That started to change when series organizers managed to attract former F1 champ Jacques Villeneuve to compete in the series, and kicked into high gear when Ken Block signed on as well. But if there were any doubts still lingering as to the grid which the World Rallycross Championship has in store for fans around the world, let them be put to rest with the announcement that Tanner Foust is joining the ranks as well. A household name in sideways driving if we've ever seen one Foust is a two-time Formula Drift champion, X Games gold medalist, Top Gear USA co-host and – most crucially – has twice been crowned champion of the Global RallyCross series.
Though Tanner has typically driven Ford racers, he'll be piloting a specially prepared Volkswagen Polo in the World Rallycross Championship. His entry is being fielded by Swedish outfit Marklund Motorsport and will include the rounds at Lydden Hill in the UK, Kouvola in Finland, Trois-Rivieres in the Canadian province of Quebec and Istanbul in Turkey. It's at the latter where he's expected to show down against Block in what promises to be an epic battle for rallycross supremacy.
American Top Gear presenter and 10-time X Games medallist Tanner Foust has announced he will compete in four rounds of this year's FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy.
Foust – who will pair with Sweden's Marklund Motorsport to drive a Polo RX Supercar – will kickstart his World RX campaign at Lydden Hill in the UK from 3-4 May, but will also compete in Kouvola, Finland (28-28 June), Trois-Rivieres, Canada (7-8 August) and Istanbul, Turkey (11-12 October).
The eagerly-anticipated news that Foust will join World RX follows hot on the heels of last week's announcement that fellow American Ken Block will also compete in selected rounds of this year's Championship. With both American stars set to take on the all-new round at Istanbul in November, the scene is set for an enthralling penultimate round of the season.
Following today's announcement, Foust commented: "I'm looking forward to being able to run some international races in the new FIA World Rallycross Championship this year. It's been amazing to be a part of rallycross as it has grown over the past few years and I can't wait to get back out there and race in 2014."
Martin Anayi, Managing Director of World RX for IMG Motorsport – a division of IMG, the global sport, fashion and media company – spoke of the benefits that an experienced rallycross driver such as Foust would bring to the Championship.
"When it comes to rallycross, Tanner is one of the most experienced drivers out there," explained Anayi. "He won two rounds of our Championship [Lydden and Kouvala] when it was part of the European series last year and there's no doubt Tanner will be eager to add some World RX victories to his ever-growing resume of event victories. His enthusiasm and passion for the sport shines through and his experience of the sport will be invaluable in 2014 as our series makes its mark on the world stage for the first time."
Jan Marklund, team owner of Marklund Motorsport who recently announced a three-year partnership with Volkswagen Motorsport in World RX, added: "Integrating a driver as talented as Tanner into our programme is going to be incredibly exciting for Marklund Motorsport. Tanner's record behind the wheel is excellent and it will be great to get his thoughts on the development of the car - especially as we now have our partnership with Volkswagen Motorsport."
Foust is a two-time champion in the American-based Global Rallycross Championship and has also racked up 10 medals in the coveted X Games series. He is also a three-time American rallycross champion and a two-time Formula Drift championship winner. At home, Foust has been a dominant driver in rallycross since it was first introduced to America in 2010.
When he's not racing, Foust is an on-air host for the American version of the BBC show Top Gear, produced by BBC Worldwide Productions and airing on the HISTORY channel.
Foust also handles stunt driving in numerous films, TV shows and commercials. He is featured as a stunt driver in the upcoming Need 4 Speed film, as well as other major releases including the Bourne Legacy, Bourne Ultimatum, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, Dukes of Hazzard, Red Dawn and Iron Man 2 movies.