The Red Bull Global Rallycross round 3 in Washington DC gave us something we haven’t seen since September 2013: a Ford Fiesta podium sweep. Added to that, Patrik Sandell relished his very first GRC victory. The Swedish driver has been improving steadily since his debut last year, but now he’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s a winner and this is just the beginning for him. Nelson Piquet Jr. earned his second supercar podium finish in a row after getting a third place spot at X Games Texas. He gave Sandell a hard time in the final’s closing laps but just couldn’t squeeze what he needed out of his car to make the pass. Piquet Jr. is also racing in the GRC Lites class this season. Finland’s Joni Wiman had a good round too as he enjoyed his first podium appearance. Marcus Grönholm’s protégé hasn’t shown any trepidation against hard racing with the series’ biggest stars so far, and DC was no exception. His biggest mistake of the weekend was jumping the start in his heat. It’s likely he was confused by the lights because sometimes you go when they go out but he was supposed to wait for the green. Subaru’s Sverre Isachsen made the same error but unlike Wiman he started his heat from the second row and caught his mistake in time. Wiman’s botched stop-and-go penalty meant that he had to face the LCQ and Ken Block moved straight to the final.
Interestingly enough, Wiman tangled with the LCQ’s winner in the final, Tanner Foust. The American and former two-time champion has been having a tough go at it this season. He ended the first two rounds with nothing more than a damaged race car to show for them. Unlike his Andretti Autosport teammate, Scott Speed, who should enjoy his current golden boy status until the Golden Child gets his mojo back. Speed didn’t have it easy at all that weekend and could do no better than follow Foust with a sixth-place finish. Even if the Volkswagen drivers could get past each other, they’d still have to contend with Steve Arpin in yet another Ford Fiesta before daring to touch the podium. Arpin was a pleasant surprise in fourth place and a commanding heat win. He’s hot to follow up his second-place finish in Barbados and in case you were wondering, the Canadian is definitely in the hunt for his first Red Bull GRC win. As we come to the race results’ lower order, here we find the series’ biggest name parked in the seventh spot. Ken Block has a very fast car and puts up great numbers during practice and heats but hasn’t been a factor in the finals – yet! I hope that we see the Hoonigan-in-Chief follow up his sole victory at the 2013 Las Vegas finale. Austin Dyne continues to impress with his third straight appearance in the finals. Although Dyne had his work cut out for him after suffering a differential failure during his heat. He battled his way back through the LCQ and finished in eighth place behind Block. Much like Sandell did last season, we’re going to find ourselves occasionally forgetting that Dyne’s a rookie.
Next up was Rhys Millen in the Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rallycross car, and as happy as I was that he made it to the final, I want to know why he finished ninth? The battle between Sandell and Piquet Jr. was so hot that the TV cameras didn’t pay much mind to the rest of the field but seriously what happened to Rhys? Was there a mechanical problem? Did he hit something? Was there a mechanical problem because he hit something? What? Feel free to share what you know in the comments below. In fact, could you also tell us what happened with the Subaru duo? Isachsen ended up second to last and Bucky Lasek was definitely last. They engaged in some spirited jostling during the heat stage but did they possibly cancel each other out in the final? Things can get froggy when teammates go head-to-head with sometimes disastrous results. At the very least feelings will get hurt and at the most cars get wrecked. Perhaps in this case they were battling to not be last. I’m really liking the Subaru team so far this season and want to see them win, not because we’re sorry for them but because they’re just that good.
From Red Bull Global Rallycross:
Red Bull Global Rallycross Race Recap: Volkswagen Rallycross DC
IN BRIEF: The Ford Fiesta ST fleet of Patrik Sandell, Nelson Piquet Jr., and Joni Wiman proved to be the class of the field at Volkswagen Rallycross DC, the third round of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season. All three drivers won both of their points-paying heats before finishing 1-2-3 in Sunday’s main event, with Sandell taking his first victory and Wiman his first podium.
HEAT RECAPS: Two rounds of three points-paying heats on Saturday (which saw both Scott Speed and Tanner Foust scratched with engine failures) yielded to a pair of six-car semifinals on Sunday, with three cars to transfer from each. Nelson Piquet Jr. beat Speed and Joni Wiman in the first, but an issue with penalty administration to Wiman led series officials to allow fourth place finisher Ken Block to advance as well. In the second semifinal, Steve Arpin, Patrik Sandell, and Sverre Isachsen transferred, while Foust won the last chance qualifier.
MAIN EVENT RECAP: After putting 11 cars onto the line for the first time in series history (due to a penalty administration error), no participating driver failed to finish Sunday’s main event. The clean start was marred only by a jump start from Isachsen, who quickly yielded to the entire pack in self-correction to avoid a stop and go penalty. Piquet Jr. staked his claim to the holeshot, but Sandell managed to get by on the first lap to facilitate an intense battle for the lead all race long.
Foust seemed set to rebound from two difficult races, but a sick motor dropped the two-time series champion from third to fifth behind Wiman and Arpin, who rebounded after falling from the front row on the start to sixth. Behind them, Speed led Lasek cleanly through most of the race, until the Maryland native clipped an obstacle and damaged his drivetrain, sending the car into rear wheel drive and causing a spin that put him to the back.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: The results from Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross DC, the third round of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season:
Patrik Sandell, #18 Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
Nelson Piquet Jr., #75 SH Racing Rallycross Ford, Fiesta ST
Joni Wiman, #31 Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
Steve Arpin, #00 Royal Purple Racing/OMSE2 Ford Fiesta
Tanner Foust, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo
Scott Speed, #77 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo
Ken Block, #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST
Austin Dyne, #14 Barracuda Racing Ford Fiesta
Rhys Millen, #67 Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing Veloster Turbo
Sverre Isachsen, #11 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
Bucky Lasek, #81 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
Emma Gilmour, #27 Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing Veloster Turbo
QUOTES: A selection of quotes from Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross DC, the third round of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season:
Patrik Sandell, Driver, #18 Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST: “It’s absolutely perfect. I felt when we came here that if I could just be smart and not make any mistakes, I could fight for the top. And I knew that the start at the final was so important, so I just tried to focus on that as much as I could. I think I took the start directly on the light, and that made me come off the line so good. That was the key to everything.”
Nelson Piquet Jr., Driver, #75 SH Racing Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST: “This is my first season, and there will be a few mistakes here and there, but we’re getting better every weekend. Patrik is my Ford teammate—I didn’t want to risk that one or two Fords would lose positions. If it wasn’t my teammate, maybe I would have tried a little bit harder or tried to force something, but because he’s my teammate, I had to be extra careful. I’m sure he’s going to pay me back next time.”
Joni Wiman, Driver, #31 Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST: “Of course I am really happy. I was on the second row because I false started in the semifinal, but I got quite a good start and got around Tanner. But I am really happy to have my first podium, that’s what I was aiming for in this race. We’ve definitely got the speed—all the cars are really good and we couldn’t ask for a better result for Ford and Olsbergs MSE this weekend.”
Tanner Foust, Driver, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo: “This was an unbelievable weekend for the team. We had two cars that had random engine issues within an hour of each other—one had a bolt back out into the flywheel, and the other one had a bearing go bad—and we had one spare engine. So we changed both engines, but they also had to manufacture a bearing out of a piece of a hammer, organize some CNC work, and rebuild a gearbox. It’s unbelievable that they put it all back together. They were here until 2:30, and we didn’t think we were going to be on the track today. Instead, we were able to get there in the final and have potential for a good result. We were still suffering some engine problems in the final, so we couldn’t really hold on to third place, but I’m still unbelievably proud and amazed by the capabilities of this team.
FAST FACTS: A collection of facts from Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross DC, the third round of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season:
This was Patrik Sandell’s first career Red Bull Global Rallycross victory and his third career podium finish, as well as his first since New Hampshire last July. Sandell’s two heat wins marked the sixth and seventh heat victories of his career, putting him sixth on the all-time list.
Nelson Piquet Jr. earned his second consecutive podium finish on Sunday after appearing in his third consecutive main event. By also finishing third in the GRC Lites category, Piquet Jr. became the first driver in Red Bull GRC history to earn a medal in both the Supercars and GRC Lites classes in the same event.
Joni Wiman earned his first career podium on Sunday, becoming the first driver to graduate from GRC Lites and earn a medal in a Supercars event.
Tanner Foust’s fifth place finish marked his first appearance in a main event since finishing second in Las Vegas last November, a gap of 227 days. It also marked the first time that he was the highest-scoring driver for Volkswagen in a Red Bull GRC event.
Despite missing both of his heat races, Scott Speed’s sixth place finish was enough to maintain the points lead over Piquet Jr. by a single point. His six heat victories this season still lead all Supercars drivers.
Ken Block’s seventh place finish is his best result of the 2014 Red Bull GRC season so far.
Emma Gilmour has finished 12th in all three of her 2014 Red Bull GRC appearances.
Four drivers have made all three main events so far this season: Patrik Sandell, Nelson Piquet Jr., Scott Speed, and Austin Dyne.
UNOFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS:
Scott Speed, 135 points
Nelson Piquet Jr., 134
Patrik Sandell, 108
Steve Arpin, 108
Joni Wiman, 85
Brian Deegan, 70
Austin Dyne, 67
Bucky Lasek, 54
Ken Block, 53
Rhys Millen, 42
Tanner Foust, 41
Sverre Isachsen, 41
Emma Gilmour, 18
Pat Moro, 3
UNOFFICIAL MANUFACTURER POINTS:
GRC Lites Race Recap: Volkswagen Rallycross DC
IN BRIEF: Mitchell DeJong proved once again that he is the class of the current GRC Lites field, posting lap and race times comparable to Supercars drivers on the way to a victory at Volkswagen Rallycross DC, his second straight win in 2014. Olsbergs MSE teammate Kevin Eriksson and double-duty Supercars driver Nelson Piquet Jr. completed the podium.
HEAT RECAPS: Mitchell DeJong and Nelson Piquet Jr. each took victories in both of their heat races, while Kevin Eriksson overcame an incident in seeding and the bottom seed to earn a pair of second place finishes. Atila Abreu, who missed his first heat on Saturday, rebounded to finish second in the latter heat, but would start from the back row in the final due to a tire change.
MAIN EVENT RECAP: All eight drivers were allowed to compete in the final, which saw DeJong lead Eriksson and Piquet Jr. off of the line and into the hairpin. While Piquet Jr. and Eriksson traded second place with passes on the joker lap, DeJong pulled away from the pack, much as he has all season. Abreu overcame his tire change to claim fourth, while Austin Cindric backed his X Games Austin bronze medal with a top-five run.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: The results from Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross DC, the second round of the 2014 GRC Lites season:
Mitchell DeJong, #24 Olsbergs MSE
Kevin Eriksson, #96 Olsbergs MSE
Nelson Piquet Jr., #07 Piquet Sports
Austin Cindric, #77 C4 Motorsports
Atila Abreu, #51 Olsbergs MSE
Alejandro Fernandez, #126 Olsbergs MSE
Geoff Sykes, #6 DTV Solutions
Tyler Benson, #60 Rhys Millen Racing
QUOTES: A selection of quotes from Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross DC, the second round of the 2014 GRC Lites season:
Mitchell DeJong, Driver, #24 Olsbergs MSE GRC Lites: “That was such a crazy race. In the heat race, we had some issues where the radiator broke and then the car wouldn’t start before the final, so we were just getting all that together. In the final, it was going really well, and I started smoking, but just holding onto it was awesome. Luckily, I had the inside line going into turn three, the corner that really means the most off the start. After that it was just focusing on not making mistakes and doing the best I can.”
Kevin Eriksson, Driver, #96 Olsbergs MSE GRC Lites: “I’m pretty happy. I hit the tire barriers and missed seeding, and seeding is really important here, so I had to fight my way back. My goal was to finish second in the heat, and I was fpurth coming out of the first corner, but I passed one guy and on the last lap I jumped past the second guy on the last lap, so I think that was really fun to watch. In the final, I found good speed and managed to pass Nelson in the last couple of laps, but Mitchell was already too far.”
FAST FACTS: A collection of facts from Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross DC, the second round of the 2014 GRC Lites season:
This was Mitchell DeJong’s second career GRC Lites victory, as well as his fourth career podium finish in the class. DeJong joins Joni Wiman as the only two drivers in GRC Lites history to have won consecutive events.
Kevin Eriksson earned the third podium of his GRC Lites career and his second consecutive runner-up finish.
Nelson Piquet Jr.’s third place finish made him the first driver in Red Bull GRC history to earn a podium finish in both the GRC Lites and Supercars classes. His runner-up finish in the Supercars race later in the day made him the first driver to accomplish the feat on the same day.
Three of the four countries represented in this year’s GRC Lites field—the United States, Sweden, and Brazil—can now claim podium finishes in the 2014 season.
UNOFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS:
Mitchell DeJong, 112 points
Kevin Eriksson, 100
Austin Cindric, 75
Nelson Piquet Jr., 75
Atila Abreu, 72
Geoff Sykes, 61
Alejandro Fernandez, 49
Tyler Benson, 29
Colton Herta, 16
ABOUT RED BULL GRC: Designed to produce the fastest and most exciting racing in motorsports, Red Bull Global Rallycross pits small production-based cars against each other in door-to- door racing featuring dirt, asphalt, and tabletop jumps. With enhanced engineering and safety features, the cars produce 600 horsepower and can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in less than two seconds, and can also withstand 70-foot jumps and other vehicle contact. For more information visit www.RedBullGlobalRallycross.com.
A Final Word
Round 4 will be in the parking lot of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, NY, Saturday July 19 and 20, 2014. This gives New Zealand’s Emma Gilmour another opportunity to shine. This is a tough rookie class to be a part of and her gender only invites more scrutiny. However she’s been racing cleanly and hasn’t caused any accidents. Gilmour has more than half the schedule to master this sport. Australian drifter, Sarah Burgess, will finally make her GRC debut after missing X Games Austin due to mechanical issues encountered during testing, in a BMI Racing Chevrolet Sonic. It’s always good to have more manufacturers in the mix. Brian Deegan, is once again noticeably absent from the driver line-up. If the NY event is anything like Washington DC, then we can look forward to another weekend of thrilling racing without black flags, red flags, tow trucks, ambulances and restarts. To keep up with live race updates including Saturday’s practice sessions, please connect with Red Bull Global Rallycross via social media.
Live Timing: http://www.redbullglobalrallycross.com/timing-and-scoring/
GRC Live Radio: http://www.downanddirtyshow.com/category/grc-live-radio-2/
The race will air on NBC, Sunday July 20, 2014 at 2:00pm EST and re-air on NBC Sports Network, Wednesday July 23, 2014 at 5:30pm EST. Tickets are still available for online purchase at http://rbgrcny.com/pricing/, starting at USD $29 for adults and USD $10 for kids. Ticket holders will enjoy paddock access and a 1-year subscription to the Red Bulletin Magazine; and yes, it’s totally worth it.