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GRC Insider: Five Drivers Battle For Third In Championship

Image via Rhys Millen Racing

The battle for this year’s Global Rallycross Championship may be down to two drivers, Olsbergs MSE and Rockstar Energy teammates Tanner Foust and Brian Deegan, but there’s a wide open battle for third place brewing behind them.

Currently, Samuel Hubinette holds the spot with 50 points, but four drivers—Ken Block, Rhys Millen, Stephan Verdier, and David Binks—are within eight points of the position. Theoretically speaking, any of them could leave SEMA with the third spot on the championship podium.

Hubinette will leave SEMA with at least 55 points, given his 50 points plus a drop score of five from Las Vegas last month. The Eklund Motorsport driver has shown an ability to run up front when the car is working well, but the Saab’s durability has proven an issue; mechanical failures took him out of contention at both Texas and Las Vegas. But with another run like his runner-up performance at New Hampshire, which saw him briefly take second in points, third won’t be changing hands.

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

But the drivers behind Hubinette will be looking to steal the spot, and Block is first among them. The X Games silver medalist won his first heat race of the season at Las Vegas to climb to fourth, and will look to put another Ford Fiesta in the top three in points with a strong run at SEMA. He has 49 points, dropping the two he scored at Charlotte.

The next two drivers share a pair of Hyundai Velosters, in what will likely be their final race as the brand ends its North American motorsport involvement. First is team owner and lead driver Millen, who has competed in four of five races this year, scoring 48 points. He’s never finished worse than sixth in his starts. However, he’s yet to crack the podium this year, placing fourth at both Texas and X Games for his best finishes of the year.

Image via Rhys Millen Racing

In his first year as Millen’s teammate, Verdier scored a third place finish at the season opener at Charlotte before struggling to run up front with an underpowered engine for a few rounds. He rebounded with a fifth place run at Las Vegas, marked by taking the shortcut to pass multiple cars on the last lap, though the drop score takes him out of a tie for fourth in points and leaves him in sole possession of sixth with 46. Jumping three spots would mean the world to the former privateer, who has indicated his pleasure with Rhys Millen Racing on multiple occasions this year.

For Binks, third place would mean would mean two things: an Olsbergs sweep of the top three spots in points, and a bit of luck that he’s been desperately waiting for all season. “We didn’t have any luck whatsoever in Vegas!” he exclaimed in our last interview, and such was the case; for the first time all year, he failed to make it to the main event at Las Vegas. Those three points currently serve as his drop score, and he ranks eighth overall with 42 points.

All five drivers are likely to make the final at SEMA, which will feature a depleted entry list with the absence of Travis Pastrana. Third in the championship will likely come down to which of these drivers scores the highest finish on Tuesday. Given the tight and unpredictable nature of the track, that’s going to come down to whoever has the best luck. In the GRC’s return to Vegas, all bets are off.

– Chris Leone

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