Travis Pastrana’s Nitro Rallycross series just got a whole new lot of fans as former F1 Champion Jenson Button announced his drive in the sport for the 2022/23 Series.
Button, whose father John made his name in rallycross, has dabbled in off-road racing since his retirement from F1 at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
He contested the Baja 1000 in 2019, and raced for his own JBXE team in last year’s first round of the Extreme E series in Saudi Arabia.
The 42-year-old, who remains active in F1 as a senior advisor to the Williams team and a pundit for Sky Sports, has signed up to drive the Nitro series’ new electric-powered FC1-X racer alongside XE and Nitro Rallycross regular Oliver Bennett.
“I want to go racing,” said Button, who recently tested Bennett’s Ford Fiesta Supercar and the Mini Cooper he raced in last year’s Nitro RX series at Pembrey.
“I love racing, I love competing and I want to have fun.
“I’m looking forward to racing Nitro RX with Xite Energy – a team which has great experience of not just rallycross but also racing electric vehicles.
“And I get to race alongside my mate Oli. He’s a great character, great for the sport and comes with a lot of experience of competing on the dirt.
“Hopefully I can learn that side from him and he can learn from my circuit driving.
“It’s going to be a fun partnership, but I think it’s going to be a good partnership as well and hopefully we can take it to the big boys in rallycross.”
Nitro RX began last year with five races, all staged in the US and for Supercars using internal combustion engines.
The series will expand to 10 races – including three in Europe – for the 2022-23 campaign, with the first round at Lydden Hill on 18-19 June. Following trips to Sweden and Finland, it will conclude with seven further US events, with the season finale scheduled for next March.
The 800kW FC1-X machine, developed by Olsbergs MSE and QEV Technologies, made its global debut at the Race of Champions in February and will race in its own class rather than against Supercars.
Button explained that he was looking forward to continuing his “family connection with rallycross” and said he’d “like to emulate” what his father did in the discipline.
“That would be pretty special,” he said.
“Some of the jumps I’ll be flying over are extremely big and kind of scary, but that’s why it’s exciting to me as it’s a new challenge.
“Rallycross is night and day different to Formula 1 and that’s why I love it. I left F1 after 17 years because I wanted to try something new.
“I’m all about new challenges. I’m a racing driver, not a Formula 1 driver, so new challenges is what I’m all about.
“I felt I achieved what I needed to in Formula 1 so it’s nice to try different things.”
Bennett added that the pair had already “learned a fair bit from each other” and observed that Button had taken to the discipline “really quickly”.