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GRC Mid-Season Break: How Drivers Spent Their “Summer Vacation”

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

Two and a half months is a long time to go between race weekends in the middle of a season, but that’s exactly how long it’s been since the last Global Rallycross Championship event all the way back in July. Luckily, since then, the athletes of the GRC have been finding plenty of ways to keep themselves busy. Here’s a list of highlights:

  • Points leader Tanner Foust has scored finishes of second, sixth, and sixth in three European Rallycross Championship rounds, climbing to second in that championship. In the meantime, he’s also been promoting new episodes of the American version of Top Gear, while starring in the “Life in the Foust Lane” web series on behalf of sponsor Rockstar Energy.
  • Besides doing stunt work in multiple car commercials, Samuel Hubinette took part in the Targa Newfoundland Rally from September 8-15, finishing first in the small displacement class and second in the open class. He told us about his summer in a recent interview:

    After New Hampshire I flew straight to Sweden with my family, spent a couple weeks there. I was actually supposed to stay there longer, but then I got some commercials back in California. So I flew back early with my family and worked on a Porsche commercial, a Golf commercial, and a Hyundai commercial.

    Image via Chrysler Twitter

    Then I flew out to Newfoundland and got to do the Targa Newfoundland Race, which was awesome, with Fiat USA. I competed for them, which was pretty cool, in the Fiat Abarth, (and it) was awesome. And I had Jen Horsey as the co-driver, our TV host for Global Rallycross. With her next to me with a lot of experience, I got up to speed very quickly. With her getting up to speed, we did really well. Actually, in the open class, where we were up against rally cars with overdrive and 500 horsepower, we ended up second in the class with a 165 horsepower car.
    I think we tore it up pretty good up there, and for me it was a great challenge to learn something new, which I always wanted to try out, and I give a lot of respect to the rally guys out there for listening to the notes and not knowing how the roads are. It was awesome, and it was good to stay behind the wheel in the downtime, which I got to do because we had the two month break between GRC events. So that was helpful for me.

  • Brian Deegan is currently fighting for the championship in the Pro 2 class in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, where he’s taken four wins in 14 starts. Last weekend at Las Vegas, Deegan took finishes of seventh and fourth in the two main events.

Image via @GronholmM

  • Marcus Gronholm continues to recuperate from serious injuries suffered in his practice crash at X Games. According to comments in a press release from his sponsor, Gronholm is feeling well but cannot be cleared by his doctors to compete again until October at the earliest.
  • Returning home to England during the break, David Binks competed in the Suzuki Swift Rallycross Championship round at Lydden Hill on August 26-27, coming home sixth overall. He told us about the experience:

    I’d been back home, and it was great to see the family and friends. I’d been driving excavators and doing all sorts of things while I’d been back just to keep myself occupied, and doing some fitness things. But I just needed to get back in a car. I sort of needed that adrenaline rush. And back in England, this Bank Holiday is the biggest weekend in British rallycross.
    I’ve still got an old Supercar, a Mitsubishi Evo 9 Supercar that I used to race back in 2008-9, but I didn’t want to wheel out an underpowered supercar. So I thought, “Well, what else can I drive?” I rang the guys that run the Suzuki Swift championship and said “Have you got a car?” They said “Yeah, we’ve got a car, do you want to drive?” And I said “Yeah, I’ll come out and play.” So we went out and played in that, and it was good. It’s not a quick car, but it’s good fun.

  • Ken Block has been competing in numerous stage rallies across the globe, scoring wins in the Canadian Rallyé Defi from September 8-10 and Rally America’s famed Olympus Rally last weekend. Block also ran as high as 10th in the World Rally Championship event in Finland before a broken control arm bracket knocked him out on the third day of the event.

Capture via Audi “Return to Snake River Canyon”

  • Audi kept Stephan Verdier busy during his break, taking him to the fabled Snake River Canyon to perform stunts in a commercial that launched the new RS5—literally, into the canyon—and became an immediate internet hit. Verdier, who was featured prominently in the video (a practice uncommon for most stunt drivers in commercials), also did some work as a driver coach for the brand in the following weeks.
  • Andy Scott competed in his own roving tour of rallycross in Europe, competing in three ERC events and the marquee French round at Circuit de Loheac in a Ford Focus for Tony Bardy Motorsport. His best finish came in France, where he placed a respectable sixth; he’ll head to Germany this weekend instead of Las Vegas for the ERC finale.
  • Perhaps no driver had a better “summer vacation” than Rhys Millen, who set a world record in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and launched a new racing specification, Formula Cross. Millen’s 9:46.161 run in the Hyundai Genesis beat second place Romain Dumas to the summit by less than a second, while his Formula Cross vehicle takes all of the excitement of riding an ATV and adds an unprecedented level of safety for a four-wheel off-road vehicle.
  • Travis Pastrana competed in a handful of NASCAR Nationwide Series and K&N Pro Series East events, landing a one-off ride with the esteemed Roush Fenway Racing at Richmond in early September. But Pastrana’s most high-profile event might have been the launch of Nitro Circus 3D, the full-length movie version of his popular MTV show that features the action sports collective performing a number of stunts.

Image via Liam Doran Facebook

  • Liam Doran ranks third in ERC points, with a best finish of second in the three rounds between Loudon and now. Doran will actually skip this weekend’s race at Las Vegas to finish the ERC season, where he will attempt to wrestle second in the championship away from Foust.
  • Legendary skateboarder-turned-rallycross racer Bucky Lasek took part in the Dew Tour event in his home state of Maryland from August 16-19, taking a pair of silver medals in Skate Bowl and Vert.
  • Finally, Toomas Heikkinen has spent the past few months recuperating from his injuries at X Games. Topi will be back in action this weekend at Las Vegas, driving the fifth Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta.

– Chris Leone

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