We’re not sure if they took a Greyhound on the Hudson River line, but last weekend Red Bull Global Rallycross was definitely in a New York State of Mind. They took over the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum’s parking lot. Despite the dearth of dirt, there was some rather good racing and wouldn’t you know it but a Volkswagen won the Volkswagen Rallycross NY event. Hey after the Ford Fiesta sweep in Washington DC, you never know who’s going to take the w in this series. Still it was a pleasant surprise for some to see a familiar face at the top of the podium, and a recurring nightmare to others.
Don’t call it a comeback…
We sports fans are a spoiled lot. Often we get emotionally invested in whatever game or race we’re watching and especially the athletes. So when certain people don’t perform up to their usual freakishly successful standards like Cristiano Ronaldo overshooting a penalty kick or Lebron James missing a crucial free throw, fans have been known at the very least wondered, “Dude, what’s up with you? This is your job! Get yourself together.” So when a guy with two consecutive championships like Tanner Foust hasn’t won a race since 2013 and then takes victory in convincing fashion, it’s kind of a big deal. In the televised Semifinal Heat B, we saw him pull away from the group early on and hold that lead for the entire race. The final was a slightly different matter. He had a poor start before a red flag stopped the race and on the third go (yes third), he managed to get past Piquet Jr. Foust pulled away with three Ford Fiestas driven by Block, Piquet Jr. and Wiman giving chase. Teammate Scott Speed never caught up to him and fans were treated to a long unseen sight of the black and yellow livery flying across the finish line. Still is it really fair to call it a comeback when he was always here? Tanner Foust has fifteen GRC podium finishes which is nothing to shake a stick at, so it’s less of a comeback and more of a wake-up from the sleeper hold that Topi Heikkinen seemed to have put on the field last season. A bit more reality is that Foust is only seventh on the championship standings. So if he’s planning on taking home a third crown in September, then he’s going to have to get past Nelson Piquet Jr. and that won’t be an easy task.
When it was announced that Nelson Piquet Jr. was going to fully focus on the GRC in 2014 and driving an Olsberg MSE-prepped Ford Fiesta, nobody should have been surprised that he’s the one sitting atop the Championship standings, and I mean nobody. Granted, thirty-five points isn’t much of a lead and there are a number of drivers who are highly capable of snatching it from him but can they really? Three podiums in four rounds and he still hasn’t won a race yet. This guy’s professional experience is pretty amazing. The son of three-time Formula 1 World Champion, Nelson Piquet, racing is in his DNA and he knows it. Fighting’s in there too and hopefully we won’t see those kung fu moves in the GRC. Seriously Nelson, just don’t because there are a bunch of MMA-trained dudes in here. Oh and speaking of MMA-trained dudes, Ken Block got the blessed holeshot at the start of Semifinal Heat B but a red flag led to a restart and Piquet Jr. was ready for him that time around. He tangled with Block in the final round too but not before getting passed by Scott Speed. By the end of the race, Piquet Jr. was in third place but by the end of the day, he was actually in second with Block third and Scott Speed got busted down to ninth.
Red Flag Faux Pas
Once upon a time the GRC season began with the X Games in Brazil. In the final race, an enormous dust cloud swarmed over the course as cars went everywhere and into each other. This brought out a red flag during which teams could only replace body work, refuel, top up water and change tires or wheels, but nothing more. As a result of ignoring that rule, some big name drivers had to stay in the paddocks as the final went on without them. This allowed a podium finish for Scott Speed, Topi Heikkinen and Patrik Sandell respectively. It was one of the biggest lessons race teams learned. The GRC doesn’t play when it comes onto violations no matter who is involved. Now more than a year later, the red flag rule has caused upset once again and this time Scott Speed bore the consequences.
“After an investigation period, Speed’s team was determined to have violated Article 7.7 of the series’ supplemental regulations during the first of two red flag periods. Among other stipulations, Article 7.7 limits teams from performing any repairs outside of refueling, refilling the water reservoir, changing a flat tire or damaged wheel, or removing or reaffixing bodywork during a red flag period—the section of the rule that Speed’s team violated.” – Red Flag Rules Throw Wrench In Supercars Standings by Chris Leone, Red Bull Global Rallycross
Perhaps it’s not the rule causing the upset but the team’s ignorance of it. This was a hard lesson for the Andretti Autosport team but one that they’ll think twice about breaking again. It’s unfortunate too because Scott Speed did an admirable by battling against Rhys Millen in Semifinal Heat B to avoid the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). Although he got into Piquet Jr. in the final, strategic use of the joker lap helped him get to the front pack and squeeze past the Brazilian to claim briefly second place. It was a tough race for him but that makes him all the more dangerous heading into Charlotte where he won last year.
I’m continuously impressed by the chutzpah in this year’s rookies. Not that GRC rookies have ever been a timid bunch but these drivers have been performing quite well. Joni Wiman and Austin Dyne both ended up in the LCQ but were 1-2 to the final, finishing fourth and sixth respectively. There was some fire from Emma Gilmour during her appearances. Hopefully we’ll see more upward mobility from her in the stats. Incidentally she was traded paint with her boss, Rhys Millen, in the LCQ. He went to the final but was unfortunately roughly sandwiched between Wiman and Speed at the first red flag, ultimately finishing seventh. The Washington DC winner, Patrik Sandell was taken out at almost the same time ending his day. Canada’s Steve Arpin caused the stoppage but managed to return and finish the race in a respectable fifth place.
Curiouser and curiouser!
Bucky Lasek suffered a mechanical problem and caused a red flag in his Semifinal Heat A. Repairs on his Subaru WRX STI meant that he would transfer to the LCQ but he didn’t fare well there. The Subies have been running strongly this season so it’s curious to see Lasek sidelined with problems under the hood. Will they have it all sorted out by the next round? Sarah Burgess, the well-advertised Aussie drifter was supposed to race in the Supercars at X Games and then in New York but nada. She’s on the list for Charlotte and we’re curious to see how the lone Chevrolet Sonic will do in this group. It’s always great to see another brand in the mix but could imagine the upheaval if she does really well…or takes out a championship contender? Brian Deegan will be back in action at The Dirt Track, where we know he’s most at home. He’s missed the last two rounds, so we’re curious to see how his presence will affect the rest of the field. Will The General make the podium again at Charlotte? Let’s call a thing a thing. Last year’s race at Charlotte was a crashfest and while we’ve seen some spectacular flips and flops already this season, we’re curious as to what kind of road rage will be displayed after people inevitably get bumped out and what kind of penalties will be handed down? Oh to be a fly on the wall at that drivers meeting!
From Red Bull Global Rallycross:
Red Bull Global Rallycross Race Recap: Volkswagen Rallycross NY
IN BRIEF: Tanner Foust’s miserable luck from the onset of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season appears to be firmly behind him, as his constant speed finally delivered him a victory in Volkswagen Rallycross NY on Sunday. After a penalty to Scott Speed erased a Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross 1-2 finish, Nelson Piquet Jr. stepped up into second place and the points lead, and Ken Block earned his first podium of the year.
HEAT RECAPS: Five drivers earned heat victories in six total heats on Saturday, with Ken Block the only driver to take the victory in both of his points-paying heats. The first semifinal saw Nelson Piquet Jr., Block, and Steve Arpin transfer to the main event, while Tanner Foust, Sverre Isachsen, and a hard-charging Scott Speed earned transfer spots in the second semi. The last chance qualifier saw almost every car hold a transfer spot at some point, with Joni Wiman, Austin Dyne, Patrik Sandell, and Rhys Millen moving on.
MAIN EVENT RECAP: A pair of red flag-causing incidents quickly pared down the Supercars field in New York. The first, which saw Steve Arpin spun and stuck in the turn four hairpin, led to a bunch-up in which Sandell’s car suffered significant damage. The second saw contact between Isachsen and Foust drag racing into the first corner, with Isachsen’s car suffering too much damage to continue.
The third restart saw the final trimmed to six laps, and with Isachsen off the front row, Foust was able to beat Piquet to the holeshot and hold the lead. Block passed Piquet for second, only to lose the spot when Piquet took his joker lap, while a hard-charging Speed overcame a rough start to pass multiple cars and eventually get by the Brazilian for the runner-up spot and a supposed 1-2 finish for Volkswagen.
After the event, Speed’s team was determined to have violated Article 7.7 of the series’ supplemental regulations, which state that a team may only complete certain specified repairs during the event of a red flag. Because the infraction took place during the first red flag period, Speed was disqualified from the point of the repair forward, dropping him to ninth in the running order. The resulting point swing saw him go from leading Piquet in points, 184-179, to trailing him, 184-149.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: The results from Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross NY, the fourth round of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season:
- Tanner Foust, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo
- Nelson Piquet Jr., #07 SH Racing Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST
- Ken Block, #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST
- Joni Wiman, #31 Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
- Steve Arpin, #00 Royal Purple Racing/OMSE2 Ford Fiesta
- 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
- Scott Speed, #77 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo
- Patrik Sandell, #18 Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
- 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 NY, the fourth round of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season:
Tanner Foust, Driver, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo: “It’s been a tough year, and the guys with the most finely tuned road racing skills have been really dominant this year. This is a course that road racing skill really played in, and (Nelson Piquet Jr. and Scott Speed) were quickest all weekend. Luckily I was able to use a little bit of rallycross-ness, and focus on starting, because the track was a little hard to pass on in order to get the job done. Fundamentally, I still have to go to school and get quicker, and I’m getting closer and closer to fine-tune my road racing skills, but GRC has set the stage that its courses and races are going to be very much like what you see here.”
Nelson Piquet Jr., Driver, #07 SH Racing Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST: “Last year, I wouldn’t even call it a learning curve—I was a passenger in a Lites car around these guys. I did a few races, and it’s always frustrating when a driver gets to a racetrack and knows he has no chance. It’s different when we come with the frame of mind where we have a car that we know has a chance to win a race. This year has been a year for me to get the most out of it, work with the team and really build up the momentum race after race. I’m having a lot of fun, and we have a lot of chances to win races.”
Ken Block, Driver, #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST: “The season gets progressively better for me, so I’m stoked to have third. It was a tough day today, we had a bunch of restarts, and unfortunately I had some really good starts that were wiped away by some red flags. But it is what it is—that’s rallycross. I had some good battles going in the final, but unfortunately somebody hit my rear suspension and bent it, so I really struggled to get fourth. Then, of course, with the penalty, I ended up with third. I’m pretty happy with that, I need the points! It’s been such a bad season so far—I’ve driven well, qualified fairly well, things just hadn’t come together for the final, so I’m stoked.”
Scott Speed, Driver, #77 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo: “There’s no question our car has kind of been the car to beat all year. Some tracks favor us more than others—I think this track was the most dominant we’ve been all year, honestly. We were quite quick everywhere. For us, here, we just had engine problems on three of the four starts, and you can’t do that here and win races. But I can’t say enough about the team. The Andretti guys have done an amazing job elevating this to the next level, and it shows in the performance of our cars.”
FAST FACTS: A collection of facts from Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross NY, the fourth round of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season:
- This was Tanner Foust’s fifth career Red Bull Global Rallycross victory and 15th career podium finish in 27 career starts. All three statistics are series records; he is tied with Marcus Gronholm and Toomas Heikkinen for most career wins and holds the podium and event appearance records outright. It was his first victory in 12 races, dating back to the 2012 season finale in Las Vegas.
- Nelson Piquet Jr.’s second place finish tied his career best Supercars result, set last month at Volkswagen Rallycross DC. He has now earned three consecutive podium finishes and has not yet finished worse than fourth this season. His seven heat victories this season lead the Supercars class.
- Ken Block earned the fifth podium finish of his Red Bull GRC career in his 21st career start. It was Block’s first podium since winning on the same style of track layout in Las Vegas last November. Block also earned the 17th and 18th heat victories of his Red Bull GRC career on Saturday, putting him second on the all-time list.
- Steve Arpin earned his third top five finish of the season on Sunday.
- Sverre Isachsen earned his best seeding position of the season by posting the third fastest lap time on Saturday. He also earned his second heat victory of the 2014 season.
- Four drivers have made all four main events so far this season: Nelson Piquet Jr., Austin Dyne, Scott Speed, and Patrik Sandell.
UNOFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS:
- Nelson Piquet Jr., 184 points
- Scott Speed, 149
- Steve Arpin, 140
- Joni Wiman, 124
- Patrik Sandell, 116
- Ken Block, 99
- Tanner Foust, 95
- Austin Dyne, 94
- Brian Deegan, 70
- Rhys Millen, 65
- Sverre Isachsen, 60
- Bucky Lasek, 57
- Emma Gilmour, 21
- Pat Moro, 3
UNOFFICIAL MANUFACTURER POINTS:
- Ford, 373
- Volkswagen, 244
- Subaru, 117
- Hyundai, 86
- Chevrolet, 3
GRC Lites Race Recap: Volkswagen Rallycross NY
IN BRIEF: Kevin Eriksson gave himself a late 18th birthday present at Volkswagen Rallycross NY on Sunday, winning his first career GRC Lites event in 12 career starts. Mitchell DeJong, winner of the first two rounds, came home second, while Pedro Piquet earned third place in his series debut.
HEAT RECAPS: As was the case at the season opener at X Games Austin, Mitchell DeJong and Kevin Eriksson won both of their heat races, but four of the other five drivers in the field earned a second place finish in a heat. Pedro Piquet and Oliver Eriksson each made their debut in Lites Heat 1B, and Piquet overcame a poor start to make up multiple seconds and pass the younger Eriksson in the race’s final moments.
MAIN EVENT RECAP: The seven-car final saw the older Eriksson brother jump out to a quick and confident lead over teammate DeJong, who attempted to overcome a fender rubbing his left front tire to catch the leader. Meanwhile, as Geoff Sykes pulled off with terminal suspension damage, Piquet led the younger Eriksson to maintain his podium spot, while Tyler Benson earned a career-best fifth place finish.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: The results from Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross DC, the second round of the 2014 GRC Lites season:
- Kevin Eriksson, #96 Olsbergs MSE
- Mitchell DeJong, #24 Olsbergs MSE
- Pedro Piquet, #5 Piquet Sports
- Oliver Eriksson, #16 Olsbergs MSE
- Tyler Benson, #60 Rhys Millen Racing
- Alejandro Fernandez, #126 Olsbergs MSE
- Geoff Sykes, #6 DTV Solutions
QUOTES: A selection of quotes from Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross NY, the third round of the 2014 GRC Lites season:
Kevin Eriksson, Driver, #96 Olsbergs MSE GRC Lites: “This is the best birthday week ever, I can say. It was really good to get my first win—I’ve been fighting so long for it, and I think I deserved it today. In the final, I think we were equal, me and Mitchell, until I think his tires got a bit too warm, so I got a little lead, and that was enough.”
Mitchell DeJong, Driver, #24 Olsbergs MSE GRC Lites: “We had a bit of an issue on the start, a weird issue where it just bogged down right away and we lost the holeshot, and on the first lap we got a puncture. At that point it was just trying to hold on for the rest of the race, to try and maintain second. It was very hard to drive about halfway through, very hard to control, but luckily we still hung onto it, and the tire was still on the wheel. But it was definitely a lot slower and harder to control every lap.”
Pedro Piquet, Driver, #5 Piquet Sports GRC Lites: “At the beginning, it was quite easy because no one was pushing too much, and in the other practices we had to push. I was struggling to find the limit, find the right setup. Qualifying was very good, and the heats were nice—in the first heat I was second, and in the second I was third, but I crashed with a guy there. The final was quite good because we started sixth and I got a good start, which was where I was doing bad. I would like to do Charlotte, but I have a Formula 3 race—but if I can do more of these, it would be great for my career and to progress in my abilities.”
FAST FACTS: A collection of facts from Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross NY, the third round of the 2014 GRC Lites season:
- This was Kevin Eriksson’s first career GRC Lites victory, as well as his fourth career podium finish in the class. He is now the third winner in GRC Lites history, behind Joni Wiman and Mitchell DeJong.
- Mitchell DeJong earned the fourth podium of his GRC Lites career and his third consecutive podium finish.
- Pedro Piquet earned a podium finish in the first start of his GRC Lites career. He is the second driver to do so this season, after Austin Cindric did so at X Games Austin.
- Tyler Benson’s fifth place finish was the best result of his GRC Lites career. Benson has now made six career GRC Lites starts.
UNOFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS:
- Mitchell DeJong, 163
- Kevin Eriksson, 156
- Geoff Sykes, 84
- Alejandro Fernandez, 76
- Austin Cindric, 75
- Nelson Piquet Jr., 75
- Atila Abreu, 72
- Tyler Benson, 61
- Pedro Piquet, 43
- Oliver Eriksson, 38
- 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
The race will air live on NBC, Saturday July 26, 2014 at 2:00pm EST and re-air on NBC Sports Network, Thursday July 31, 2014 at 2:00am EST. Tickets are still available for online purchase at http://www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets/red_bull_global_rallycross/, starting at USD $25 for adults per day or USD $40 for a two-day pass. USD $15 for kids thirteen and under or USD $25 for a two-day pass. Ticket holders will enjoy paddock access and an autograph session on Saturday. Fans have been known to bring all sorts of things for drivers to sign so feel free to get creative. Don’t forget to connect with Red Bull Global Rallycross via the following links:
Official Website: http://www.redbullglobalrallycross.com/
Live Timing: http://www.redbullglobalrallycross.com/timing-and-scoring/