fiber and Kevlar so it will definitely be able to take punishment."
RX360: How long will it take to charge the cars? PL: The batteries will allow several heats before having to be charged. So depending on how much battery is used, I would say about 20 minutes. RX360: How would you compare FC1-X to other electric racing series such as ExtremeE and FormulaE? PL: "Formula E is more of a "contest" or "attempt" for sustainability. Formula One is not sustainable but is the fastest car at 360km/h (223mph) and is the top category of racing when it comes to money spent. So they created Formula E but Formula E doesn't go 360klm, it goes 280km/h (173mph). It's capped and can't go faster so that creates a problem for the fans. They expect something new to be better than they had. On top of that, they don't have the sound. "The ambition is there and the mission is there but at the end of the day it's about the racing. Formula E lost the fans when they didn't allow the car to go faster. People love the speed and the sound and they don't have the speed or sound so that is their biggest challenge. "Extreme E is more on a mission than there for racing. They have a closed circuit with female drivers as well as male drivers and focus on sustainability but that's not really what the fans are there for. They used a target group through motorsports at limited places but with a good mission."
RX360: Will the current Supercars and Lites eventually be phased out?
PL: "We still love the Supercar Lites and the Supercars and don't want those to go away, on the contrary. We want the FC1-X to be the hyper class or as it will be called, the Group E series, and for the industry to use it as a tool to introduce even more electric [racing]. But we still want the Supercar Lites and the Supercars. Andreas has introduced a new P1 fuel which is fossil free and is what everyone currently uses at each round. That is just one way to make the Supercars more acceptable going into the future."
Several teams have already bought the FC1-X's. Obviously, Olsbergs MSE will be racing them along with Vermont SportsCar, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Xite Energy Racing and Gronholm RX, just to name a few.
NRX has been putting substantial resources into rallycross and expanding internationally with some races next year being held in Europe and the Middle east. Fans will be treated to 10 races in 2022 and the plan is to increase beyond 10 races in the near future.