Lancia Stratos V6

Long-time rallycross competitor John Cross is set to enter the Retro Rallycross Championship in an iconic Lancia Stratos. The experienced racer is hoping to join the grid from the next event at Lydden Hill on August Bank Holiday Monday (August 27).

Cross displayed his stunning new machine with Retro RX at Beaulieu earlier this month and is working around the clock to make it onto the grid at Lydden Hill, the birthplace of the sport over 51 years ago.

Made most famous in rallycross by Austrian Franz Wurz, who won the FIA European Rallycross Championship in a Stratos in 1976, the rear-wheel drive Italian car will be a welcome addition to the Retro RX field, which features an ever-increasingly eclectic field of period racers.

Choosing an ex-rally car on which to base his Retro Rallycross challenger, Cross has worked hard with established names in the sport, including engine tuner and five-time MSA British Rallycross Champion Julian Godfrey to work on the development of the V6 engine.

“I chose to build a car specifically to use in Retro Rallycross because it’s a great Championship, very well organised and a friendly group of people,” said Cross, who has recently returned to the sport after a period in circuit racing. Racing in the top-level Supercar class, Cross was a front-running competitor in British and European Championships.

“I wanted to find a car that was capable of taking on the likes of the (Barry Stewart’s) Porsche 911 and (James Harrold’s) Volkswagen Beetle. Looking back on my career, which began in 1975 in stage rallying, the Stratos won the world rally championship and at that time it was my dream car. When I was looking for a mid-engine car for Retro Rallycross my memories came back to me and realised that the Stratos would be the perfect choice,” he explained.

“In my search for a car I was fortunate enough to find an ex-rally car, the owner had originally planned to convert it back for road use I was lucky enough to acquire before he did that, to convert to rallycross spec. It came with an MSA competition log book and all other relevant paperwork and certificates as verification of its origin, which was important to me.”

If he can finish the car, which uses a Gemini gearbox and Ohlins suspension, in time for Lydden Hill in less than two weeks, Cross will also join Retro RX as part of the Rallycross Legends display at the French round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Loheac the following weekend (September 1–2).

“I’m reliant upon those working on various components to deliver on time at the moment, but fingers crossed we will get there. I will do the full Retro Rallycross Championship in 2019, and my aim is to get my hands on the John Button Memorial Trophy.”