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Images from round four of the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship
NEWS

Interview: Liam Doran - Why you need to watch World RX

May 272019

Glorified, vilified, head-hunted by teams, and nearly everything in between. Liam Doran has been all of these things. If ever there was a driver to divide opinion in modern rallycross, it is surely the 32 year old from England.

What’s more, with British, European, and FIA World Rallycross podiums to his name, not to mention a lifetime involvement in the sport - there is arguably nobody better placed to get an insight on one of the most intense and action packed circuit racing disciplines on the modern motorsport stage.

Currently racing for the Monster Energy RX Cartel, alongside Andreas Bakkerud, Liam returns to full-time competition at a time of serious change for the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Manufacturer involvement peaked and crashed at the end of 2018, and when many thought the championship would flop in the face of electric powertrains, 2019 has yielded some of the most exciting racing in top level rallycross to date.

Read on to get the ultimate insight on one of modern rallycross’ most divisive drivers, as well as his thoughts on where the future of the World RX lies…

 

First off, what does World RX mean to you?

Rallycross is life to me; it’s everything in all honesty. I grew up around it, I race in it, and my family are involved with it. Now I’m bringing my kids and family around it too. It’s difficult to express just how big a part of my life rallycross is and has been.

How important is this season to you (and why)?

It’s extremely important. This year is my first full season back after some time off. It’s about proving to everyone - and more importantly myself - that I still have what’s required to compete at the highest level. Before I did some events with GCK last year I had effectively retired. I went and got a regular day job away from racing. It was like breaking the habit of a lifetime for me [not racing], and it felt like something was missing. The opportunity to get this - with the Monster Energy RX Cartel - is like a culmination of a ton of hopes and aspirations from past seasons.

How important are personalities in the sport?

Personalities keep sports interesting.. without them we’d end up with a grid full of drivers like in F1. All copies of each other, and scared to do something out of the ordinary. Who wants that? Personalities are what keep the fans watching!

What’s changed for you?

Having a real taste of loosing it all in 2016 had a big effect on me. I made mistakes then and I’ve been doing all I can since then to repair the damage. My family and kids have calmed me down a bit, and their support has made the difference. There was also the realisation that the sport was leaving me behind, a lot can change in a season, and when I got the opportunity with GCK last year brought me back up to speed. Honestly I thought I was done, but didn’t want to believe the reality of it. It’s fair to say a lot has changed!

Have you set career goals?

I come racing to win; it’s as simple as that. Success in the sport I love is the only way forward.

Why should people care about World RX?

I think a lot of people don't realise how long rallycross has been around. The World Championship is still relatively new in motorsport terms when you compare it something like F1, but there’s a huge amount of heritage and history with the sport - real roots. It’s not just a gimmick. What’s more rallycross is changing and evolving all the time; thats more than can be said for other championships. I think in a lot of ways people expected World RX to flop this year - but actually it’s given some of the most exciting racing I’ve seen yet. The action is in your face at rallycross, it’s awesome to watch; so people should definitely care!

What about loosing the manufacturers?

You know in a way loosing the manufacturers brought life back to the sport. The teams that are racing now, really want to be here, and do it because they love racing and they love the sport. It isn't just about drivers and manufacturers going to race because someone is cutting a cheque. That’s a rare thing in motorsport - and in principle you cant ask for more than that in any sport…

What would you change about World RX?

Track design is a big one - we’ve had some amazing new circuits and some not so great ones. Getting the teams and drivers more involved in that would be a good start. The points structure is a tough one too - if you don't qualify well then you loose out on championship points. It’s possible to finish ahead of someone in the finals and they score more points than you. How about going back to Lydden Hill as well?!

Whats the best thing about World RX?

Rallycross is like no other motorsport. The noise, the atmosphere, even the smell - its all a raw experience for everyone involved. The vibe from the fans with an open paddock is always very special too and that creates something I haven’t experienced in other championships.

Where do you see the future of the sport?

Rallycross isn't going away - that’s for sure. Like I said, a lot of people expected it to flop this season and it hasn’t. The discussion of electric is still there - yes the cars will be quick - but where’s the edge? The flames, the noise… who wants to race a battery powered hairdryer anyway, right?!

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