FAN POV: The Big Finale in Las Vegas

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

By Audrey Guistiniani

The big finale for Redbull Global Rallycross at Las Vegas was one of the most exciting races of the season. This year the track was located at The LINQ, a dining, shopping and entertainment district right in the heart of the Vegas Strip. The track was right at the foot of the 550-foot ferris wheel called the High Roller. The wide track was excellent. It had high speed corners, long straights, interesting hairpins and the joker turn, which made for lots of surprises. It was around 38% dirt. The atmosphere was amazing.  As soon as I walked in I could feel the excitement.  Kids and adults wandered around the open paddock talking with the drivers about their techniques or just congratulating them for their performance.  It’s always nice to see how the drivers are available to the growing number of fans attending the races.  I was able to see how everyone works together to make a victory happen.

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

Both days were interesting as I watched the drivers try to figure out how to take the corner before the jump. That particular corner was very dusty and deep on the first day, but was quickly fixed by the second day. The beetles especially had big success. This was the first time I able to see them perform. It was very impressive.  I knew that VW is doing very well in rally, and now I get to watch them in rallycross.

The first start during the final began with a hit between Speed and Lasek in the first corner. Fortunately, both could line up for the restart and continue racing.  Specifically, it was great for Bucky Lasek who took third on the podium that evening.

It was a big win for both Ken Block and for Joni Wiman.  Block won the event and Wiman took second in the round, giving him enough points to win the championship. Emma Gilmour, who did a great job all season, made history as the first female in GRC to race in the final. I was also able to witness a big victory for Mitchell Dejong in the Lites series.  DeJong won both the race and championship.

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

Photo by Audrey Guistiniani

This season is over now, but GRC continues to grow and is getting more and more popular. GRC is the series to enjoy racing with simplicity and fun.

 

Photos by Audrey Guistiniani

That’s a Wrap!

Photo by Red Bull Media/Red Bull Global Rallycross

Photo by Red Bull Media/Red Bull Global Rallycross

For Red Bull Global Rallycross, the race season is officially over. It was a season of unpredictability all the way to the end. In the final round, fans watched Ken Block win the race but saw “the rookie”, Joni Wiman, take the championship. Block and Wiman were only 12 points apart at the start of the two-day event in Las Vegas. When the final checkered flag was waved, Block had won the last race of the season with Wiman coming in runner-up. The two drivers finished the season with just a five point difference.

In the GRC Lites series, Mitchell DeJong dominated not only the final round but the entire season.  Throughout the season Mitchell has had nine podiums and seven wins.  We suspect that Mitchell will be in a Supercar next year and he will definitely be one to watch.

GRC Lites Champ, Mitchell DeJong.

GRC Lites Champ, Mitchell DeJong.

The location and setting for the final event was fantastic. It was located at the foot of the High Roller Wheel at The LINQ in the center of Las Vegas with plenty of room for fans to hang out and plenty of seating around the perimeter of the track.  The setup of the paddock made it easy for fans to interact with their favorite driver(s) and watch as the cars were being worked on. Fans and media from around the globe were in attendance. Some of the spectators attended the event simply because they were in Vegas and had heard about the event or heard the cars during practice. Loud shrieking engines piqued the curiosity of many. It was the perfect setting for current rallycross fans and for creating new ones. Red Bull GRC organizers pulled out all the stops for this final. Each year has gotten bigger and better.  So, if you are planning to attend a Red Bull Global Rallycross event next season, but aren’t quite sure which one, we highly recommend the Vegas round. It is like no other event on the calendar.

Photo by Red Bull Media/Red Bull Global Rallycross

Photo by Red Bull Media/Red Bull Global Rallycross

 

Sverre Isachsen: A Rallycross360 Exclusive With the Viking Warrior

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Sverre Isachsen takes the win in Seattle - photo by Linda Olsen

Sverre Isachsen takes the win in Seattle – photo by Linda Olsen

Sverre Isachsen, a.k.a the Viking Warrior, has been in the rallycross business for over 20 years and he knows a thing or two about the ins and outs of rallycross and the business behind the scenes. Sverre began racing in 1989, and in 1999 and 2000 he won the Norwegian Rallycross Championship. Sverre went on to take the European Rallycross Championship in 2009, 2010, and 2011. He began competing in the Global Rallycross Championship with Subaru in 2012 and this season Sverre pilots a Subaru WRX STI, netting two podiums and four heat wins so far.

Rallycross360 sat down with Sverre a few days before the Red Bull Global Rallycross event in Seattle to talk with him about his perspective on GRC, the sport, and his performance this season.

Photo by Andy Casson/Weasel555

Photo by Andy Casson/Weasel555

What’s your view on the progression of Global Rallycross over the past couple of years?
“They try to do something, but in the States they are too much show. With the rules, it’s which way the wind’s blowing – that’s the biggest problem over here. It’s different rules for different persons in the same race. It’s very difficult to be consistent. If they don’t know what to do, they use half of the rules. They say, ‘We will take these rules today and GRC rules tomorrow and FIA the day after.’

“I’ve been in this business for 20 years. FIA rules are quite strict and we know what the limit is, what the rules on the car are, and what they are in the race. GRC rules are very difficult to understand because there are new rules every minute. GRC will learn, if they want to learn, and are doing much better. They want to have a show and that’s okay, but they also want to have the normal roots. So I hope they can find a good way to get together with a good car company and find a good solution.  Rallycross for the American people is a dream sport – it’s the best sport ever because it’s a rush with this powerful car going from 0-60 in seconds.”

What are your thoughts on the growing popularity of rallycross around the world?
“It’s growing really hard. World Rallycross Championship is going straight up. Red Bull GRC is going really good, but it can be doing much better, but it’s going good.”

Out of all the international championship tracks you’ve raced on around the world, which is your favorite?
“Sweden. It’s the best track ever. Norway, Sweden, Hungary are beautiful tracks. Sweden is a really tricky track, moving really fast and you need to be really clever on some parts of the track and [have] really big balls on the other parts.”

Aside from winning the championship, what do you want to accomplish this year to consider the season a success?
“We’ve developed the car step-by-step, with some wrong steps, and then we go back and try another direction, trying to find the right set up for the car. We have taken really big steps this year. If you look at it time-wise, we’re there and on top. If you’re looking at timed driving and having a podium sometimes, we need to take one more step and we’ll work hard on that.

“We’ve had really good progress this year, and we’re doing an amazing job. We want to win for Subaru and we fight for it every time. We still have a few races to go. If everything is correct then the car is really, really fast. We’re also waiting for our completely new engine. When that engine comes, I think we’ll see a different side of the Subaru.”

Any desire to jump into a few rounds of World Rallycross Championship next season?
“If it were up to me, I would drive a race every weekend. I’d drive in the World Rallycross Championship, Red Bull Global Rallycross, and European Rallycross Championship, but I just can’t do that. Of course I want to prove something with the Subaru in the States, putting the money and effort here. I definitely know from my experience in Europe that if I ever show up in Europe or the World Rallycross Championship with the car I have now, we would definitely be fighting at the top.”

Kevin Hansen Adds Another Podium to His Growing RX Lites Resume

Photo by Team Peugeot-Hansen
Photo by Team Peugeot-Hansen

Photo by Team Peugeot-Hansen

Press release October 12, 2014

Red Bull athlete Kevin Hansen made a fantastic comeback to finish second in the final round of the RX Lites Cup at the Istanbul Park in Turkey. The result also secures Hansen second place in the championship standings.

Hansen started on the second row of the final in his Peugeot 208 Lites and moved up to third in the first corner. He took his compulsory joker lap on lap one [a longer extra route that each driver must take once during the car] and got his head down to chase the cars ahead. Closing in on those who were yet to joker, Hansen tried to pass Latvian Janis Baumanis on the loose section but lost time when the pair made contact. Hansen then passed Baumanis for second and pushed hard on the final lap, but couldn’t find a way passed his compatriot Sebastien Eriksson in the closing stages.

r-l-clrdytd-iyjytrltz-h“It was a crazy final. We had so much bad luck this weekend but as a team we got on with it and pushed really hard. We were clever with our joker laps and I’m really pleased to have finished second in the last round of the championship, and in the overall positions,” said Hansen.

The Swede’s weekend didn’t get off to the perfect start, an engine problem in practice meant the Red Bull Peugeot Hansen Junior Team had to change the unit and missed the first qualifying heat as a result.

“We missed heat one and then in the heat two we had quite a good run but had a fight and lost time. In the fourth heat we proved our pace and were quickest by almost two seconds overall. I had to fight my way up from starting at the back in the semi-finals, but we made it to the final. In the final you just go, go go and try to do your best. I took the joker early to get free air. It worked and we were second on the last lap. I tried to pass Sebastien [Eriksson] but there was no way through. When we had the problems yesterday I thought we had lost second place in the championship, I’m so proud of my team that we manage to fight as hard as we do. We got this result together.”

RX Lites Cup, Turkey: Final Results

1 Sebastien Eriksson
2 Kevin Hansen
3 Janis Baumanis
4 Kevin Eriksson
5 Daniel Holten
6 Yigit Timur

RX Lites Cup Championship after round 6 / 6:

1 Kevin Eriksson 136
2 Kevin Hansen 99
3 Daniel Holten 97
4 Yigit Timur 94
5 Sebastien Eriksson 82
6 Richard Goransson 73

Fan POV: For This Fan, Los Angeles Round Was More Than Just a Race

Karen in the center  - photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross
Photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross

Photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross

Fan Point-Of-View by Karyn Krukow

Detroit’s loss became Los Angeles’ gain in early September. The Port of Los Angeles became host to a double-header when the race in the Motor City was canceled, turning what was once a two-day event into three. The home race (due to it being held in the same city as the home offices for both GRC and Red Bull) was the first one held in Los Angeles not associated with X Games.

As a fan who has been to both events, I have to say that I preferred the stand-alone race since the entire event is devoted to rallycross – there are no other distractions taking place at the same time or venue. In fact, the only distractions were the ocean front, which meant views of ships coming in and out of the harbor and seal sightings in addition to cars practicing and qualifying at sunset. Red Bull picked an awesome location.

One of the most notable things that happened at the event was the debut of the VW Beetle driven by Andretti Autosport driver Tanner Foust. It was the first time this Beetle raced stateside against other cars on the track. I must confess I wasn’t entirely sure about this deal with the Beetle. I mean come on, a Beetle? But I changed my opinion after seeing its potential. My full conversion came when I saw Tanner not only keep pace with Ken Block while driving the Beetle, but also driving faster at times. That Beetle is a beast, and once it’s fully dialed in, watch out!

Tanner, if you are reading this, sorry for being a doubting Thomas!

Geoff Sykes - Photo by Karen Krukow

Geoff Sykes – Photo by Karen Krukow

One of the highlights of the race experience is being able to roam the pits during down time. You never know who you’ll run into or what shenanigans the drivers are up to. More importantly, you get to witness the hard-working teams putting the cars back together post-race. Seeing Bucky Lasek zipping around on a mini-motorbike chatting up fans is something I won’t forget. Same thing with spotting Steve Arpin hitching a ride on the tire golf cart, and watching Geoff Sykes sign parts of his car and hand them over the fence to fans was hilarious. That was a first for me.

Ken Block’s daughters sold lemonade on behalf of the Keep A Breast Foundation’s “Save the Boobies” cancer awareness campaign at the event. It was heartwarming to see them following their father’s lead in supporting the charity. Yes, Ken followed through with his pledge to wear the specially designed pink DC driving shoes featuring the “I Heart Boobies” slogan we all know.

Wandering around toward the end of day two I ran into Rhys Millen hauling his own tires. My comment made in jest, “They make the boss work? What?” was met with a smile from Millen and a simple reply, “I offered to do it this one time so the team could eat dinner.”

Karen in the center  - photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross

Karen in the center – photo by Red Bull Global Rallycross

When I attempt to put the experiences of three days of racing into perspective, what stands out most was the teams’ level of dedication backing up the drivers. The drivers always give credit to their teams but rarely does it come from the fans. Watching them piece these cars back together day after day for the event was astounding. Their talent and abilities to do the repairs under such time constraints is admirable. It’s given me a new appreciation for the effort that goes into racing.

On Saturday night I walked through the pits to leave for the day. Every pit had car parts littering the floor, with team members getting ready for a long night of various repairs. When the gates were open at 8 am Sunday morning you could see the drivers practicing, meaning the teams likely did not get much sleep. On behalf of the fans, thank you to the teams for your hard work and dedication to your drivers and their cars.

I would like to thank Rallycross360.com for asking me to write this fan point-of-view for the Los Angeles race. For me it was an opportunity to show that fans should not just go to see the best type of auto racing, but to take in the whole experience. It’s a great series where the drivers truly love the interaction with their fans. I can’t wait to see it grow even more in popularity.

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