South African rally driver Ashley Haigh-Smith will make his World RX debut in an Olsbergs MSE Supercar at Gumtree World RX of South Africa, round 12 of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. Cape Town RX forms the final round of the World Championship and takes place at the Killarney International Raceway in two months’ time (11-12 November).
Haigh-Smith is the second South African to announce he will compete at his home event - two weeks ago Mark Cronje confirmed his Cape Town RX entry in an Albatec Racing prepared Peugeot 208 RX Supercar.
At just 25-years-old, Haigh-Smith has amassed plenty of experience behind the wheel having competed in the Junior World Rally Championship – the only South African driver to have done so - and he also holds the record as the youngest ever South African S1600 Champion. This year, he is competing in the French Peugeot 208 Rally Cup.
"I have always been interested in Rallycross, but when I was invited to the launch of the World Rallycross of South Africa in Cape Town earlier this year, it was like a switch was tripped and I could think of nothing else,” explained Haigh-Smith who was born and raised in Cape Town. "We have to be realistic about our objectives coming into the final event of the World RX season – the competition is incredibly strong. I will give my all and be relying on the deep experience and tactical support my race team OMSE will offer me.”
When talking about the home support, Haigh-Smith added: "I am a born and bred Capetonian, which makes this event extra special. Bringing World RX to South Africa is exactly what we need to boost motorsport here and get local fans excited again. It's a fantastic showcase for the talent we have on home soil. We have the ability to host world-class events, and RX will help boost the motorsport industry, local communities and the broader economy. World RX has already caused a huge media splash and is showing spectacular spectator growth around the world. It comes down to the action-packed racing on show, as well as just how up close and personal spectators can get with drivers and teams throughout the event.”
Haigh-Smith is due to test the Olsbergs MSE Supercar in Europe in the coming weeks, but admitted it would be a steep learning curve.
“There's so much to learn, but you can be sure I will give my all to represent South Africa and give fans something to cheer for. In the short time I have been committed to World RX, I want to thank OMSE, IMG and Killarney International Raceway who have been incredibly helpful in getting us prepared for the event. I also want to thank all who have been working behind the scenes to make this possible, I’m really privileged to have such a strong and supportive team behind me. I’m really pumped for November,” concluded Haigh-Smith.