Global Rallycross Race Preview: Las Vegas Strip
IN BRIEF: The 2013 Global Rallycross season concludes on the Las Vegas Strip, marking the second consecutive season that GRC ends up under the bright city lights. Newly crowned series champion Toomas Heikkinen will attempt to earn his unprecedented sixth win of the season.
TUNE IN INFORMATION:
- Thursday, November 7, 7:00PM ET on ESPN2 (Live)
SPOTTER GUIDE/DRIVER STATS: CLICK HERE for the full entry list.
LIVE TIMING: CLICK HERE for Live Timing
LAST RACE: After nearly three long months, a driver was finally able to end Toomas Heikkinen’s reign atop the Global Rallycross podium. Racing in front of friends and family in his hometown, Scott Speed took his second victory of 2013 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, beating Brian Deegan and Heikkinen to the finish. However, Heikkinen still clinched the championship with a 50-point lead heading into the season finale.
DRIVER CHANGES: After a significant shake-up to the entry list in Charlotte, all 15 drivers from the previous event will return to competition in Las Vegas. They will be joined by a single addition: Rhys Millen, who will return to his Hyundai Veloster as a teammate to Stephan Verdier for the first time since this race last year. Millen’s lone start of the season thus far saw him finish fourth at X Games Los Angeles.
THE TRACK: This year’s Las Vegas layout contains many similarities to the layout that Global Rallycross used last year, including a wide start and long straightaway into the first corner. The paved section features two sweeping corners into a hairpin, before drivers encounter the jump and joker lane in the dirt section. The final corner is a wide right hander, taking drivers past the start-finish line at speed.
BIG NAMES STILL LOOKING FOR FIRST WIN OF 2013: Only three drivers—Toomas Heikkinen, Scott Speed, and Liam Doran—have scored victories in the 2013 Global Rallycross season, leaving numerous big names fighting to stave off winless seasons. Defending Las Vegas race winner Tanner Foust, 2012 championship runner-up Brian Deegan, 2012 New Hampshire victor Travis Pastrana, and nine-time 2013 heat winner Ken Block are among those searching for the top step of the podium this year. It would have been almost unfathomable at the start of the year, but all four may go winless if they don’t get lucky in Las Vegas.
THE RACE FOR SECOND: Though Toomas Heikkinen has the 2013 Global Rallycross Supercars title locked up, four drivers can mathematically leave Las Vegas with second place in the season standings. Tanner Foust currently holds the spot by two points over Brian Deegan, while Ken Block lurks in the shadows at 11 points behind Foust. Even Scott Speed, at 20 points behind second place, can earn the runner-up position with a victory and some unfortunate luck for his competitors.
MILLEN RETURNS TO RALLYCROSS: Rhys Millen, who fielded a car for Stephan Verdier in the previous GRC event at Charlotte, will return to the series in Las Vegas, where he finished third last season. Millen has been active in Global Rallycross since the sport’s inaugural season, debuting his Hyundai Veloster in 2011 finishing tied for third in the 2012 standings. This year, Millen earned a runner-up finish in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and filmed the television special “Driven: A Race Without Boundaries” before competing at X Games Los Angeles, where he finished fourth in his lone start of 2013 so far.
QUOTES: A selection of quotes in advance of Thursday’s Global Rallycross event on the Las Vegas Strip:
Patrik Sandell, Driver, #18 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST: “My first contact with Global Rallycross was here one year ago. Before then, I had only been racing stage rally, but when I came here and saw this I realized this was the place to be. I’m completely focused on trying to win the last race—I like the whole track. One thing that’s good is that the first turn is quite fast, so I think it will be quite a fair race without a crash in the first corner. That’s good for me, because when I’m free I can go fast!”
Scott Speed, Driver, #77 OMSE2 Ford Fiesta: “The track looks amazing. It’s the best one we’ve had all year! I’m super excited to run here in the heart of Las Vegas.”
Steve Arpin, Driver, #32 OMSE2 Ford Fiesta: “Coming to Vegas, I’m not sure if I’m more excited about coming to Vegas and seeing how awesome the track is going to be, or bummed out that this is the end of the season. Looking at the track yesterday, walking around it, I didn’t sleep at all last night—I was like a little kid waiting for Santa to come thinking about getting out there. It’s going to be so fast and so much fun, and there are so many opportunities to race, to pass, and to try different lines and techniques.”
- Toomas Heikkinen, 154
- Tanner Foust, 104
- Brian Deegan, 102
- Ken Block, 93
- Scott Speed, 84
- Ford, 303
- Subaru, 131
- Dodge, 106
Photo credit: Tom Donoghue