The Fiat 500X R4 model will make its World Rally Championship (WRC) debut on the first appointment of the 2020 calendar: The Rally of Montecarlo, which is to take place between the 22nd and the 26th of January.
Making the announcement was non-other than Raphaël Astier, the French driver who will be taking the wheel of the Italian missile at the French Alps. The new model will compete in the formerly known R4 category, now Rally2 kit.
In that legendary appointment, the Fiat 500X R4 belonging to Team Milano Racing will come head to head with the Dacia Sandero R4 of ASM Motorsport, a worthy rival for the new category. We are looking forward to seeing what happens when those two rivals go on the track as both have been developed using a conversion kit from French specialist Oreca.
The partnership between Milano Racing and Oreca
Born from the collaboration between Milano Racing and Oreca Technology, the Fiat 500X R4 has the Rally 4 kit which means it can take part in all national and regional competitions.
With their sights set on the French Rallyes de Terre and European Rally Championships (ERC), both partners have created a product that perfectly adapts to their specifications.
The French Automobile Federation, therefore, decided to include the car in the R4 category of the French Rallyes de Terre Championship since 2019, as well as in their Tarmac Championship and in the Coupe de France des Rallyes.
The 9-month-old Fiat 500 X R4
Up until now, and because of the FIA’s veto from the WRC, the Fiat 500X R4 has only been competing in the French national championships. It made its debut in April at the Rallye Terre des Causses 2019, and it participated in a total of twelve races within the championship.
Since then, its best result has been a second place at the Rallye Régional du Pays Vençois 2019, by the hand of Nicolas Ciamin. The model has also suffered a few technical issues, not unusual in a vehicle so young, which have meant it has had to retire on three occasions.
Raphaël Astier, the 500 X R4’s driver for the WRC
After the car’s first steps in the racing world, Raphaël Astier will be in charge of taking the Fiat 500X R4 for its debut at the WRC. That initial race, a classic of the championship, will be precisely second WRC participation for the driver from Alès. The first time took place two years ago in 2017 at ‘El Monte’ on board a Peugeot 208 R2.
That would also be his second time competing at the wheel of the Fiat 500X R4, after doing so at the Rallycircuit Cote d’Azur at Paul Ricard. On that occasion, and with co-pilot Frédéric Vauclare, he finished tenth at four minute and twenty seconds from the winner, Mercedes’ Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas and his Citroën DS3 from PH Sport.
With this new sporting adventure, Astier tightens its already close professional relationship with the Milano Racing squad. Amongst the many races he has competed on defending the colours of the team have been the FIA R-GT Cup in 2018 with an Abarth 124 R-GT.
The 28-year-old French racer has taken part in 70 races in his career, 12 of them last season when he obtained his best result with a third-place at the Rallye d’Antibes – Côte d’Azur. From when he started racing at the French Tarmac Rallies, the Frenchman has accrued a total of 94 points.
Images of Fiat 500X R4: Team Milano Racing.