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