Tag Archives: Scott Speed

Review-SC-SpeedFeatured

GRC Supercars Season Review: Scott Speed

If there’s a single driver in motorsports who has been racking up the frequent flyer miles over the past few years, it’s Scott Speed. After leaving Formula 1 for a return home to the United States, Speed has driven in everything from NASCAR to IndyCar, but nowhere has he seen more success than his debut season in Global Rallycross.

It took a single race for the open-wheel and stock car transplant to find the top step of the GRC podium, as Speed took the gold medal at X Games Brazil. Originally enlisted to appear solely in Brazil as part of a one-off deal, Speed’s performance impressed so many that he was given a deal to compete in all nine races.

The highs were high: a second win at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, a home race for Speed and his family, and five heat victories over the course of the season to go with his gold medal.

But the lows were similarly low: missing the final in Munich and Bristol, a struggle to make it to the final in Los Angeles, and pulling off early in the Las Vegas season finale when most of his rivals conceded that his road racing skills made him the driver to beat.

Review-SC-SpeedFeatured2

“In these things, you can be fast—we were pretty fast at Bristol but we didn’t even make the final—so you’ve got to be lucky not to get in any crashes,” Speed said after his second victory of the year. “We stayed out of trouble and got lucky (in Charlotte).”

Lucky or unlucky, it’s hard not to be impressed with the way Speed adapted to yet another form of motorsport.

Interestingly enough, while the majority of his background saw him compete on paved tracks, Speed’s two race victories came on tracks that were almost completely comprised of loose surface material. But his road racing background shone through on the speed charts, as a third seed in Los Angeles and second seed in Las Vegas proved that he could adapt smooth racing lines and tire management to rallycross.

Review-SC-SpeedFeatured3

It will be interesting to see if Speed can replicate his initial success in 2014. While two victories and fifth place in his rookie season are nothing to be ashamed of, any driver to make his way to Formula 1 won’t be satisfied with anything less than a championship trophy on his bookshelf at home. So should be Speed in 2014.

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

20131125-KartDriversEarnGRCLitesTests

Three Drivers Earn GRC Lites Tests With SKUSA SuperNationals Results

Andrew Wiener, Nick Neri, and Jess Peterson each earned an opportunity to test a GRC Lites car with OlsbergsMSE after impressive performances at this weekend’s SuperKarts! USA SuperNationals event in Las Vegas. Brad Manka, the 2013 GRC Lites Mechanic of the Year, led the selection process, with the help of two-time GRC race winner and three-time SuperNationals winner Scott Speed.

Peterson, a native of Sparks, NV, and Wiener, from Chula Vista, CA, competed against one another in the TaG-Senior class, with Peterson taking fourth place in the main event. Neri, a native of Palmetto, FL, finished second in the S1 main event this year in his return to the event; he took the SuperNationals victory in the S2 class in 2011.

“We chose the drivers who earned the scholarship based on several things,” said Manka. “Obviously, they had to be fast, but we didn’t just pick the winner of the class because it doesn’t always tell the whole story. All of these guys ran very fast laps, and came through traffic cleanly. They showed very good race craft.”

2013 represents the 17th running of the SKUSA SuperNationals, which attracted over 600 entries across numerous classes. Numerous drivers with ties to Global Rallycross entered the event, including Speed and Nelson Piquet Jr., as well as Parker Thompson and Alejo Fernandez, who tested GRC Lites in early November and competed for a team led by former Indianapolis 500 winner and 2013 X Games Brazil competitor Buddy Rice.

Photo credit: Liza Markle

Recap-SupercarsFeatured2

By the Numbers: 2013 Global Rallycross Season

With the 2013 Global Rallycross season now a memory, it’s time to look back on the nine-race season and recognize some of the statistical outperformers in the Supercar class.

IT ALL STARTS IN SEEDING: Earning a top spot in seeding doesn’t guarantee a driver a victory in the main event, but qualifying well certainly helps. No matter the stat—whether it’s average starting spot or most top seeds—Ken Block is at the top of the list:

Average Start:

Top Seeds Earned:

Top10-10HeikkinenFeatured

HEATING UP: The Supercars class ran a total of 45 heats this season, with each driver having up to 13 opportunities to earn a bonus point. Once again, Block was the class of the field in that regard:

Heat Victories Earned:

Block’s only two heat losses came in Brazil, where he finished second to Toomas Heikkinen, and in the second Munich race, where Liam Doran beat him. Still, Block’s performance was so strong in the heats that he was the only full-time driver not to appear in a last chance qualifier in 2013.

Features-PastranaFeatured

MOVING UP THE FIELD: An underwhelming performance in seeding didn’t mean a driver couldn’t score a good finish at the end of the race. In fact, Travis Pastrana made a habit of finishing much better than he started, and moving up the field was a crucial part of Toomas Heikkinen’s championship run as well:

Plus/Minus (cumulative finishing positions gained from seeding result):

DRIVER OR CAR?: Not every Supercars team was fortunate enough to have the same driver in the car for each race in 2013. But while a driver rotation didn’t help a team’s efforts at consistency, by no means did it keep a team from scoring strong finishes. In fact, five of the 15 top cars in Global Rallycross this season, noted below in italics, saw multiple drivers behind the wheel, with the #199 Dodge Dart of Travis Pastrana and Timur Timerzyanov best among them:

  1. #57 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST, 169 points
  2. #34 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST, 123
  3. #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST, 115
  4. #38 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST, 106
  5. #77 OMSE2 Ford Fiesta, 94
  6. #199 Pastrana Racing Dodge Dart, 90
  7. #18 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST, 89
  8. #11 Subaru PUMA Rallycross WRX STI, 86
  9. #32 OMSE2 Ford Fiesta, 79
  10. #33/40 LD Motorsports/Prodrive MINI Countryman, 64
  11. #81 Subaru PUMA Rallycross WRX STI, 49
  12. #99 Pastrana Racing Dodge Dart, 42
  13. #29 Marklund Motorsport Volkswagen Polo, 33
  14. #40 Subaru PUMA Rallycross WRX STI, 31
  15. #12 X Team Racing Mitsubishi Evo, 31

Recap-SupercarsFeatured2

FULL STATISTICS: Advanced statistics for each driver to compete in more than half of the Supercars races in 2013:

 

Driver Starts Wins Pts. (Per Race) Heat Wins (Pct.) LCQs (Pct.) Finals Made (Pct.) Avg. St. Avg. Fin.
Steve Arpin
#32 OMSE2
9 0 79
(8.8)
0/13 (0%) 1/4 (25%) 6/9 (66%) 7.56 8.22
Ken Block
#43 Hoonigan Racing
9 1 115 (12.8) 11/13 (85%) 0/0 (N/A) 9/9 (100%) 3.22 6.33
Brian Deegan
#38 OlsbergsMSE
9 0 106 (11.8) 4/13 (31%) 1/2 (50%) 8/9 (88%) 4.33 6.11
Liam Doran
#33 LD Motorsports
5 1 59 (11.8) 3/6 (50%) 0/1 (0%) 4/5 (80%) 3.80 7.00
Tanner Foust
#34 OlsbergsMSE
9 0 123 (13.6) 7/13 (54%) 1/2 (50%) 8/9 (88%) 5.56 4.89
Toomas Heikkinen
#57 OlsbergsMSE
9 5 169 (18.8) 9/13 (69%) 1/1 (100%) 9/9 (100%) 4.11 1.89
Sverre Isachsen
#11 Subaru PUMA
8 0 86 (10.8) 2/12 (16%) 2/3 (66%) 7/8 (87%) 6.25 6.75
Bucky Lasek
#81 Subaru PUMA
8 0 49
(6.1)
0/12 (0%) 1/7 (14%) 2/8 (25%) 11.12 10.87
Bryce Menzies
#99 Pastrana Racing
8 0 35
(4.4)
0/11 (0%) 0/7 (0%) 1/8 (12%) 12.62 12.62
Dave Mirra
#40 Subaru PUMA
#40 Prodrive
7 0 36
(5.1)
0/10 (0%) 1/7 (14%) 1/7 (14%) 11.28 11.86
Travis Pastrana
#199 Pastrana Racing
5 0 56 (11.2) 1/7 (14%) 1/1 (100%) 5/5 (100%) 11.40 6.20
Patrik Sandell
#18 OlsbergsMSE
9 0 89
(9.9)
2/13 (15%) 1/4 (25%) 6/9 (66%) 6.78 7.67
Scott Speed
#77 OMSE2
9 2 94 (10.4) 5/13 (38%) 3/5 (60%) 7/9 (77%) 7.78 8.00
Timur Timerzyanov
#199 Pastrana Racing
#29 Marklund Motorsport
5 0 34
(6.8)
0/7 (0%) 3/5 (60%) 3/5 (60%) 8.80 10.40

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

CheckpointFeatured

Global Rallycross/GRC Lites Checkpoint: Las Vegas Strip

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:

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

Preview-SupercarsFeatured

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:

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.”

DRIVER POINTS:

  1. Toomas Heikkinen, 154
  2. Tanner Foust, 104
  3. Brian Deegan, 102
  4. Ken Block, 93
  5. Scott Speed, 84

MANUFACTURER POINTS:

  1. Ford, 303
  2. Subaru, 131
  3. Dodge, 106

Photo credit: Tom Donoghue

Top10-7SpeedFeatured

Top 10 GRC Moments: Speed Wins in Truly Global Debut

In anticipation of the 2013 Global Rallycross season finale, held on the Las Vegas Strip on November 6-7, Global-Rallycross.com looks back on the 10 most significant events in the series’ three-year history. These stories will appear on Global-Rallycross.com once a day from Monday-Friday on the weeks of October 21-25 and October 28-November 1. Click here to purchase tickets for the 2013 Global Rallycross season finale.

DATE: April 21, 2013

LOCATION: X Games Brazil, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil

IN BRIEF: 15 cars showed up to the first race of the 2013 Global Rallycross season, taking in the sport’s first event outside of the United States. There were tons of changes afoot, from new cars and new drivers to an almost completely different schedule from the previous season. One of the sport’s newest additions was the Star Car, which would bring in new drivers from other forms of racing to challenge rallycross’ biggest stars.

In Brazil, Formula 1 and NASCAR veteran Scott Speed was the selection for the Star Car, and he didn’t disappoint. Speed adapted well to the mostly dirt-based track, qualifying second and winning his heat race. In the main event, he made a thrilling pass on race leader Toomas Heikkinen just before the final lap to win his first GRC race in his first try.

EFFECTS: For Speed, what had initially been intended as a one-race deal morphed into a full-season ride, with the former Formula Renault champion winning a second race at Charlotte in September to rank fifth in points. Speed’s entry paved the way for numerous other drivers to cross over into rallycross, including Dakar Rally veterans Carlos Sainz and Nani Roma, Indianapolis 500 starter Townsend Bell, and 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch, who tested Speed’s car in Charlotte in September.

Photo credit: Alison Padron

OTHER TOP 10 GRC MOMENTS

GRC Personalities // Scott Speed: First Place and Family in Charlotte

Charlotte went well, because we didn’t get wrecked! With these things, you’ve not only got to be fast, but you also have to be a little bit lucky to make it through to the final without any incidents. It’s been hard to do, but it’s also what makes it so exciting. For us we were able to do that, and we were able to come out with the win.

I got off the line clean in both starts. I don’t think there’s anything about the tracks that specifically suits me driving style wise, but the OMSE cars are certainly good at performing well on both concrete and dirt, and on this track there was a ton of dirt. It suited the equipment very well, no question.

I think success in GRC comes down to background. You look at the guys who are successful—I consider Topi Heikkinen the most successful, having done it for more time than I have, and also having a full run at the series this year with proper funding, a proper team, and really attacking it. For me, it was a lot more last minute—we started off doing just the one-off race as a Star Car driver, and we tried to transform that into running the full season, but it certainly wasn’t at the level of those factory guys.

But when you look at his background, he spent time in Europe open-wheel racing, like myself. So his background is four-wheel car racing, as is mine, as is Steve Arpin’s. Ultimately, I think that’s the advantage that we’re able to carry forward in this series—that background and that experience is just a huge advantage for us.

I had my daughter Juliet signing autographs with me after the race, and I have another daughter on the way, but I don’t think fatherhood has changed how I race at all. I think that personality-wise, I’ve changed a little bit. But a lot of those changes happened for me when I came back home to the States after racing in Europe and racing in Formula 1. I look at racing differently than I did when I was younger. I’m certainly a lot wiser about it, a lot more reasonable in the way I look at it.

GRCPersonalities-SpeedFamilyFeatured

I had a lot of family on hand at Charlotte to see my win. My wins are all special, but I think that having family around is more important than anything, honestly. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you do if you don’t have anyone to share it with. The coolest thing about Brazil was that I was able to come home and celebrate with everyone, but having family there was the most important thing. I wish I had family coming to Vegas! My wife and I really love it, it’s probably our favorite city on the planet. But I think it would be a little too hard to travel with two babies, both of them being so young.

A lot of guys look at racing as the entire world—the only thing that matters. It’s everything. They get so encompassed in it that there is nothing else. I’ve been lucky enough to try different forms of motor racing, from Formula 1 and NASCAR to this, and I know that there has to be balance. You can’t just have one thing, 100 percent, all the time, because you don’t do it productively. Being a father hasn’t changed a thing on the track for me, but it has put into perspective what’s really important in life—it allows you to have fun with your job, whether it’s racing or anything else, and it allows you to have more fun with everything else.

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish (1, 2); Alison Merion Padron (3)

Recaps-SupersFeatured2

Global Rallycross Race Recap: The Dirt Track at Charlotte

IN BRIEF: Scott Speed won the battle, but Toomas Heikkinen won the war—while Speed took his second win of the year in the Sylvania Silverstar zXe Global Rallycross at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, Heikkinen took home the 2013 Global Rallycross Driver’s Championship and $20,000 Sylvania Silverstar zXe Cup bonus.

HEAT RECAPS: Ken Block, once again, asserted his dominance in heat races by winning both 1A and 2A. Block’s nine heat victories are more than any other driver in GRC this year. Meanwhile, four other drivers—Travis Pastrana (1B), Tanner Foust (1C), Scott Speed (2B), and Brian Deegan (2C) also won heat races, though Dave Mirra could have easily won heat 2B if not for a jump start penalty that was later deemed incorrect. The LCQ was canceled after numerous accidents with Steve Arpin, Stephan Verdier, and Toomas Heikkinen in the three transfer spots.

MAIN EVENT RECAP: A major accident in the first pass through the fourth turn led to a red flag situation, as Scott Speed, Bucky Lasek, and Brian Deegan appeared to be the top three drivers in the field. Speed got the holeshot in the second attempted start as well, leading Deegan and Block.

Block’s right front tire came apart early in the event, dropping him down the order as he spun multiple times. Meanwhile, Heikkinen recovered from a series of unlucky breaks in his heat races and the final transfer spot of the LCQ to finish third. Deegan chased down Speed, closing in as the race progressed, but the X Games Brazil gold medalist still took the victory by just over three seconds.

RESULTS: The results from Saturday’s Sylvania SilverStar zXe Global Rallycross at The Dirt Track at Charlotte:

  1. Scott Speed, #77 OMSE2 Ford Fiesta
  2. Brian Deegan, #38 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST
  3. Toomas Heikkinen, #57 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST
  4. Stephan Verdier, #4 Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster
  5. Steve Arpin, #32 OMSE2 Ford Fiesta
  6. Bucky Lasek, #81 Subaru PUMA Rallycross WRX STI
  7. Ken Block, #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST
  8. Sverre Isachsen, #11 Subaru PUMA Rallycross WRX STI
  9. Travis Pastrana, #199 Pastrana Racing Dodge Dart
  10. Tanner Foust, #34 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST
  11. Pat Moro, #59 PMR Motorsports Chevrolet Sonic
  12. Dave Mirra, #40 Prodrive MINI Countryman
  13. Patrik Sandell, #18 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST
  14. Bryce Menzies, #99 Pastrana Racing Dodge Dart
  15. Nelson Piquet Jr., #12 X Team Racing Mitsubishi Evo

QUOTES: A selection of quotes from Saturday’s Sylvania SilverStar zXe Global Rallycross at The Dirt Track at Charlotte:

Toomas Heikkinen, Driver, #57 OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST: “It’s been a great year. Now we get the championship with the one point that we needed. But I’m still looking forward and want to win the last one. Of course I want to be on the podium still—that’s what I’m looking for, and that is our goal.”

Scott Speed, Driver, #77 OMSE2 Ford Fiesta: “We were pretty solid all day. In these things, you can be fast—we were pretty fast at Bristol but we didn’t even make the final—so you’ve got to be lucky not to get in any crashes. We stayed out of trouble, got lucky, and were able to win again.”

Stephan Verdier, Driver, #4 Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster: “I’m ecstatic, especially when I was last after lap one of the final. I stalled the car in the hairpin—I thought I was top three but then I was all the way last by a mile. Good wheels saved us, because everybody else kept getting flat tires, and we kept picking them off one at a time. The car is beat, Rhys is going to be so mad at me, but we got fourth! I think we have one body panel left. But we blew out a shock, and we had a transmission issue too. The boys worked hard today. But fourth place is awesome—and it was fourth place on speed.”

Steve Arpin, Driver, #32 OMSE Ford Fiesta: “I feel like we should have been a lot better! We had such a fast car today. It started out in qualifying—we had the first lap and it was fast, and they told me to cool it down for the rest of it, but I guess they don’t count the first lap. I had a blast on the racetrack. We had so much rain last night, but everyone did such a good job making the race track as good as it was. It was so soft, so easy to run up, but somehow they were able to maintain it and have a good race track. We just kept having flat tires—two of them today took us out of it. But the Royal Purple Ford was so good, I wish we could go out there and do it again. Even if we had another flat tire, it was just so much fun every time around the race track.”

Dave Mirra, Driver, #40 Prodrive MINI Countryman: “First and foremost, I want to thank PUMA, Liam Doran, and Prodrive for the MINI. It was an unbelievable car, super fast. I won practice yesterday, qualified second today, clearly was reeling in some other heat drivers in the other races, but things just didn’t go right. I got called for a jump start—Joey (Mancari) came back and reviewed it and said it wasn’t a jump start. We went to the LCQ and all hell broke loose. I’m pretty bummed about the race. It kind of stinks, because I know I was very fast.”

FAST FACTS: A collection of facts from Saturday’s Sylvania SilverStar zXe Global Rallycross at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

DRIVER POINTS:

  1. Toomas Heikkinen, 154
  2. Tanner Foust, 103
  3. Brian Deegan, 101
  4. Ken Block, 93
  5. Scott Speed, 84
  6. Patrik Sandell, 79
  7. Sverre Isachsen, 74
  8. Steve Arpin, 70
  9. Liam Doran, 59
  10. Bucky Lasek, 46
  11. Travis Pastrana, 41
  12. Dave Mirra, 36
  13. Timur Timerzyanov, 34
  14. Mattias Ekstrom, 26
  15. Anton Marklund, 26
  16. Bryce Menzies, 21
  17. Stephan Verdier, 18
  18. Townsend Bell, 16
  19. Guilherme Spinelli, 14
  20. Nelson Piquet Jr., 13
  21. Rhys Millen, 13
  22. Buddy Rice, 7
  23. Henning Solberg, 7
  24. Pat Moro, 6
  25. Mauricio Neves, 5
  26. Edu Marques, 3
  27. David Sterckx, 1

MANUFACTURER POINTS:

  1. Ford, 303
  2. Subaru, 125
  3. Dodge, 109

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

Features-GrowthFeatured

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.

Photo credit: QBA/QNIGAN.com

Features-LCQFeatured1

Last Chance Qualifier a Shot at Redemption or Frustration

Few Global Rallycross races can stir up as much drama and desperation as the last chance qualifier, as drivers push for the final few remaining starting spots in the main event. It’s an opportunity for both success and failure, triumph and defeat, redemption and heartbreak.

No driver wants to be stuck in a last chance qualifier event, but if they are, the job is simple: make it out alive, no matter which transfer spot you’re in. There are no bonus points for a victory, just pride and a last-row starting spot in the 10-lap dash for all the marbles.

Since 2012, there have been last chance qualifiers at every event, including two split LCQs at Texas and X Games Los Angeles last season. Just about every major name in the sport has gone through at least one, from current points leader Toomas Heikkinen to two-time defending series champion Tanner Foust.

Some drivers have better luck at advancing than others. This season, Timur Timerzyanov and Scott Speed have been the kings of LCQ redemption, overcoming bad luck in their heats to advance three times each. Last year, it was Stephan Verdier who made it out alive three times, most of any driver.

On the other side of the coin, Bryce Menzies and Dave Mirra haven’t had such luck. Mirra’s LCQ victory in Atlanta last month saw him advance for the first time in six tries this year, while Menzies still hasn’t made it to a main event since Las Vegas last October.

Of course, the goal is to stay out of the LCQ, something that top GRC drivers do quite well. Deegan has only found himself there three times in his career, winning two; Foust’s one-for-one conversion rate is the series benchmark. Ken Block hasn’t even found himself in an LCQ since rebounding from an accident at the start of his heat race in New Hampshire last July.

With so many opportunities to make a mistake on the path to the final, the last chance qualifier can be a saving grace for unlucky drivers and a thrilling show for the fans. Just don’t be surprised if nobody’s too thrilled to be in it.

Photo credit: QBA/QNIGAN.com