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GRC Insider: Scott Compares European, American Rallycross

Image via Hazel PR

Only a handful of Global Rallycross Championship drivers also have experience racing in the European championship. Among that group is Andy Scott, who finished 11th in ERC points last year and currently ranks eighth in the GRC standings in the No. 26 Scott-Eklund Racing Saab 9-3.

Last year, Scott picked up his best finishes of the season in rounds at Duivelsbergcircuit in Belgium and Eurocircuit in Holland, finishing fourth and third, respectively. During the lengthy ERC sabbatical, he returned to those events this season with his No. 11 Tony Bardy Motorsport Ford Focus.

European loyalists may say that the ERC produces far superior racing, while American fans defend the GRC as a fresh and innovative interpretation of rallycross. We figured that the best way to settle the debate was to ask one of the drivers, and Scott was more than happy to oblige:

What are some of the major differences between ERC and GRC events? Is there a major adjustment, or is it just racing no matter what?

To an extent, it’s just racing no matter what. The difference in the European racing is you have the chance to improve the car between each time you run, because there’s a set format. You know at the start of the weekend when you’re going to be on track, how long you’re going to be on track for, and how long you have between each track outing. So that gives you the chance to improve the car. But also your competitors have that chance. The format in Global Rallycross, once you start racing, it’s all very fast. You’re running with the car that you’ve got, and you have to get the most (out) of it. So that’s the main difference. Obviously, you’ve got depth of field, there were 24 Supercars in Holland and there were probably 22 in Belgium. So even in heat races you’ve got good, stiff competition.

Photo credit: Qba Nitka/Image via Hazel PR

You drive a Saab 9-3 in GRC events and a Ford Focus in Europe. How long does it take to get acclimated with one after spending a lot of time in the other?

Apparently, from our lack of pace in Belgium, it takes a whole event! Personally, I don’t think it’s probably as bad as that. I mean, it’s a matter of looking at the data and making sure I’m shifting gears at the right RPMs. That’s the main difference—we have to short shift with the Ford because of the high torque, but with the Saab the power band is much higher up the rev range, so you don’t short shift with that. There’s a little bit of different technique in the corners, (depending upon) how much traction. It’s like riding a bicycle, it comes back to you pretty quick.”

American fans know Tanner Foust and Liam Doran because they compete in the GRC, but Europe offers its own field of challenging drivers. Who do you look out for the most when you race in Europe?

You have Timur Timerzyanov, the Russian driver, who’s currently leading the championship. There’s Davy Jeanney from France, who I think has great potential. He’s going to be a real force to be reckoned with for years to come. We have Mats Lysen from Norway, he’s a very young talented driver. Frode Holte from Norway, who was linked to at one time racing in the Global Rallycross Championship, but obviously his deal fell through at the last minute. I could go on and on, there are probably ten drivers capable of winning. It just depends on how the event goes on the day.

Photo credit: Qba Nitka/Image via Hazel PR

What’s the difference between the European fanbase and the new American fans?

The ERC fans, the European fans have been following the sport, maybe, for years, so they’re very knowledgeable on the format of the races and most of them know all the drivers. They’re regular hardcore rallycross fans that follow the sport all the time, whereas in the US we’re bringing on a new fanbase that’s just experiencing rallycross in some cases for the first time. They’re equally as enthusiastic, but I don’t think they’ve got the sport down. (laughs) They’re still learning the format, it’s a new, fresh sport for them, whereas in Europe the championship’s been going for a lot of years. You see a good lot of spectators following the European rounds.

You were able to compete at Belgium and Holland because of the gap in the GRC schedule. Will you be racing any more between now and the next GRC event? Will the early September event run as planned?

I think for certain the next US race will be Las Vegas, I don’t hear anything happening before that. I’m going to race in Loheac, in France, on the first weekend of September, which is not part of the European championship. It’s a French national race. But it always attracts a crowd of 40,000 spectators and it’s the biggest race on the European calendar outside of the ERC. There could be 20 plus Supercars at it, and all very competitive—the French championship is probably one of the strongest in Europe. So we’re certainly going there the first weekend of September. Then it’ll be preparations for Las Vegas after that. I’m not sure yet about the program with the team, whether I’ll get time to test the car prior to Vegas. I probably don’t, but we’re hoping the format of the event is that we do get full practice time on the circuit so we can familiarize ourselves again.

– Chris Leone

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