Fresh from scoring a podium result at his very first international rallycross event in Sweden, Rotorua’s Sloan Cox has another opportunity to race overseas with an invitation to compete in the 2018 Australian Rallycross Series (RXAus).
Cox is the first New Zealander to be accepted into the RX Academy in Finland, run by a highly-regarded European rallycross operation SET Promotions.
For the rally-turned-rallycross-driver, seat time and more rallycross competition experience are key aspects of his new motorsport career direction.
Cox talked with Rallycross Australia director Justin Dowell, who heads the RXAus operation, before he applied for the Academy.
“Justin was really helpful when we discussed my new direction, suggesting that there was also plenty of experience to be gained by contesting the Australian series,” says the 26-year-old.
“Now that I’m doing the five-round RX Academy series in Scandinavia alongside Justin’s son Troy, Justin came to us with an offer to lease a front-wheel-drive Fiesta and do the second round of their series at the end of May. The Fiesta is quite similar to the FWD Renault Clio I use for the RX Academy, being 1600cc and turbo-charged, with a sequential gearbox, so that fits well with building more experience in a turbocharged FWD car before I go back to Finland for the second round there in June.”
Having never competed in a FWD car during his rallying in New Zealand, Cox isn’t underestimating the value of further developing his understanding of how these cars handle on the mixed tarmac and gravel surfaces of a rallycross circuit.
The RXAus event – the second in a seven round series – takes place at the Marulan Dirt and Tar Circuits near Goulburn in New South Wales where Cox will line up against a strong field for practice and qualifying sessions, heat races and a final 6-lap race.
Having just returned from nearly a month in Scandinavia, Cox is rapt with the decision to tackle rallycross at an international level. “The RX Academy team is fantastic and they want to see you succeed. I’m the oldest of the eight RX Academy competitors, but that doesn’t worry me. The biggest hurdle is the distance to travel to compete, but I can definitely see a future in it.”
Cox made the most of all aspects of his first stint with the RX Academy, which concluded with a team visit to the FIA World Rallycross Championship event in Belgium on 13 May. “The World RX round was amazing. The competitors were so relaxed and great to talk with. SET Promotions also run several competitors at World RX level so we were able to get a good look behind the scenes. The whole event was action-packed and attracted big crowds even on Friday during practice. The Europeans really support their motorsport!”
The winner of this year’s RX Academy gets a fully-funded drive in five European races in the RX2 International Series or a full season in the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Super1600. Cox certainly has his eye on the prize but says it’s not the only option he’s working on to take his rallycross aspirations further in the future. “It’s really about how much you want it. Rallycross takes a different mindset and approach to rallying. Just think about six cars all racing into the first corner – not all are going to make it through, so I’m constantly thinking about race strategies and how I might apply them. This opportunity to race in Australia is going to be great as I keep building my experience.”
Following the Australian event, Cox heads back to Finland for three more RX Academy rounds – 16 June (Honkajoki), 11 August (Jalasjärvi) and 25 August (Kouvola), before the season concludes on 7 October at Tierps in Sweden.
Cox’s 2018 rallycross campaign is supported by Taslo Engineering, AJ’s Emporium, Driveline Automotive, Signedge and Teng Tools. Follow the news and action on Facebook: Sloan Cox Motorsport Ltd or RX Academy.
by Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications