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GRC Race Preview: Round 1 – Charlotte

Race Details: Saturday, May 26, 8:00 PM ET (TV: ESPN2)

Storylines: This is the first round of the 2012 GRC schedule, and it brings together one of the deepest fields that the sport has ever seen. Defending series champion Tanner Foust, 2011 X Games Rallycross gold medalist Brian Deegan, and two-time World Rally Championship title winner Marcus Gronholm are back together as teammates. A contingent of strong European drivers, from three-time defending European champion Sverre Isachsen to defending head-to-head X Games gold medalist Liam Doran, will also join the series. And Ken Block and Travis Pastrana, arguably the two biggest names in rallycross in America, have committed to run the full season. Add in a diverse mix of action sports athletes and independent teams and predicting the winner may prove impossible.

Top Picks: Chances are, an Olsbergs MSE-prepared Ford is going to wind up on the top step of the podium at the end of the night. Foust and Gronholm dominated last year’s GRC, and Gronholm would have won the title if other commitments hadn’t kept him out of the Snoqualmie round. Meanwhile, Doran made a name for himself in America by scoring a popular underdog win at last year’s X Games, and has had a chance to get comfortable with his new Citroen DS3 in European rounds.

Dark Horse: Sverre Isachsen only counts as a dark horse because he’s never raced in America, so many fans won’t have heard of him. But after signing a three-year contract to drive for the Subaru Puma Rallycross Team, he’s here to stay, and fans shouldn’t underestimate the aggressive Norwegian. He took last year’s ERC title with authority, winning the final four races of the season to take home his third consecutive championship. He also beat Foust, Doran, and fellow GRC rookie Toomas Heikkinen to do it.

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