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Belgian Rallycross Star Sheds Light on M-Sport’s GRC Involvement

Image via M-Sport Facebook

Image via M-Sport Facebook

Though his name is not well-known on this side of the world, Belgian rallycross star Michaël de Keersmaecker is a fixture in the European Rallycross Championship, having finished fifth in that series this year on the strength of numerous main event appearances. According to the ERC24.com Facebook, de Keersmaecker has shared some information about the European series for next season after meeting with M-Sport and new ERC promoter IMG, best known as the organization that handles promotion of Formula 1.

Included was an interesting tidbit about the M-Sport rallycross program for 2013. “M-Sport is doing a full GRC programme with a new car for Ken Block, who is also set to use a Wildcard three times [in the 2013 FIA/IMG RX series],” de Keersmaecker wrote. “M-Sport is currently not planning to appear in European Rallycross, but a future RX programme in Europe is possible.”

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

Block, who finished fifth in the 2012 Global Rallycross Championship, switched from Subaru to Ford in 2010. He won two Rally America events and one Canadian Rally Championship event in 2012, adding a silver medal at X Games along the way. Block’s three Wildcard appearances in the reworked FIA Rallycross Championship, sponsored by longtime Block backer Monster Energy, will be his first in European-style rallycross, which does not feature jumps as the GRC does.

M-Sport had been rumored to put emphasis on rallycross for 2013 after Ford’s announcement that it would no longer provide factory support for the World Rally Championship after this season. But the team secured backing from the State of Qatar, enabling it to contest the WRC with four cars for next season, and that is where its priority will remain. However, longtime M-Sport driver Petter Solberg may be considering a rallycross ride for 2013; in this Jalopnik interview, conducted last week, Solberg would only say “we’ll see…” when asked.

—Chris Leone

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SST Gains Momentum With Ticket Sales, Metal Ramps

Image via Stadium Super Trucks Twitter

Image via Stadium Super Trucks Twitter

Various posts from around the internet suggest that Robby Gordon’s newest racing venture, Stadium Super Trucks, is on pace for a strong debut season in 2013.

Tickets for the series’ first three events—held at University of Phoenix Stadium, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum—are now on sale. Phoenix and Los Angeles tickets can be purchased online through Ticketmaster, while Long Beach tickets can be purchased at the GPLB website, or in person at each respective event’s box office. The competitions will be held on April 6, April 21, and April 27, respectively, and feature the marquee Stadium Super Trucks, ATVs, UTVs, and the famed Bigfoot monster truck.

Meanwhile, Gordon and his team have been developing the Stadium Super Truck model, testing it over the past few weeks on a metal ramp akin to the one used in this year’s Global Rallycross Championship. The metal jump is guaranteed to appear at the Long Beach round, although it’s likely that most of the stadium-based events will feature dirt jumps.

Though it’s early to speculate on a driver lineup, interactions with the brand within the past few weeks may provide insights on who will compete. Gordon seems like a no-brainer to race in his own series, while this year’s Baja 1000 winner, B.J. Baldwin, and freestyle motocross star Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg have posted photos of the SST in the past few weeks. Arie Luyendyk Jr., son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk and former “The Bachelor” contestant, has also changed his Twitter cover photo to one of him testing an SST.

—Chris Leone

GRC Season Review: Bryce Menzies, Part 2

Photo credit: Atiba Jefferson/Red Bull Content Pool

Photo credit: Atiba Jefferson/Red Bull Content Pool

When Bryce Menzies made his Global Rallycross Championship debut at X Games, it was also the first time that he’d made the switch from desert and short course truck racing to rallycross. Driving a second Dodge Dart alongside Travis Pastrana, Menzies finished 14th in his one-off ride at X Games.

But after wrapping up the Traxxas TORC Series’ Pro 2 championship for the second year in a row, Menzies got the call to drive for Pastrana once again in the GRC season finale at SEMA. This time, however, he’d be driving for a team whose prospects were completely different than at X Games. Pastrana took a popular win at New Hampshire, but he also elected for season-ending shoulder surgery after the Las Vegas round, meaning Menzies would be the team’s only driver.

In part two of our season review, Menzies discusses racing his way into the main event at SEMA, his appearance in the Red Bull Kluge video (see above), and what he has in mind for 2013:

On TV, Travis talked about the difference in the car this season before and after testing, and he gave you a ton of credit for helping develop it. Did the car feel significantly different at SEMA than it did at X Games?

Yeah—Travis took the car from X Games, and they tested with it a bunch and made it a lot better. I think with those cars you’ve got to change with every single track you go to. You’ve got to change the setup. And I think with me and Travis, two drivers, you always have a better shot at hitting the right setup. We’re trying both ends of the spectrum, and then we’ll come back and talk to each other and figure out what we like and what we didn’t.

Throughout the year, it’s a brand new car, the Dodge Dart’s first season, so we’ve just been making a bunch of changes trying to get notes on what the car likes on asphalt and on dirt. So from X Games to SEMA, the car got a lot better, probably 70% better, so it’s just going to go even farther from there, and I’m looking forward to next season.

Image via K&N Filters

Image via K&N Filters

Your battle with Samuel Hubinette in the second heat was one of the most exciting head-to-head races of the season, and you managed to advance directly into the final. What was your strategy in trying to pass him?

That heat race was one of the great ones that we had. We felt that we had some speed, we made some changes for that heat races that really helped the car. Going into the heat race, you just want to make it into the final. I felt like we were faster than Samuel but there’s no reason to push and try to wreck us both out. When you’re in those battles, you’ve gotta find a way around and not bully someone too much into hitting each other and smashing into each other. It’s a lot of strategy—when to use the joker, when to take the regular route. I think that’s what I’m still learning about rallycross. I’m trying to figure out ways to pass and use strategy and set up the cars. We’re still trying to figure that out, but it was a really good heat race for us.

When you got to the final, in the second attempt, you had a spin on the first lap. Did an issue from the first attempt at the final cause that? Is there anything you would’ve done differently in either attempt?

In the final, one of the things is that I really need to work on is the start. In Global Rallycross, it’s a huge key to winning these races to get off the start. I struggled a little bit there, and once you get in the pack it’s so hard to pass and make moves on guys, so that’s probably one thing that I would’ve liked to do a little bit better. And then you get up front a little bit better and run with the good guys. That’s one thing we’re going to work on this offseason, and hopefully bring back ready for next year.

Photo credit: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool

Photo credit: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool

A couple of weeks ago we saw you appear in the Red Bull Kluge video. When did that shoot take place and what was the process like?

At Red Bull, they’ve been working on the Kluge video for a while. They came up to me about it, I saw it all on paper, and it came together in October at El Toro Airbase. And what cooler event can you get 15 huge athletes together and make this huge event happen? I think it’s up to 12 million views now.

It was an all day process. I was in the truck for over eight hours, just for that little clip of mine. But when you’re making those movies, or shoots like that, that’s kind of what takes place. I’m just super lucky to be a part of Red Bull, and they always push the limits, try new stuff, and do some cool stuff with all their athletes. It was a really cool video, and I’m glad that everybody’s liking it.

Finally, we noticed during Pastrana’s interview that he showed interest in running you full-time in the series next year. Assumedly you’re running a full schedule of desert and short-course events next year, but is a full-time GRC ride something that you would consider?

Photo credit: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

Photo credit: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

You know something, once I got in the GRC car, I fell in love with it. It’s so much fun. I’m working with my sponsors and Travis Pastrana’s, talking back and forth and trying to figure out if we can make it work. I’m also running a full desert season and a full short course season, so I just want to make sure it’s right for me and if we have enough time to do it. So we’re in the process of talking about it. I really want to get back and show that our team is capable of winning races, as Travis did. At New Hampshire, he put that thing on the box. So it’d be really cool to get back, get in that car, and try to make it a two-team deal next year. Hopefully we’ll be out there at the first race!

Bryce Menzies is on both Twitter and Instagram at @BryceMenzies7, as well as Facebook. For more on Bryce and his other racing endeavors, be sure to visit the Menzies Motorsports and Red Bull websites.

—Chris Leone

GRC Season Review: Bryce Menzies, Part 1

Photo credit: Dan Busta/Red Bull Content Pool

Photo credit: Dan Busta/Red Bull Content Pool

Having made a name for himself by winning both the SCORE Off-Road Championship and Traxxas TORC Series’ Pro 2 Class in 2011, Mesa, Arizona’s Bryce Menzies decided to add another challenge to his already busy schedule in 2012. When fellow Red Bull driver Travis Pastrana needed a driver for his second Dodge Dart at X Games, Menzies jumped at the opportunity, stepping into the No. 99 Red Bull/Discount Tire car with limited seat time.

He demonstrated enough skill in that X Games run that when Pastrana elected to undergo shoulder surgery before the Global Rallycross Championship season finale at SEMA, Menzies was the only choice to replace him. Again, Menzies stepped into the car and transitioned nicely, this time appearing in his first GRC final round after a strong showing in the heat race.

After running the Baja 1000 once again, Menzies sat down with us at the Menzies Motorsports shop to talk about how busy he’s been this year, differences in driving style from short course to rallycross, and debuting on the big stage of X Games:

You just scored a top-10 finish in this year’s Baja 1000 a couple of weeks ago. You won your second consecutive Baja 500 and the TORC Pro 2 championship, you made your rallycross debut at X Games, and you even took Tim Lincecum for a ride around Firebird Raceway in the trophy truck all the way back in March. How much fun has this year been for you?

Yeah, we’ve had a really busy year, but it’s also been a lot of fun. I’ve been lucky to be able to run desert, which I started out in, into short course, backed up our Pro 2 championship and won the Baja 500 again. We really were focusing on the Baja 1000 and it just didn’t play out as we thought—we came away, I think, seventh overall. It’s just been a fun season.

Image via Race-Dezert.com

Image via Race-Dezert.com

And also we got to jump into a rally car. I probably got the call about a week before X Games to drive Pastrana’s second car. I didn’t have too much seat time, but once I got into the thing, I knew it was a blast and I had to do it. It was so much fun. I just needed some more seat time, trying to get figured out all-wheel drive compared to two-wheel drive, what I’m used to. And then they called me back and I got to drive the last event out at SEMA. We made some pretty good adjustments, I got a little more seat time in the car. We ended up third in one of the heat races, and then in the main we broke so we didn’t have the best luck. But hopefully next year (I’m) looking forward to getting back in the Global Rallycross car and trying to do a little bit better in it.

We know you’re a relative newcomer to rallycross, and that desert and short-course truck racing has been your forte. But you’ve seemed to catch on pretty quickly. Are there a lot of aspects of your truck driving style that adapt well to rallycross?

From short course to rally, you’ve got to be super aggressive, and I think that’s one of the things I kind of lacked going into Global Rallycross. The car is all-wheel drive, so you have to drive like, Pastrana was telling me, you have to drive the crap out of them. You’ve got to drive them to the limit. In the Pro 2, which I race in short course, you (need) a lot of finesse, you’ve got to be really smooth. So just trying to transition myself from driving one to the other, taking my aggression a lot higher in the rally car and driving a lot harder, was a little hard for me at the beginning. But I think I slowly was figuring it out and getting a little hand for it. Hopefully, just getting some more seat time, I’ll be up there on the podium with that thing.

Photo credit: Alex Huff

Photo credit: Alex Huff

You debuted at X Games in the Dodge Dart in what was a hectic weekend for you and the team. Regardless of all of the drama and bad luck on race day, did you enjoy the X Games experience?

Yeah, you know, X Games is something I grew up watching on TV. When I got the call to drive the car at X Games, it was unbelievable. There’s a lot of added pressure going into it—just the hype of X Games, and knowing I’d be racing it—so the goal was just to go in and have fun, and take the experience as what it is. I had a blast, and you couldn’t ask for a better teammate than Travis Pastrana, X Games ace. When you think action sports, his name comes up. I had a great time there, I just wish we both would have done a little bit better, but we took it as we did and had a lot of fun doing it.

When you made your rallycross debut, you were racing alongside Travis Pastrana. At SEMA, though, you were replacing him. Did that affect the way you approached the week’s race events at all, without having a teammate?

Image via K&N Filters

Image via K&N Filters

Coming into SEMA, I got in the car and I’d driven it at X Games, so I knew we had a good shot. We did some testing with the car, and being the only driver because Travis was hurt put a little more pressure (on). We knew we needed to do good not just for the team, but for all the sponsors that back the team, like Dodge, Red Bull, and KMC. We wanted to really put on a good show and I felt after qualifying—we didn’t qualify that good, but we made some changed to the car, softened up the suspension a little bit, and we came away third in the heat race. So we had high hopes going into the main.

But in rallycross, anything can happen. We went into turn one and me and Bucky (Lasek) got into it, and I got a flat tire, which broke the front drive also. So it didn’t turn out that good, but we also made some progress looking into the next year, that we do have the speed, and we’re capable of winning these things. We’ve just got to get the thing to play out and come into our hands.

Tomorrow, Menzies talks about how his races went at SEMA, the Red Bull Kluge video, and what he hopes to do in the 2013 season.

*A previous edition of this article said that Menzies had won the 2011 Baja 1000. He placed third in that event.

—Chris Leone

Ford’s “Tournament of Ovals” Allows Fans To Vote For GRC Drivers

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

Five of Ford’s Global Rallycross Championship drivers are currently taking part in the brand’s Tournament of Ovals, a Facebook competition in which fans can vote for the most popular driver to represent the American brand.

34 drivers overall are represented in the six-round bracket, which kicked off on December 1 with a play-in round that featured Olsbergs MSE’s Toomas Heikkinen beating World Rally driver Mads Ostberg for a spot in the first round. He joined teammates Marcus Gronholm, Brian Deegan, and Tanner Foust, as well as Monster World Rally Team driver Ken Block, in the bracket by virtue of the victory.

Ford separated its bracket into four divisions, representing its NASCAR, NHRA, and sports car (Grand-Am and V8 Supercars) divisions, with the fourth division representing all other series. As such, there’s no chance at an all-GRC final; however, at least one GRC driver will make it into the second round.

Here’s a schedule of voting matchups, which change nightly at 10PM ET:

  • December 2: Brian Deegan vs. Justin Pawlak (Formula Drift)
  • December 4: Ken Block vs. Toomas Heikkinen
  • December 6: Tanner Foust vs. Chris Duplessis (Rally America)
  • December 8: Marcus Gronholm vs. Vaughn Gittin Jr. (Formula Drift)
  • December 12: Block/Heikkinen vs. Foust/Duplessis
  • December 16: Deegan/Pawlak vs. Gronholm/Gittin Jr.
  • December 20: GRC bracket final
  • December 23: GRC bracket winner vs. sports car bracket winner
  • December 26-31: Finals

—Chris Leone

GRC Insider: November Off-Season Roundup

Image via Rhys Millen Racing Facebook

Image via Rhys Millen Racing Facebook

November may be the first week of the Global Rallycross Championship offseason, but that doesn’t mean that its drivers are all taking time off. In fact, this past month has seen many of the series’ stars taking on a diverse slate of responsibilities that have seen them travel across the world.

  • Two GRC competitors took part in this year’s Baja 1000: defending race champion Bryce Menzies in a SCORE Trophy Truck, and Liam Doran in a Baja Challenge vehicle. Menzies finished eighth overall, while Doran’s team, led by Rodrigo Ampudia Jr., finished fifth in class. After leaving Baja, Doran participated in the Monster Energy Rallycross Experience at Lydden Hill, giving rides in his ERC Citroen DS3.
  • Series champion Tanner Foust has had a busy month, mostly filming new episodes of Top Gear America with co-hosts Rutledge Wood and Adam Ferrara. He also took time to shake down his signature edition 2013 Ford Focus ST at former GRC venue Irwindale Speedway, as well as making a sponsor-related visit to Homestead-Miami Speedway for NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend.
  • Foust hasn’t been the only GRC driver doing work on behalf of Ford, however, as Ken Block helped Ford reveal a brand new 2014 Fiesta ST at the Los Angeles Auto Show by drifting through Universal Studios. It’s not the first time Block has taken his car through Universal, though; it’s where Gymkhana Four was shot. Ford also revealed that Octane Academy, its competition featuring Block, Foust, Brian Deegan, and Formula Drift competitor Vaughn Gittin Jr., would be broadcast on NBC Sports next year.
  • Image via Brian Deegan Instagram

    Image via Brian Deegan Instagram

    Deegan has been embracing his role as a supportive father, helping son Haiden’s (“Danger Boy”) racing career and riding alongside him when he can. Deegan also announced an appearance at a Monster Jam event at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, MN, driving the Metal Mulisha monster truck.

  • Two-time Formula Drift champion Samuel Hubinette announced that he will return to his iconic Dodge Challenger on December 8 for Red Bull Drift Shifters on Victoria Street in Auckland, New Zealand. Hubinette will join defending Formula Drift champion Diego Saito and up-and-coming driver Matt Powers to take on a field of New Zealand’s finest.
  • Speaking of New Zealand, Rhys Millen returned home to compete in the Silver Fern Rally in a Group B-spec 1984 Mazda RX7. The car, which had been built by Mazda’s factory rally team for the World Rally Championship, had actually been driven by Rhys’ father Rod in the 1985 British round of the WRC. Unfortunately, transmission failure eliminated Millen from the rally at Stage 23.
  • Finally, Travis Pastrana’s shoulder surgery didn’t prevent him from taking part in this year’s Big Buck Hunter World Championships in New York City. Pastrana and Team Whiskey Throttle were among dozens of players to compete for $50,000 in prize money, but having to shoot left-handed certainly didn’t help this year’s New Hampshire race winner; Pastrana came home 58th in the field of 64.

—Chris Leone

Millen Puts GRC-Spec Hyundais Up For Sale

Image via Rhys Millen Racing Facebook

After ending its partnership with manufacturer Hyundai at the finish of the 2012 racing season, Rhys Millen Racing has announced that it will be putting its two Global Rallycross Championship-spec Hyundai Velosters up for sale on January 1.

The two cars have competed in the past two seasons’ worth of GRC competition, and have seen Millen, Stephan Verdier, Marcus Dodd, and Robbie Maddison behind the wheel. Millen finished third and fourth in the past two GRC championships in the primary car, while Verdier took the second car to sixth in points after joining the team this year.

The two RMR-prepared Hyundais made 11 combined starts this season, making nine main event appearances and scoring two podiums in the season opener at Charlotte and season finale at SEMA. Those results were good enough for second in the manufacturers’ championship, beating Subaru for the position by 19 points despite running two cars compared to Subaru’s three.

RMR is also offering a 2001 World Rally Championship-spec Hyundai Accent that had been purchased for rallycross spares.

—Chris Leone

GRC Holiday Shopping Guide

Image via HPI Racing

Thanksgiving has come and gone, which means only one thing: it’s time for a month’s worth of Christmas shopping. While Global Rallycross Championship fans won’t find a centralized online store with which to make their Christmas lists, it’s not too difficult to find merchandise for most of your favorite teams and drivers. Allow us to be your guide:

  • You shouldn’t have any problem at all finding a good assortment of Ken Block gear, whether in the DC Shoes store or the Hoonigan online shop. DC offers a strong assortment of Block-themed shoes, while Hoonigan’s go-to product, the “Ain’t Care” shirt, showcases Block driving in the GRC finale at SEMA with the inside of his car on fire.
  • The folks at Puma have greatly expanded their line of Zombie Cat merchandise, celebrating the Subaru Puma Rallycross Team. Fans of Sverre Isachsen will be happy to notice a lot more blue in the mix, as there are now T-shirts available in all three drivers’ colorways, while fans can still pick up the Halloween-themed shoe.
  • Olsbergs MSE gear is available to fans in Europe, but the cost of both the hats and shirts themselves and shipping to America may be a bit prohibitive. OMSE drivers Tanner Foust (through Etnies) and Brian Deegan (through Metal Mulisha) have their own online stores as well. Deegan also lends his name to a line of shoes through DVS.
  • Rhys Millen Racing has plenty of options to choose from, including T-shirts, hats, hoodies, and more. Of course, if you’ve got enough money lying around, you can also buy yourself a Formula Cross ATV to joyride around in.
  • Travis Pastrana’s online store, also through DC, features tons of Boost Mobile-themed gear from his foray into NASCAR. Interestingly enough, though, there aren’t any Red Bull or Dodge-themed products available; there is, however, some Rockstar-themed gear. Speculate at will.
  • Finally, if you’d like to indulge your inner rallycross superstar and have some money to burn, you can buy remote-controlled versions of two of the top cars in the series. Atomik RC manufactures Brian Deegan’s Ford Fiesta in 1/18th scale, as well as his trophy truck and dirtbike. HPI Racing makes a 1/8th scale version of Ken Block’s Ford Fiesta HFHV in its Gymkhana Five livery, while Hot Wheels makes a scaled-down version of its own featuring a fantasy livery inspired by the Gymkhana Four car. Traxxas, meanwhile, manufactures its own rally vehicle in both 1/10th and 1/16th scales; more creative fans can repaint the body to better reflect their favorite driver’s car.

—Chris Leone

GRC Season Review: Pat Moro, Part 2

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

For Pat Moro and PMR Motorsports, the 2012 Global Rallycross Championship season represented an uphill battle. Running older equipment on a shoestring budget, positives were few and far between early in the season, especially when the team missed X Games for financial reasons.

But not long after, the No. 59 Subaru WRX STi, the result of PMR’s technical work and the marketing help of Michael Crawford Motorsports, began making strides towards competitiveness. Moro finished 12th in New Hampshire and 11th at Las Vegas, and was fast enough in its first heat race at SEMA to suggest that a main event appearance shouldn’t be too far off.

In the second part of our season review, Moro gives his overall assessment of the season, while also hinting at his 2013 plans:

You finished 16th overall in points, with a couple of strong heat and LCQ performances. Given the limited budget you had to run with, are you satisfied with what you were able to do? Or are you more frustrated that the budget didn’t allow you to be more competitive?

Image via Michael Crawford Motorsports Facebook

I’m not really too satisfied with the performance—I think that we’ve had to be very cautious with everything. It’d be great if we secured a bigger budget moving into next year, that would be the biggest difference. I think that it’s a little rough to say, but we didn’t have the budget to do testing any of the dates before the races. We’d like to secure enough (of a) budget so we can go there a little bit ahead of time and do some. You hear about everybody else doing testing at this place or that place two or three days before the event and we just didn’t have the budget to do that. I think that’s a key part in making us run better.

The other thing is, we really have to look after the equipment with the little budget that we have. And that kind of affects it. You know, with a factory ride, you can pretty much just leave it all hanging out, and then everything’s fixed. If we lose a motor—we have a spare gearbox and stuff, but if we lose a motor, then we’re done for that event. So we have to be very cautious of that. And I think that affected our performance a lot.

I think that the last round we should have been in the main. I felt like we should have been into the main in New Hampshire, but like I said, there were some growing pains that we were going through there. I feel that we’ll be stronger in the future, and a consistent player into the main.

Image via Michael Crawford Motorsports Facebook

We saw a couple of major accidents by other privateer teams in the final two rounds of the season. You’ve said you’re pretty confident with the jump, but did you ever stop for a minute and rethink that in the wake of those incidents?

It’s really never been a problem for me. I just try to look at it as, I have a little bit of experience on motorcycles, so I think once you’re committed to that jump, you have to fully be committed. I would say that those accidents were situations where those guys weren’t completely, fully committed to that jump, and I believe that they somewhat panicked. Once you commit to doing it, you have to be fully committed and just do it.

In my opinion, on the jump, everybody’s so worried about that crucial speed. I don’t think it’s the crucial speed as much as jumping is a feel thing—you try to do it from the seat of your pants. But it’s never really been a concern for me. Maybe I’m not smart enough to think that much ahead! (laughs) But I think the jump is something that we’ve done (for) years and years at X Games, and to me it’s a little bit old hat. It doesn’t mean that we can’t make a mistake on it, everybody can make a mistake, and it’s an unfortunate thing.

I hope those guys recover from it well and it doesn’t deter them from coming back. But for me, you commit to it, you do it, and you don’t think any more about it. The more you think about it, you psyche yourself out.

Image via Michael Crawford Motorsports Facebook

The GRC obviously grew and expanded over the course of the season, and the series looked different in the finale at SEMA than it did in the opener at Charlotte. Overall, how do you think they handled race promotion and safety this year?

I think all the guys at GRC did a really good job with communications this year. What I don’t think everybody remembers is that those guys have a huge job that they’re doing and there’s so much that they need to look after. With everything there’s always growing pains. I think that as far as safety goes, if that refers back to the accidents that have happened this year, the thing is so new that there’s always going to be stuff that’s unforeseen, or that needs to be looked after. They have made adjustments, and I think they’re always looking for adjustments.

But I think when you look at the safety, you look at a European rallycross car, which was never meant to do the jump, or meant to be in the tight confines that we are putting these cars in. I think these cars, with the GRC stuff, will progress, be a little bit stronger, and progress in the safety features of the car. But everybody that’s really had some big crashes has come away—I wouldn’t say unhurt, but for the type of crash that they’ve had, they’ve come away pretty good, in my opinion. I think that they’ve definitely looked at it.

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

I think the guys at SMI, when we went to New Hampshire, did a great job of putting on a great show, and I thought they did a pretty good job down there at Texas. And they started to implement the dirt. When we started the season at Charlotte, we didn’t really have any dirt, and we went down to Texas and didn’t have any dirt, but we had the jump. And it’s progressively gotten better every event. And I think the more obstacles that you put in with these cars, you’ll see what they’re really capable of doing. But when we went to Charlotte, you didn’t even see a quarter of what the car can do, compared to later in the season, when they started to show a little bit more of their capabilities and they got to be way more exciting to watch.

Finally, what are your thoughts on the 2013 season? Are you planning to build a new car or bring back this year’s model? What are your thoughts on the schedule for next year with the Global X Games rounds?

Image via Michael Crawford Motorsports Facebook

The Global rounds sound great. There’s still a big question of who’s going and who’s not going. Those dates are approaching very fast. Our plans for next year are, we’re planning to build a new car. We’re still trying to secure the money, the sponsorship to finish the build of the car, we’ve actually already started on the car. I really don’t want to say what kind of car it is at this time, but we have started on a new car. It’s just, if we can secure enough money to complete the car. If that would be ready for the first couple of Global Rallycross (rounds) or not, I’m not sure. It depends on the finances of the whole thing.

But we feel that the current car is too big of a car, too heavy of a car, and the H-pattern gearbox is not going to make it a competitive car. It’s a decent car, but the plans are starting with a new sheet of paper, so to speak, putting the new car together, and making it something that’s very competitive with the Fords.

Pat Moro can be found on Twitter @59moro. PMR Motorsports maintains a Facebook page, Twitter @PMRMotorsports, and website. Michael Crawford Motorsports, which provided a marketing partnership for Moro in the second half of this season, can be found on Facebook here.

—Chris Leone

GRC Season Review: Pat Moro, Part 1

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

Running a competitive team in the Global Rallycross Championship isn’t the easiest of tasks, even for a factory-supported organization. But Ohio’s Pat Moro, a longtime Rally America competitor and two-time Production GT champion in that series, is attempting to do just that with his privateer team, PMR Motorsports.

Campaigning the No. 59 Subaru WRX STi in five of six GRC events this season, Moro carried the backing of S4 Optics earlier in the season before entering a marketing partnership with Michael Crawford Motorsports later in the season. Las Vegas and SEMA saw PMR representing brands like Venom Energy, In-Vest USA, and VP Racing Fuels, all while posting some of its most competitive runs of the season. Despite running with a fraction of the budget that the top GRC teams possess, Moro’s team appeared to be on the verge of breaking out.

In the first part of our season review, Moro discusses switching to rallycross from stage rally, succeeding in the transition to the mechanical jump, and making the most out of his team’s finances:

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

You’ve been competitive in stage rally for years, but this year your focus was completely on rallycross and the GRC. When did you decide to make that switch, and how different are the cars you’re racing now from the ones you prepared for Rally America?

These cars—we have two cars that we pretty much put together originally for rallycross, because in stage rally we’ve always done the production-based class cars. That’s one of the issues with going to X Games, we’ve always qualified in a production-based car, (instead of) an open class car or a rallycross car. We actually built those cars two years ago and then made some other changes to the cars to make them more competitive for rallycross.

We pretty much figured at the beginning of last year that we were going to start focusing on rallycross and drift away from stage rally, which was a hard decision for me to make because stage rally has always been a pretty near and dear thing to my heart. We figured that this is the avenue that’s going to have the most growth for us and the direction we needed to go.

Image via Michael Crawford Motorsports Facebook

Some of the sponsorship on your car this year appeared to come over from the Michael Crawford Motorsports organization. How and when did that partnership come about?

We ran into (MCM) at Texas and talked a little bit, and it kind of came about last minute. It’s not really a full done deal by any stretch of the imagination. They brought a little more of a marketing side to us and not so much the technical side. It’s more of a marketing partnership than on the technical side yet because pretty much anything we’ve done we do in-house. So far the technology has been all stuff that we have.

You actually ran two cars at Charlotte, one for you and one for Tim Rooney. Was there any benefit from a data-gathering standpoint to running a second car in the season opener?

Actually, we found out that with the limited budget that we had, it’s probably better for us to back down to one car. We’re not spending twice as much money to get the other car up to the same things that we’re trying, so we found out that it’s beneficial to back down and concentrate on one car than it is to try and run two cars with the budget that we have.

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

Texas marked the debut of the mechanical jump, as opposed to the dirt jump that we saw at X Games and other GRC events in the past. Did you have to make major adjustments from using one surface to the other?

You know, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal at all, because your trajectory is pretty much the same. When your car leaves the ramp, you’re pretty much just a passenger at that point. The only thing that was a little bit different was the dirt absorbs the jump a little bit better when you land on it, so it’s a little bit smoother of a landing. It’s a little bit harder (on the ramp), but it was no problem to adjust to it at all.

The question arriving at the SEMA event was, what speed do you have to hit the jump at now that we’ve gone back to dirt? Pretty much all that stuff stays the same. So for me, at least, it wasn’t a big change for me to go from the dirt to mechanical, and the mechanical back to dirt. I thought it was pretty similar for us.

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

We’ve seen you compete at X Games plenty of times before, but this year it was the only round of the championship that you missed. Why weren’t you there, and was it frustrating to skip a major event like that?

That was more of a financial situation there for us. An opportunity came available for us if we sat back, it became a little bit better financially for us to not be there. It was a little frustrating because obviously you always want to be there and competing, but it worked out and gave us a lot more strength for the end of the season. It gave us money to finish out the season a little bit stronger than what we had.

It definitely seemed like the car was a lot faster in the second half of the season. Were there any significant changes that you made to the car as the season progressed?

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

A lot! Being that we had a limited budget, we don’t really have a budget to be doing testing. So all of our testing is actually at the event. When we were at New Hampshire, we thought we had some things figured out—there are a lot of things to learn about the rallycross car compared to the stage rally cars. These cars were a measuring stick, but we made a lot of changes from there.

The biggest change and the biggest help, I have to give some credit to Garrett. They came on board, stepped up, and helped us out with their engineering and some different stuff with the turbos. So at the last round the car was pretty competitive, a lot closer than it’s been at any of the other events. I have to give credit where it’s due. Our guys are understanding the car more, and the more we log that stuff and play with those numbers the better it’ll get.

I think the biggest difference in competitiveness with the car right now is we’re running the H-pattern gearbox, and everybody else is using a sequential. So I think that’s our biggest downfall right now.

Coming up, Moro discusses the second half of his season, going back to the dirt jump at SEMA, and his thoughts on the 2013 season.

—Chris Leone