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Global Rallycross/GRC Lites Checkpoint: Las Vegas Strip

November 7, 2013

IN BRIEF: Global Rallycross Supercars and GRC Lites completed practice, seeding, and their first set of heat races for this week’s season finale on the Las Vegas Strip. The two-day event will resume on Thursday, November 7, with the finals for both classes.

SUPERCARS PRACTICE AND SEEDING: Dave Mirra and Scott Speed led the two practice sessions, respectively, but Mirra’s speed would come at a heavy cost: a terminal engine failure that ended his weekend in earnest before it had a chance to start. It was defending event winner Tanner Foust who took the top position in seeding, followed by four more Fords belonging to Speed, Ken Block, Toomas Heikkinen, and Brian Deegan.

GRC LITES PRACTICE AND SEEDING: Joni Wiman and Sebastian Eriksson came out on top of the two practice sessions, respectively, as their fight for first place resumes. Eriksson carried that momentum into seeding, where he beat Wiman for top honors.

SUPERCARS HEATS: With engine failures prevalent, Supercars heat 1A became a duel between the victorious Foust and Sverre Isachsen. Heikkinen beat Deegan and Pat Moro in heat 1B, Block defeated Bucky Lasek, Stephan Verdier, and Travis Pastrana in heat 1C, and Scott Speed beat Rhys Millen, Nelson Piquet Jr., and Bryce Menzies in heat 1D, to complete a clean sweep of Wednesday’s heats for Ford.

GRC LITES HEATS: Sebastian Eriksson carried his momentum into a dominant victory in Lites heat 1A, with Mitchell deJong barely stealing second place from series newcomer Eric Faren in the final corner, Alexander Westlund in fourth, and Brent Lee in fifth. Heat 1B, meanwhile, went to Wiman over a hard-charging Kevin Eriksson, Geoff Sykes, Tyler Benson, and Austin Dyne.

NEWS AND NOTES: More stories from day one of Global Rallycross competition on the Las Vegas Strip:

  • The only significant incident of the day belonged to Bryce Menzies, whose #99 Pastrana Racing Dodge Dart suffered an incident in early practice. The damage to the right front was too significant for Menzies to post a lap in seeding, but he returned in time to compete in Supercars heat 1D.
  • Besides Mirra’s terminal engine failure, Steve Arpin and Patrik Sandell both failed to make it to the grid for their respective heat races due to engine troubles. Both Arpin and Sandell are still hoping to compete in Thursday’s heats after engine rebuilds.
  • Tanner Foust announced a new sponsorship and technical partnership with NAPA Chassis for the 2014 season. The deal will see Foust work with NAPA to further develop hardware and engineering on his #34 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST, and includes branding on the hood and front fenders of the car.
  • Ken Block’s 10th heat win of the 2013 season guarantees that no driver will exceed his heat victory total this year. Block is 10 for 12 in heats, posting a whopping 83.3% success rate.

QUOTES: A selection of quotes from the first day of competition in the Global Rallycross season finale on the Las Vegas Strip:

Tanner Foust, Driver, #34 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST:  “Maybe I’ve paid my dues to Vegas, and I’m just getting paid back here. This particular track is a bit of a road racing track, so I’ve looked to Scott Speed. I came from a road racing background, but I don’t have any experience compared to Speed, so it’s great to see his lines and talk setup with him. It’s not what the cars are made for—they don’t ‘like’ it. The tracks where there’s a lot of jumping and sliding, they love it, so it takes a little bit of convincing to get it to do what you want it to do. Then it’s about carrying momentum.”

Scott Speed, Driver, #77 OMSE2 Ford Fiesta: “(The key to) this track is tire management, which is in my racing background. But it’s not so complicated, and our cars are good, so it runs good. We should win our heat races, because we’re racing against guys who are slower than us. If we can’t win our heat race, then we’re going to have a hard time beating the other guys.”

Ken Block, Driver, #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST:  “I did have a pretty good day today, but I got beat by Tanner and Speed. Those guys are just a little bit more of tarmac experts than me. I enjoy the track, but I think when there’s more dirt on the track I excel even better, because it’s my specialty. I’ve qualified first four out of nine times this year, and I’ve won the most heat races of everybody, but today I qualified third, which means if everything goes to plan I’ll still be third on the final grid. It’s a fun track, and the facility here is great—last year was nice but this is a big step up.”

Bucky Lasek, Driver, #81 Subaru PUMA Rallycross WRX STI: “Being the fastest non-Blue Oval car has definitely been the highlight of my day. I think once the racing starts, we race better than we qualify, so it’s definitely going to be a good day for Subaru. (The track) is kind of challenging because it sets you up to slide, and everyone knows that sliding is slow. There are three spots on this track that our car is struggling with, turning at a tight radius and getting grip out of it, but we make up for it on the longer turns. With the bigger wheelbase, I think we’re able to make it stick. It’s give and take right now. It looks like everyone’s race craft is on point, so it should be a good race tomorrow.”

Rhys Millen, Driver, #67 Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster: “This pavement is interesting. It’s very aggressive on tire wear, but it’s also very rich in oil content, which makes it slippery, so it took us a little bit to find the balance of the car. The cars may have more traction than most in the dirt, so we were hoping for a little more dirt than we have, but it’s the challenges of motorsport—you have to adapt, and I think we’ve adapted very well to the weekend.”

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish