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 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

GRC Season Review: Samuel Hubinette, Part 2

Image via Samuel Hubinette Racing Facebook

After three consecutive final appearances in the first three rounds of the Global Rallycross Championship season, Samuel Hubinette entered July’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the only driver to win a heat race at all three events. He also ranked fifth in points, only 15 behind leader Tanner Foust, and seemed ready for a breakout performance after mechanical issues robbed him of solid finishes at Texas and X Games.

It would come immediately, with a well-earned second place run at Loudon. Though Hubinette’s streak of heat victories ended in New Hampshire, the podium run had him and his No. 77 ENEOS Oil Saab 9-3 crew thinking about a challenge for the championship. Those dreams would evaporate after a painful weekend at Las Vegas that saw him miss the final due to boost issues and a flat tire in the last chance qualifier, but Hubinette would rebound with a strong run at SEMA to secure third in the championship.

Yesterday’s discussion covered the first half of Hubinette’s season. Today, we’ll talk about competing for the victory at New Hampshire, rebounding from disappointment at SEMA, and what he liked most about the series’ progression this year:

Your podium finish finally came at New Hampshire, when you ranked second. You did a lot of intense battling with Travis Pastrana there, and he said after the race that he felt like you had been a little nice to him, that you could have spun him out and gotten by, but you chose not to race him that way. Was there an opportunity for you to push that you chose not to take?

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

My overall feeling and my goal is to get over the finish line and not push or take too big of risks. In that case, taking the risk to pass him was too great, which could’ve put both of us out of the race, which would have been a disaster. So those kinds of things, it’s better to finish second instead of risking that, because we were so equal. Had he been much slower, then of course I would have tried much harder. But knowing that we were so equal in speed that day, time wise, it would have been very tough to come by him clean.

It’s just not in my nature to try and take out other guys. I think that I might need to step up my game, be a little tougher. I think that there’s an old habit from drifting for years, that you slide next to cars but you’re not supposed to touch them, you’re just kind of next to them and close to them. And that’s kind of in my genes now, having done it for eight years! In rallycross, it is the case to have some contact. So that’s something I’ve been thinking about, that I could actually step up my game a little bit up there, be a little more tough up there.

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

After the two and a half month break, you came into Las Vegas with a different team situation, losing a teammate. But it seemed like nothing went right that weekend, with the boost issues and losing a shot at the title. What were your thoughts after that weekend?

Yeah, at the first Vegas race we had I had a taste of a potential championship, being only 12 points behind Tanner. After that weekend, that was the toughest week of the whole season, because I lost the opportunity to be first in the championship. Pretty much, even second place was tough to reach. But it put me in a different mindset, that there was nothing to lose now, that it was more to go out and have fun, and to secure my third place for the championship.

I felt really relaxed for (SEMA), just had a really had a good time. We got some good testing put in, we nailed the jump right away, the car was set up, had a good feeling out there, and then we got some really cool changes with sway bars and shock adjustments. And all of those small details helped to get the car very drivable on that little type of go-kart track, as it was. Because it was hard to get the car to rotate around those corners without understeer. And there’s a fine line in tuning the car for good cornering and turning, and to having it set up for a good start, because in rallycross the start is just so important. To have a good start—you have a high percentage of winning the race.

Image via Samuel Hubinette Racing Facebook

It was very interesting. I learned a lot. It was great having Per (Eklund), to work with him this season, the legend from Sweden as he is. I’ve really enjoyed it, and finishing third was a big victory for us with what we had.

When we saw the restart in the SEMA final, it looked like you got off the line well. Then we saw you battle with Rhys Millen and eventually he got by you at the end of the first lap. Take us through the start of that race from your point of view.

What happened was, after the start I was in second place behind Tanner going into the shortcut. And he kind of came in really sideways, and almost spun out, and came out (on) the gravel track there. That kind of threw me off, and I also basically lost control and came in too short on the corner, ran over the gravel and put the car almost on the roof. That’s when Rhys got the opportunity to come pass me.

I knew I was quicker than him from earlier lap times, so I was just going to work myself up there and pass him. Unfortunately when I got close to him, I started to get some fuel cuts. The engine started to die on me on the long right hander passing the finish line. So every time I tried to get some contact with him, I got some misfiring from the engine and I had to just stay behind him, because I couldn’t get past him without having this issue happen all over again. So it was just another unfortunate thing.

But the good thing is I still finished third in the championship, which was very important for me. I missed out on the podium, but overall finishing third was what our goal was for the season. I mean, my goal was to win, but our goal at that time was to stay with our third place.

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

Final question: the GRC at the start of the season and the GRC we saw at SEMA appeared to be two almost completely different series, not only in driver roster but also in what the tracks themselves looked like. We saw a lot of improvements over the course of the year—what did you think was the best one?

I think we all support the GRC staff to get it right, and get it right as quick as possible. But for me, I think the gravel jump for the last event was really, really fantastic. I really enjoyed a gravel jump instead of mechanical, steel jump. It’s so much more forgiving on the car, using gravel. I think that they listen to us, and they finally got our group together to have meetings and delivering information to them, that they had to do some changes. Every time we’d walk the track and modify it for the best race that could possibly be done.

Samuel Hubinette can be found on Twitter @samuelhubinette. Be sure to check out his website and Facebook page.

—Chris Leone

GRC Season Review: Samuel Hubinette, Part 1

Image via Hazel PR

It wasn’t until the very weekend of the Global Rallycross Championship season opener at Charlotte Motor Speedway that Samuel Hubinette had nailed down a ride for 2012. Even then, it was only a one-race deal; he would drive the second Scott-Eklund Racing Saab 9-3 with sponsorship from ENEOS Oil and Magnaflow, with the rest of the season an uncertainty.

Two weeks later, after a fifth-place finish in the season opener, Hubinette was equipped with a full-season contract and exactly one weekend’s worth of seat time in the car. But the versatile stunt driver and two-time Formula Drift champion, armed with the Saab’s muscle and top speed, managed to run up front in nearly every subsequent race.

While the finishes didn’t always come, Hubinette still managed to score third place in championship points with 63, even as Scott-Eklund Racing dissolved and gave way to Eklund Motorsport in the final two races. In the first of a two-part interview, he talked to us about overcoming obstacles, racing without pressure, and staying positive as his team worked through the early-season kinks:

Image via Hazel PR

Your deal came together the Thursday before the race. You were with a privateer team that had no factory backing, driving an older and larger car. And despite all that, you managed to post a third place finish in the championship. How did you put together a consistent run like that all year?

I think it’s the combination of several things, that we ended up in third place. We had some ups and downs throughout the season, too—it wasn’t like we were flowing easy with no mechanical problems. I had those going on for me, too. At Charlotte I lost power steering in the A final, but still managed to get up to fifth place there. At Texas, we ran strong in second or third place but then the prop shaft broke. We moved on to X Games, and that’s where I was running really strong in the first A final, where I was in third place chasing Tanner (Foust). At that time (he) had power steering issues, so I felt like I was going to possibly pass him, but then we got a red flag and a restart. Then at the restart I was run into from behind in the first corner, got a flat tire, and got taken out there.

Then we moved to New Hampshire, and New Hampshire was the best race of the season, where there was no restart going on. I was fighting for first place and was happy finishing second there and being on the podium. It felt like a great bonus there with so much trial and error coming up to that event. After that we moved over to Las Vegas, where we really had a rough week. We had boost problems which unfortunately the team couldn’t quite figure out. So I didn’t have power in a regular start with the launch button and such, and then finishing up with a flat tire. We really had a lot of rough stuff… it’s amazing we finished third.

Image via Hazel PR

Then going into the last round, I got the short end (of the stick). I was the unlucky one, running in second place again behind Tanner, and then only a lap and a half away (from the finish) another red flag comes out. We did a full restart again. And after that full restart put me in my original starting spot, not where I was placed—I expected to be in second place, knowing I was running in second place. After that, I had some mishaps there, following Tanner, and ended up fourth place. But with a small budget, finishing third place for the whole season, that means many other teams having a lot of driving too, a lot of big crashes and such. It’s a combination of us running stronger than many other guys with multimillion dollar budgets. All of us are very happy that we could bring home third place for our sponsors, ENEOS, Magnaflow, Denso, and of course Eklund Motorsport after putting in so much effort here.

Your first practice in Charlotte was the first time you stepped into the Saab 9-3. I know you’ve driven all sorts of cars in your career, but how quickly did you adjust to this one?

To adapt to different vehicles has been my strength, which really helped me there. First of all, I had never done a full launch control start with this type of car, so just the start procedure and getting it right had to be learned really fast, and I didn’t get to do too many starts before the actual race because I did just roll into Charlotte the same day as qualifications, in the afternoon. At that time I hadn’t driven the car more than to the wrap company. I picked it up because we didn’t have time to roll down the trailer. I grabbed the car and drove it straight into the infield.

Image via Hazel PR

The positive thing was that I had no expectations on me. No one thought that I was going to do well at all with no seat time and also a car that hadn’t been sorted out for GRC. So that put me in a nice position where I could sort of be relaxed and just have fun, and I really did. I was having a blast! And to learn everything as quickly as I did, as quick as possible, really worked out well. I was running in third place into the last lap, where I got rear-ended and spun out and ended up finishing fifth in that race.

So that was a good start, and it was giving all of us a great boost to continue pushing strong and getting all the racing details figured out after that. That was a one weekend deal at the time. After that weekend, I had to go back and work on a season contract and all the financial aspects involved with that. It was a crazy, stressful time.

You got the full season deal done and continued to run strongly. You were running as high as second at both Texas and X Games before the mechanical issues at those tracks. But given the lack of results at the time, does that become frustrating that you’re running up front and having bad luck? Or was it something that made you say “we can be there, and the finishes are going to come eventually”?

You’ve got to just be mentally strong in racing, because if you take each technical problem too (hard) you’re going to go into depression and lose focus on achieving victories. When those things happen, you look at all the positive things, like you said. “Hey, you know, we were up there, we can be there as soon as we get all these different pieces together. That’s going to make a podium finish.” It really gave me hope to see that I was running up there in the top three several times. The red flag came out and a big restart happened, and then things went down and such. That’s how it is—just be a positive thinker and move forward.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2, in which Hubinette breaks down the second half of his season and more.

—Chris Leone

GRC Instant Reaction: SEMA Show

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

Here are some observations from the Global Rallycross Championship season finale at the SEMA Show on Tuesday night. The race, which took place in a Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, featured some of the best side-by-side action of the year:

    • The starts of the two heat races on Tuesday were particularly difficult, with incredible glare from the sunset and loose, dry dirt that left a dusty haze around the .6-mile rallycross course. Conditions improved as the night went on, when the sun was no longer in drivers’ eyes and the dirt settled in, but that didn’t stop the first corner from hosting significant beating and banging each time out.
    • That bumping at the start of the first heat cost Brian Deegan dearly as he attempted to catch Tanner Foust for the championship. In the squeeze on the first turn, Sverre Isachsen got into Deegan’s right rear, puncturing the tire and removing Deegan from heat win competition. Between heats and after the race, a frustrated Deegan expressed his displeasure with Isachsen, alluding to repeated incidents and the potential of payback down the line.

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

    • All week, it was abundantly clear that Ken Block had the fastest car in the field, bar none. Block posted the fastest time in seeding, won his Monday heat, and came out swinging on Tuesday as well, winning his second heat by a solid margin over Samuel Hubinette. By doing so, he also earned the ever-important pole position for the main event, offering him a huge advantage going into the first corner.
    • In his second start of the year, this time substituting for Travis Pastrana, Bryce Menzies was every bit as aggressive as one would expect out of an off-road champion. He did an incredible job pressuring Hubinette in Tuesday’s heat race to finish third and transfer into the final, although he ran into problems there after contact with Bucky Lasek. Pastrana sounded like he wants to give Menzies a full-time GRC ride for 2013, especially as he focuses on NASCAR.

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

    • With Deegan in the last chance qualifier, Tanner Foust saw an opportunity to steal a bonus point and extend his championship lead from six points to seven heading into the final. He had no problem doing so, getting the hole shot over Timur Timerzyanov and Stephan Verdier in his heat race and leading the entire way. In fact, Foust seemed more relaxed than usual all night on Tuesday, confident in how far he had extended his championship lead.
    • Timerzyanov, the defending European champion, had an up-and-down debut in the GRC. He rebounded from a hard landing on the jump on Sunday to win his heat on Monday, but Tuesday’s heat was a different story. He didn’t make any friends by pushing Stephan Verdier off course and blocking Rhys Millen from getting by after spinning off of the jump on the final lap. Timerzyanov, who finished eighth in the final, is the kind of aggressive driver that GRC fans would love to see more often, but no doubt the competition was frustrated with him.

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

    • Give all the credit in the world to Brian Deegan for what he did on Tuesday. By coming back from a flat tire to win the last chance qualifier, he made it to the main event, albeit starting from the back row. He languished in the back for the most part after taking the shortcut early, but when Block’s mechanical issue caused the final to be restarted after six of eight laps, it gave him a second chance. He jumped from ninth to fourth with an impressive restart and climbed to second by race’s end.
    • Block’s mechanical failure in the final was especially upsetting—not only for fans of Block looking for him to take his first rallycross win, but for everybody watching his intense battle for the lead with Foust. Block would get the hole shot in the final, but Foust eventually squeezed by halfway through. Everybody was looking forward to see if Block could find a way to retain the lead when he had to pull off and exit the race.

Image via Rhys Millen Racing Facebook

  • Rhys Millen Racing said a bittersweet goodbye to its four-year racing relationship with Hyundai on Tuesday. They were only able to put one car in the final, as problems for Verdier in both the heat race and last chance qualifier precluded him from making it, but Millen drove his heart out as he attempts to secure manufacturer backing for 2013. Surprisingly, as consistently fast of a driver as Millen is, this was the first podium of his GRC career, and he earned it by passing Hubinette for third.
  • It was only fitting that the top four drivers in the results at SEMA were also the top four drivers in the standings. Foust, Deegan, Millen, and Hubinette ranked 1-2-3-4 in Tuesday’s main event, and that’s basically how they ran in the championship as well. The only difference is, while Millen and Hubinette tied in points with 63, Hubinette wins the tiebreaker by virtue of a best finish of second compared to Millen’s third.
  • ESPN promoted next year’s Global X Games schedule throughout yesterday’s broadcast, listing events throughout America and Europe. Living up to its “global” name, the GRC is reportedly coming along for the ride in at least some of the events, such as the ones in Brazil, Barcelona, and of course Los Angeles. The question remains, however, what the rest of the schedule and field will look like for 2013. It may be a while before we have answers to those questions.

– Chris Leone

Foust Defeats Star-Studded Field For Second Consecutive GRC Title

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

For the second year in a row, Tanner Foust took home the Global Rallycross Championship crown in an Olsbergs MSE-prepared Ford Fiesta by beating a similarly skilled teammate. Last year, it was Marcus Gronholm who took home second place; this year, it was fellow Rockstar Energy driver Brian Deegan.

Foust scored a total of 94 points this season, including 22 in Tuesday night’s season finale in the SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. He took race wins in the final two events of the year, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September and SEMA. Deegan took 84, with five consecutive podium finishes to end the year.

Samuel Hubinette and Rhys Millen, two of Foust’s former competitors in Formula Drift, tied for third place with 63 points apiece; Hubinette had a best finish of second at New Hampshire, while Millen’s best run of the year was a third place at SEMA. Ken Block finished fifth with 58 points after winning two heat races at SEMA but falling out of the final due to an oil fire.

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

Here are the final championship standings:

  1. Tanner Foust, #34 Ford, 94 points
  2. Brian Deegan, #38 Ford, 84
  3. Samuel Hubinette, #77 Saab, 63
  4. Rhys Millen, #67 Hyundai, 63
  5. Ken Block, #43 Ford, 58
  6. Stephan Verdier, #12 Hyundai, 52
  7. David Binks, #17 Ford, 45
  8. Marcus Gronholm, #3 Ford, 43
  9. Travis Pastrana, #199 Dodge, 41
  10. Sverre Isachsen, #11 Subaru, 40
  11. Andy Scott, #26 Saab, 38
  12. Dave Mirra, #40 Subaru, 35
  13. Bucky Lasek, #81 Subaru, 35
  14. Toomas Heikkinen, #57 Ford, 33
  15. Liam Doran, #33 Citroen, 30
  16. Pat Moro, #59 Subaru, 22
  17. Sebastien Loeb, #72 Citroen, 21
  18. Bryce Menzies, #99 Dodge, 12
  19. David Higgins, #75 Subaru, 9
  20. Andreas Eriksson, #3 Ford, 8

– Chris Leone

Foust Beats Deegan For SEMA Victory, GRC Championship

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

Brian Deegan drove a remarkable race in the Global Rallycross Championship season finale at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Tuesday night, advancing through the last chance qualifier and getting a strong start in the final to advance to second. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, as Olsbergs MSE teammate Tanner Foust took both the race victory and the GRC title by winning his second straight race in Las Vegas.

Foust took home his second consecutive GRC title by winning heat races on both Monday and Tuesday and getting the holeshot on the second attempt at the final, never relinquishing the lead. Rhys Millen completed the podium, his first ever podium finish in GRC competition in his last race with Hyundai sponsorship.

Deegan won his heat race on Monday to earn a bonus point, but failed to advance in Tuesday’s heat after contact with Sverre Isachsen knocked the tire off of his car. He bounced back to win the last chance qualifier over Toomas Heikkinen, but still had to start from the back in the final.

Stuck in the back on the first attempt at the final, Deegan received a bit of luck when Ken Block’s oil fire led to a red flag and a restart. Polesitter Block won both of his heats and got the holeshot over Foust in the first final, but Foust passed him halfway through; a lap later, the car failed and Block pulled to the side, climbing out to avoid the fire. He was uninjured.

On the second start, Deegan divebombed from the outside of the third row to come into the holeshot fourth, while Foust, Samuel Hubinette, and Millen held the first three positions. Millen eventually forced his way by Hubinette, who would come home a solid fourth.

Heikkinen rounded out the top five, while Subaru Puma Rallycross teammates Dave Mirra and Bucky Lasek scored season-best finishes of sixth and seventh, respectively. Timur Timerzyanov, in his GRC debut, finished eighth, while Bryce Menzies placed ninth while substituting for Travis Pastrana and Block rounded out the top 10. Stephan Verdier, Sverre Isachsen, Pat Moro, and Liam Doran missed the final.

We’ll have more coverage in the coming hours and days.

– Chris Leone

GRC Drivers’ SEMA Commitments Extend Beyond Race

Image via Tanner Foust Facebook

If you’re looking for some of the other appearances that Global Rallycross Championship drivers and teams will be making at SEMA, here’s a quick guide. All times listed are local, and this list will be updated as we come across:

  • Samuel Hubinette will be signing autographs at the Eneos Oil booth Tuesday at 12 PM. He’ll also be at the Magnaflow booth on Wednesday at 2:30 PM.
  • Travis Pastrana is signing autographs at the Discount Tire location at 475 W. Centennial Boulevard on Tuesday from 11 AM to 1 PM.
  • Ford will showcase a special edition Tanner Foust-inspired Focus ST all week. Foust has also spoken
  • Speaking of Foust, Formula Cross, the new ATV-based rallycross formula engineered by Rhys Millen Racing, has unveiled a special-edition Foust-themed model of their YFC450 car that will be on site for the GRC race. After the event, RMR and the Hoonigan folks will demonstrate the car.
  • Brian Deegan will make an appearance at the Pro Comp booth on behalf of Metal Mulisha on Wednesday at 2:30 PM.

– Chris Leone

Two Heats In Tonight’s GRC Season Finale

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

Tonight’s Global Rallycross Championship season finale at the SEMA Show will feature only two heats before the last chance qualifier and main event.

With a field of 14 cars planning to race tonight—and possibly 15, if the Olsbergs MSE crew is able to complete an extensive repair job on David Binks’ totaled No. 17 eBay Motors Ford Fiesta—the decision was made to combine the cars into two heats of seven in order to produce a more exciting show.

The seeding results were as follows:

  1. Ken Block, #43 Ford, 29.168 seconds
  2. Tanner Foust, #34 Ford, 29.535
  3. Timur Timerzyanov, #3 Ford, 29.615
  4. Samuel Hubinette, #77 Saab, 29.791
  5. Sverre Isachsen, #11 Subaru, 29.798
  6. Stephan Verdier, #12 Hyundai, 29.828
  7. Rhys Millen, #67 Hyundai, 29.922
  8. Bucky Lasek, #81 Subaru, 30.033
  9. Brian Deegan, #38 Ford, 30.056
  10. Bryce Menzies, #99 Dodge, 30.224
  11. Toomas Heikkinen, #57 Ford, 30.368
  12. Pat Moro, #59 Subaru, 31.370
  13. Dave Mirra, #40 Subaru, 32.892
  14. Liam Doran, #33 Citroen, DNS

Image via Ford Racing Facebook

The two heats will be as follows:

  • Heat 2A: Ken Block (1), Samuel Hubinette (4), Sverre Isachsen (5), Brian Deegan (9), Bryce Menzies (10), Pat Moro (12), Dave Mirra (13)
  • Heat 2B: Tanner Foust (2), Timur Timerzyanov (3), Stephan Verdier (6), Rhys Millen (7), Bucky Lasek (8), Toomas Heikkinen (11), Liam Doran (14)

The heat races will be especially interesting, as the two championship contenders have been separated and the four drivers in contention for third in points have been split evenly between the two heats. Heat 2A will feature title contender Deegan and third place competitors Block and Hubinette, while Heat 2B showcases championship leader Foust and third place competitors (and teammates) Verdier and Millen.

Coverage begins on ESPN2 and ESPN3 at 8PM Eastern/5PM Pacific.

– Chris Leone

GRC Race Preview: SEMA Show

Image via @wasmotorsport/Twitter

What had been a 16-car field for this year’s Global Rallycross Championship season finale at the SEMA Show has been whittled down to 14 after a pair of incidents in practice, while the fields for tomorrow’s heat races have also been set by preliminary heats run on Monday night.

Neither David Binks nor Jimmy Keeney competed in Monday’s heats after incidents on Sunday and Monday, respectively. Binks hit the edge of the dirt jump after failing to approach it with enough speed during Sunday’s practice, while Keeney missed a shift and also failed to take the jump earlier today. European champion Timur Timerzyanov also suffered an accident on Sunday, but his crew was able to repair the damage in time for today’s events.

Seeding took place earlier today, with Ken Block, Tanner Foust, and Timur Timerzyanov leading the way in three Ford Fiestas. Foust’s lone remaining championship rival, Brian Deegan, would qualify ninth, not the start he was looking for when challenging Foust for the championship tomorrow night.

Following seeding, the series put on a set of four heat races, marking the first time since the season opener at Charlotte that cars would take part in two heats and the first time all season that the heats would take place over two separate days. All four heats were won by Fiestas, as Ford continued its domination of the season thus far.

Image via Ken Block Instagram

In heat one, Block beat Pat Moro and Bucky Lasek, while Foust defeated Toomas Heikkinen and Rhys Millen in the second heat. Heat three saw Timerzyanov beat Stephan Verdier, Bryce Menzies (subbing for Travis Pastrana), and Liam Doran, who had lingering car troubles that prevented him from finishing. Finally, Deegan overcame his mid-pack qualifying run to win the fourth heat, beating Samuel Hubinette, while Subaru teammates Sverre Isachsen and Dave Mirra were unable to complete the heat. Mirra suffered a fire on the initial start.

Tomorrow’s race coverage will begin on ESPN2 and online on ESPN3 at 8 PM Eastern time. Coverage will start with the four heats scheduled to take place tomorrow, followed by the last chance qualifier and main event.

Live updates on today’s event came from Jason Balser and Cami Godoy.

– Chris Leone