For the second day in a row, the best and brightest of the Global Rallycross Championship (GRC) wowed the crowd at the Irwindale Event Center. Unlike the Gymkhana GRID, this driver line-up was the biggest yet and saw the return of competitors like Rhys Millen and Stephan Verdier.
The Smoking Hot Heats
With eighteen drivers, each heat was action-packed. The half-mile long track was dirt a third of the way, with a surprisingly small hump bump jump. Somebody, please send tasty, baked goods and gift cards to whoever decided to omit the metal gap jump this season. That death trap will not be missed. In rallycross, it’s the corners where the mayhem occurs and this course had quite a few. The Joker Lap was a shortcut this time around. In all this was a decent course, when you consider that they started building right it after the Gymkhana GRID event. The battle between Tanner Foust and Timur Timerzyanov was terribly exciting. Foust seemed to be like a man possessed, refusing to taste the shame of another visit to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ).
Topi Tops Them All
The little rallycross god of thunder, Toomas “Topi” Heikkinen, dropped his hammer on the competition and to win another X Games gold, becoming the first driver to take consecutive top honors for this event. Including Bristol and New Hampshire, this brought his GRC tally to four, with the Finn sitting pretty atop the Driver Championship with 117 points. Tanner Foust won the silver medal and trails Heikkinen by 39 points. At this point, pundits are talking about the mathematical possibilities of another driver prying the championship away from Heikkinen. With three fixtures left, this is definitely his race to lose.
What Curse of the Zombie Cat?
Another driver making Scandinavia proud was Norway’s Sverre Isaachsen who secured his first podium for the season. He was strong from the beginning, winning his heat, despite a restart after Steve Arpin crashed out. Most importantly, he immediately made the Subaru Puma Rallycross team relevant again. Unlike the others, they had a slow start to the season and have been plagued with mechanical failures. Isaachsen was quite literally knocked out of the final in Munich by Ken Block, but has managed to remain competitive. Hopefully his team mates will follow in his footsteps and find their way to the top of the standings. That is if they can get past “The Viking” themselves.
Next Stop, Hotlanta!
On Saturday August 10, 2013 the GRC caravan heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway where, like in Bristol, they will be the main attraction. Tickets are being sold at incredibly low prices. Adults are for $20 and kids from six to twelve will get in for $10. I can’t even begin to imagine why anybody wouldn’t go to this race. You can blow hundreds or even thousands of dollars on tickets for motorsports events, and I’m pretty sure there’s a cushy VIP area for this GRC event as well. Oh, and an extra $5 for paddock access? You have got to be kidding me! For those of us who can’t make it, the event will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 6:30pm EST.
The field will only have twelve drivers this time around as Anton Marklund and Liam Doran will be absent. Meanwhile both Pastrana Racing cars will have replacement pilots in Timur Timerzyanov and Norwegian Rallymaster, Henning Solberg (brother of Petter Solberg). It’s always exciting when they bring ringers in because we never know how it’s going to turn out. Maybe some of those young pups are going to get schooled this evening? Don’t worry, we’ll be watching and when we know, you’ll know.
Photo Credit: © Jakub QBA Nitka/ERC24.COM