Tag Archives: Nelson Piquet Jr.

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X Games Austin Invited Athletes Announced

Today ESPN has announced the first wave of athletes who will be invited to X Games Austin, including the drivers who have been invited to compete in the second round of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season.

The list includes numerous X Games veterans, including all-time leading X Games rally medalist Tanner Foust, former gold medal winners Travis Pastrana, Brian Deegan, and Scott Speed, and former GRC Lites drivers Joni Wiman and Austin Dyne. Of the drivers announced so far, 15 competed in GRC Supercars events at X Games last season.

Two female drivers will also make their X Games debut in Austin: drifting veteran Sarah Burgess and multiple New Zealand Rally Championship runner-up Emma Gilmour. They will become the first female athletes to compete in X Games rally events as drivers.

The full list of invited athletes is as follows:

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Global Rallycross Season Review: Nelson Piquet Jr.

After racing in everything from stock cars and trucks to Formula 1 cars, Nelson Piquet Jr. can easily call himself one of the world’s most versatile racers. But none of those cars can compare to his latest challenge: Global Rallycross.

Driving a Mitsubishi Evo for X Team Racing, Piquet made starts at Brazil, New Hampshire, Charlotte, and Las Vegas. The car was a fan favorite, but 2013 was a year of developing skills for Piquet, who proved at season’s end that he could contend for main event appearances.

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The season opener at X Games Brazil may have been Piquet’s best chance to make it to the main event, as he qualified an impressive fourth in his rallycross debut in front of his native country’s fans. Unfortunately, a jump start and last chance qualifier appearance followed, and he couldn’t beat Patrik Sandell or Buddy Rice for a transfer spot.

An uninspiring performance at New Hampshire followed, as the team swapped Munich pilot Guiga Spinelli for Piquet and struggled to find speed. He also couldn’t get into a rhythm at Charlotte, as other commitments rendered him unable to appear at the track until race day; in his stead, Jarit Johnson was drafted to shake down the car.

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Finally, everything appeared to come together in Las Vegas, as Piquet came out on the right side of a last chance qualifier battle with Sverre Isachsen. Unfortunately for Piquet, series officials judged him to have engaged in overly aggressive driving with the livid Norwegian, leading to a disqualification.

Any driver who makes it to racing’s upper echelons has an immense amount of talent, and both Piquet and his fans are well aware of that. 2013 was just a case of looking for the right combination of speed and luck, and only finding one or the other—an aberration given the Brazilian’s strong track record as a whole in his career.

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish (1, 3); QBA/QNIGAN.com (2)

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25 Days of GRC

For the past 25 days, we at Global Rallycross have been spotlighting some of the best stories of the 2013 season, both on and off the track, on our Instagram account under the hashtag #25DaysofGRC. Today, we recap all 25 story selections with this handy rundown.

Global Rallycross Starts the 2013 Season at X Games in Foz Do Iguacu, Brazil

FOZ DO IGUACU, BRAZIL (April 23, 2013) — Global Rallycross kicked off its nine-race 2013 season with a wildly popular and successful event at X Games Foz do Iguacu. The race, won by current NASCAR driver Scott Speed, featured one of the most talented and diverse fields in Global Rallycross history, and was acclaimed by fans and drivers alike as a strong season opener.

“The week was incredible from the atmosphere at the X Games to the energy in the paddock,” said Scott Speed, Global Rallycross gold medal winner at X Games Brazil. “The track was amazing. We found our line we needed to run early, where the grip was good, and most of the good guys knew where to find it. Winning gold was like a dream. I want to thank Rdio, X Games, and especially Global Rallycross for giving us a great event and race track to race on.

The weekend began with Friday practice, as drivers went out on the predominantly dirt-based track for the first time. Seeding followed on Saturday, with 2011 X Games Rally Car Racing gold medalist Liam Doran setting the fastest time over Speed and defending Global Rallycross champion Tanner Foust.

“It is great Global Rallycross has such a dynamic and talented field of drivers,” said Colin Dyne, Global Rallycross CEO. “With drivers from all different racing backgrounds, it allows for suspense as to which driver will use their particular skillset to outperform other competitors in the field.”

Competitors learned very quickly that throughout the weekend, they would have to constantly adapt to the changing track conditions, which made for exciting racing.

“I love the experience of driving these kinds of cars in these kind of races at these kind of tracks,” said Nelson Piquet Jr., driver of the X Team Racing Mitsubishi. “It is really competitive. Unfortunately I didn’t make the final, but it leaves me even more fired up for the next race.

Fords swept the four initial heat races on Sunday, with Toomas Heikkinen, Brian Deegan, Foust, and Speed each taking the checkered flag and one bonus point. In the last chance qualifier, 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and 2006 Junior World Rally champion Patrik Sandell earned the final transfer spots into the ten-car final.

“I’m super happy with my first experience and result in Global Rallycross at XGames Brazil,” said Patrik Sandell, driver of the No. 18 Ford Fiesta ST. “I just love this, the whole GRC concept, and I hope for a long and successful career here.”

In the final, Speed waited until the final lap to take his joker lap, using the shortcut to pass Heikkinen in the final corner and claim the victory in his first-ever rallycross start, while Heikkinen and Sandell completed the podium. Fords claimed the top five spots in the finishing order.

Watch X Games Global Rallycross Race Day recap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wLxCASm_xs

Watch Scott Speed’s post race interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cm7QFpl1kzQ

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  1. Scott Speed, #77 Rdio Ford Fiesta, OMSE2
  2. Toomas Heikkinen, #57 Bluebeam Ford Fiesta ST, OlsbergsMSE
  3. Patrik Sandell, #18 Ford EcoBoost Ford Fiesta ST, OlsbergsMSE
  4. Steve Arpin, #32 Royal Purple Ford Fiesta, OMSE2
  5. Brian Deegan, #38 Rockstar Energy Ford Fiesta ST, OlsbergsMSE
  6. Anton Marklund, #92 Victory Motorcycles Volkswagen Polo, Marklund Motorsport
  7. Travis Pastrana, #199 Red Bull/Discount Tire Dodge Dart, Pastrana Racing
  8. Tanner Foust, #34 Rockstar Energy/Eneos Oil Ford Fiesta ST, OlsbergsMSE
  9. Ken Block, #43 Monster Energy Ford Fiesta ST, Hoonigan Racing Division
  10. Buddy Rice, #29 Volkswagen Polo, Marklund Motorsport
  11. Nelson Piquet Jr., #12 Sky/Petrobras/Outback Mitsubishi Evo, X Team Racing
  12. Mauricio Neves, #13 Peugeot 207, XRC Team Brasil
  13. Liam Doran, #33 Monster Energy Citroen DS3, LD Motorsports
  14. Eduardo Marques Jr., #12A Peugeot 207, XRC Team Brasil
  15. Bryce Menzies, #99 Red Bull/America’s Tire Dodge Dart, Pastrana Racing

Photo credit: QBA/QNIGAN.com

Newcomers Dominate First Day of Global Rallycross Practice at X Games in Brazil

FOZ DO IGUACU, BRAZIL (April 19, 2013) — A quartet of newcomers to Global Rallycross dominated the first day of practice at the 2013 season opener at the X Games in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil.

Former Formula 1 and current NASCAR driver Scott Speed made his Global Rallycross debut in the #77 Ford Fiesta Star Car from Rdio and OMSE and was one of the newcomers to post a top-5 time.

“After my first lap I thought I wouldn’t make it around the track,” Speed said.  “However, by the end of the day, I really started feeling comfortable and had the most fun I’ve ever had on four-wheels.”

Three other Global Rallycross rookies to post impressive laps were Formula 1 and NASCAR competitor Nelson Piquet Jr. in the #12 Mitsubishi of X Team Racing; 2004 Indy 500 and 2009 24 Hours of Daytona winner Buddy Rice in the #29 Volkswagen of Marklund Motorsport; and Steve Arpin in the #32 Royal Purple Ford Fiesta of OMSE.

In addition to newcomers, the field for the Global Rallycross season opener includes two-time defending Global Rallycross champion Tanner Foust; 10-time X Games Gold Medalist and current NASCAR competitor Travis Pastrana; 2011 X Games Rally Car Racing Gold Medalist Liam Doran; World Rally Championship competitor Ken Block; and 2011 X Games Rallycross Gold Medalist Brian Deegan.

“We had a successful, safe, first day and everything went according to plan,” said Colin Dyne, Global Rallycross CEO.  “We look forward to an exciting weekend ahead and ending it with a successful race on Sunday.

Global Rallycross, which debuted at X Games 16 in Los Angeles in 2010, expanded nationally in 2012 and is holding its first international event this weekend. The race is scheduled for this Sunday, April 21, as part of X Games Foz do Iguacu.

Global Rallycross combines the best aspects of circuit racing, off-road racing and rally competition to deliver intense action in a fan-friendly environment.  Global Rallycross pits production-based, small cars against each other for door-to-door racing featuring elements such as dirt, asphalt and jumps.  Drivers progress through a series of heat races to advance into a final race, where winner takes all.

Path to Brazil: Getting To Know Nelson Piquet, Driver, X Team Racing

From open-wheel racing to stock cars, there’s not much that Nelson Piquet hasn’t found success in behind the wheel. From racing his way into the prestigious Formula 1, to reinventing himself as a successful NASCAR driver, Piquet is always focused, forever determined to be just a little bit better.

Those qualities will serve him well in his initial foray into Global Rallycross, where he will drive a Mitsubishi Evo prepared by X Team Racing. As he prepares to make his debut, he helped us get to know him better, both at and away from the race track:

If you weren’t a race car driver, what would you be?
I don’t know, maybe something to do with marketing or engineering. They’re the two subjects that I come across a lot during my career. So maybe one of those two, they’re the only ones that create a bit of interest.

What are your favorite hobbies away from the race track?
Lately I’ve been traveling so much, I hardly have time to do much. Usually when I have free time, I try to find more races to do, just because I think that’s part of my life. The more I do it, the more I practice, and the more I get involved, I think the better I can be. If I’m not in a race, if I’m not in the shop with the team working on the next race, I’m at the go-kart track. If I’m not at a race, I’m probably going to be in the airplane or having to rest at home, just to recover a bit more energy.

When I do have a bit more time—when I had the Truck schedule, which gave me a bit more time to do things, I did a triathlon, just to be a little bit more fit and to keep me motivated on the diet and working out. But with the schedule we have now, with races every weekend, it’s just racing, racing, racing. It’s sometimes very tough, but it keeps your mind only on one thing, and it gives you no time to lose focus.

Where do you go when you take a vacation?
The first time I spent a New Year’s celebration out of Brazil was this past year. Every year I would usually go to Brazil or be with my father. And it wasn’t the same vibe as when you’re in Brazil or when you’re with your family. So usually I’ll try to go down to Brazil, even if it’s just for a couple of days, or I’ll be with my father, just seeing him. Usually that’s the plan, seeing family and friends that I don’t see the whole year. You start getting old, friends start getting jobs, and vacations start getting shorter and shorter for everybody.

If you could describe yourself in only one word, what would it be?
Persistent. I’m very hard on myself, but I’m very persistent about what I do.

How do you prepare mentally for race day?
Before the race I just try to be relaxed and not think about anything. Usually I try to listen to music. It’s like watching a movie—when you watch a movie, you kind of forget about things, and you’re just paying attention to the movie. I listen to music, and sometimes it’s sort of the same thing. It gives you less of a chance to think about everything around. It kind of deletes everything around that’s happening and doesn’t give me a chance to worry about what’s not important.

What’s your favorite track that you’ve ever raced on?
Macau, Monaco, these two street courses are pretty amazing. It’s a tough one for drivers, because usually drivers are going to pick something they won or somewhere they did well, but I think these two are pretty amazing places to race that I really like.

What was the biggest victory of your career?
I think winning in Vegas last year was pretty special. Road America. I mean, a lot of the NASCAR wins I had last year were pretty big for me, because I had such a tough transition for me, coming from Europe over here without much support, sort of on my own. Every time I won last year was quite important for me, just to prove myself, to the fans, my sponsors, myself, my family. I think everything I’ve done here has been very important.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from another driver?
I think it’s probably the same advice I hear every time—not from guys that are racing, but from guys that were drivers. Don’t beat yourself up too much when you don’t win a race. Because I tend to be pretty hard on myself when things don’t go well.

What’s your favorite thing about your fanbase?
They’ll always be behind you no matter what. It’s amazing how you can, any time of the day, especially with social media stuff, speak to them or find them. They’re there cheering for you. Some of them dedicate their lives as well to see you, just to see races that you do. I’ve had fans in Europe from my Formula 3 days, and since I’ve come to America I’ve had fans over here that have done crazy things for me. Sometimes it’s difficult to treat them as a fan, because they’re so nice, and think it’s so good to see you. All the loyal fans I’ve had have been important to keep me motivated.

Path to Brazil: Meet Nelson Piquet Jr., Driver, X Team Racing

From European open-wheel racing to American stock car racing, there’s not much that Brazil’s Nelson Piquet Jr. hasn’t done. He’s reached the upper echelons of the former, spending two years in Formula One, and taken multiple victories in the latter, scoring victories in two of NASCAR’s top three series last year.

In 2013, Piquet will add another discipline to his resume, competing in Global Rallycross at X Games with X Team Racing in a Mitsubishi Evo. As he prepares to take on a brand new challenge, Piquet discussed his optimism for the sport’s growth and expectations for his debut:

What inspired you to try running in Global Rallycross alongside your NASCAR commitments?
The series is growing quickly, and it’s interesting, it’s fun. It’s not the usual rally from point A to point B, it’s a race track where you do laps and I think it’s a cool series, a cool concept. I wonder why it’s not something that grew up earlier.

How did you put this program together?
The only thing I did was to show interest to some of the guys that put this together. They knew that I liked it, and they knew that I would want to take part in it if they put something together. So the team put this together, gave me a call, and I said for sure I would do it.

 

How much rallycross testing have you done? Are you comfortable with the driving style?
I’ve never done it before, it’s going to be my first time.

 

You’ve run a lot of major races across the world before, from F1 to NASCAR. In terms of prestige, how does X Games compare?
It’s one of those races where I think it’s a series that’s still growing a lot. But I’m sure it’s something that’s going to grow much more than what it is. I think it terms of the name, it’s a big deal because it’s X Games. It’s like the Olympics, but it’s a different style of racing. I still think it’s a bit in the beginning, but in five years time I’m sure that it’s going to be so much tougher and harder than it is right now.

 

Is there something extra special about getting to make your Global Rallycross debut in Brazil?
Yeah, it’s always good to be part of these situations. It’s the first time Global Rallycross is in Brazil, and the beginning of their history. And it’s the first time a Brazilian car is in an event like this, so obviously it’s special to be a part of it.

 

When all is said and done, where do you expect to finish at X Games?
It’s difficult to say. I’d like to make the final, and then from the final, if we have a car that is good, I would hope to give the leaders a tough time, just because I think I have the car control. And I think that mostly that’s what it’s all about. I think the car control and having a good car makes a big difference, just because it’s a road course kind of track. It’s not exactly like a rally from plan A to plan B.