Global Rallycross Experiences Incredible Growth Since Last Charlotte Visit
In May 2012, Global Rallycross made its inaugural visit to Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Marcus Gronholm kicked off the season right by scoring a victory over OlsbergsMSE teammate Tanner Foust and Stephan Verdier.
Just over a year later, the sport returns to North Carolina, having built successfully upon the foundations laid in that initial event.
Sure, most of the big names remain—Foust, Ken Block, Brian Deegan, and Travis Pastrana among them. But leading them all in the championship is Toomas Heikkinen, whose Charlotte race last year ended in disqualification after an incident with Dave Mirra. An afterthought for much of last season after missing two races due to injury, Heikkinen has won the past five GRC events and hopes to lock up the championship this weekend.
Manufacturers Ford, Subaru, and Dodge have been joined on the big stage by MINI, with a Prodrive-prepared Countryman campaigned by two-time X Games gold medalist Liam Doran. Doran earned his second gold medal in Munich earlier this season in the MINI’s race debut, and followed it up with silver the very next day. This weekend’s race will also see the long-awaited debut of Chevrolet in GRC, with a Sonic prepared by Pat Moro ready to take the fight to the competition.
Many series newcomers have seen opportunities to shine this season. Scott Speed won his inaugural rallycross event at X Games Brazil in the season opener, while 2006 Junior World Rally champion Patrik Sandell has earned two podium finishes on the way to a top five spot in points. GRC has also added the Supercar Lites class for young drivers, with Joni Wiman having won the inaugural event in New Hampshire in July and each race since.
Even the track itself in Charlotte has changed. Rather than the frontstretch of the 1.5-mile oval, Global Rallycross will utilize the adjacent Dirt Track at Charlotte facility, giving fans a chance to see what these 600 horsepower beasts can do on a loose surface.
Sure, there have been plenty of changes between the past two GRC events at Charlotte. But the most important characteristic still remains: an exciting show.
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