Teams Complete Weekday Test Sessions In Preparation For X Games Barcelona
With only a single day of track time—including practice, seeding, and the race itself—X Games Barcelona offers a unique challenge to the teams of Global Rallycross: trying to make the car as fast and driveable as possible in the shortest amount of time.
Those limitations inspired numerous teams to head out of the city over the course of the weekend, bringing their cars to various locations in order to experiment and gather data.
The biggest event, staged by Ford, took place at the Parcmotor circuit in Castelloli. Five Fiesta ST drivers, including Tanner Foust, Brian Deegan, Patrik Sandell, and Toomas Heikkinen of OlsbergsMSE and Ken Block of Hoonigan Racing Division, used the time both to shake down their cars and promote the race to the media.
“We were on kind of a large go-kart track that actually worked well for testing tight turns in the rallycross cars,” said Foust. “It was mainly a media event for Ford, and we gave many people rides. We didn’t really change the cars much because it was tarmac and it didn’t really affect how we would run the car here. But it showed us any weak links in the motor package and made sure the cars were running, and it was a ton of fun.”
“I did two days of testing and this media day all combined,” adds Block. “It was a very cool facility. I got to do some testing on a nice little kart track, and it was just trying to keep progressing the setup of what we have on our current car and test some things for launches, that type of stuff.”
“I just focused on myself and finding the speed in the car,” continued Sandell, “because the test was completely on tarmac and (the race) is completely on dirt. We just kept the setup we had from Brazil and tried to get the good feeling from the driver’s seat. I found a really good feeling, so I’m confident.”
But the Ford teams weren’t the only ones who took to the track to prepare for the tight Barcelona circuit. The Subaru PUMA Rallycross team, which will make its season debut on Sunday, sent all three of its cars to Circuit Can Padro.
“(We) took the first part of the day to go through all the cars, all the systems, and made sure everything was okay and ready for race day—that the cars are making full power and doing everything that they should,” said Clint Fast, team manager. “And we spent the second part of the day working on some things that we think are going to be important on this track. We all know that it’s going to be fairly low grip out there. The dirt is quite wet, the circuit is 90% dirt, which for us is a difference from last year, where we were 90% pavement. So we focused in on making the cars driveable in a low-grip situation.”
Meanwhile, Marklund Motorsport and Global Rallycross newcomer Carlos Sainz had their own test session in Lleida in order to prepare for Sunday’s race. Primary driver Anton Marklund served as one of Sainz’s engineers on the test and was pleased to report significant improvements.
“We were trying to get better suspension and more of the power in the ground in that test,” explained Marklund. “It was all gravel, and it was pretty loose, so I think it will be like here. We had two longer corners and a lot of hairpins. What we were without was the jump, but the car was jumping pretty good in Brazil, so I think the car will fit to this track.”
Marklund also praised Sainz, the two-time World Rally champion and 2010 Dakar Rally victor, on his ability to bring the car up to speed. “He has so much time in a rally car, and he’s so experienced, that he can really teach both me and the team a lot of stuff. He has worked with and developed the Polo WRC, so he knows how to get the car quicker and quicker.”