Global RallyCross Championship
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|Drivers' champion|| Toomas Heikkinen
(Bluebeam Olsbergs MSE)
|Teams' champion||Ford Racing Olsbergs MSE|
Red Bull Global Rallycross is a self-owned rallycross series run in the United States. Started in 2009 by Brian Gale and Chip Pankow, the series has gained a fair amount of commercial success. The events are run with heavily modified production cars called Rallycross SuperCars and are run at a wide range of venues from NASCAR speedways to street courses and commonly feature a mix of dirt and asphalt.
Rallycross officially debuted in the US at X Games 16 in Los Angeles in 2010, to great success. Three demonstration events were held in late 2010 at the New Jersey Motorsports Park, and Global RallyCross Management organized a first championship season of five events in 2011. Rockstar Energy Drink driver Tanner Foust won the inaugural championship title in 2011. He retained the title again in 2012. In 2013 Global Rallycross finally expanded globally for the first time with races outside the USA, including races in Brazil, Germany and Spain, due to X Games' global expansion.
Originally a made-for-TV sport with drivers from rallying competing, the first-ever rallycross was held on February 4, 1967 at England's Lydden Circuit. Early competitors included 1968 Rally Monte Carlo winner Vic Elford in a showroom Porsche 911, Brian Melia in his Ford Lotus Cortina and Tony Fall in a BMC Mini Cooper S.
In addition to promoting the series, Global Rallycross Management manages invitations and competition for X Games Rallycross contests.
Qualifying is conducted over the course of one hour. The field is broken up into small groups that take to the track in 10-minute sessions. Seeding for heat races is determined by a driver's qualifying lap time.
Depending on field size and track schedule, race day begins with one or two rounds of four heat races, usually consisting of four cars and six laps each. Winning a heat race guarantees a driver one bonus point in the championship standings. The top two finishers transfer into the main event, giving their teams time to work on their cars while others continue to compete. All drivers who do not make it into the main event via heat races will compete in the last chance qualifier for the final remaining qualifying spots. Ten cars then compete in the main event.
The start of a GRC race requires drivers to have great execution and incredible reflexes. All GRC action begins with a standing start, where drivers are given 30- and 10-second intervals before the green. During that time they must activate launch systems, including an anti-lag system, all while being ready to launch within a split second's time. The fastest driver in the previous session is given the inside lane to the first corner.
The Joker Lap
Each course is equipped with two routes: the main route, and the joker lap route, which each driver must only take once per race. The joker lap route typically shortens the length of the track significantly, forcing a driver to make strategic decisions about when to take it. On one hand, taking it on the first lap allows a driver to get it over with; on the other, waiting until the end of the race can allow a driver to gain positions before the finish. Depending on venue, the joker lap route may have additional obstacles which significantly slow the cars thus making the main route faster.
The Penalty Box was a new addition to GRC for the 2013 season, and is designed to deal with on-track infractions without having to red flag or restart the race. In event of a jump start or rough driving, offenders will pull into a 50 meter lane off track, where they will be held until a track official releases them. The Penalty Box was first used at the first event at X Games Brazil, when Nelson Piquet Jr. jump-started at the beginning of Heat 2.
Championship points are awarded to the top 16 finishers as follows:
In addition, each heat race winner receives one bonus point in the standings. At the end of the season, the driver to score the most points will be crowned GRC champion. Each race, the top two cars per manufacturer also score points in the manufacturer's championship
GRC tracks feature some of the most diverse and technical challenges in the world of motorsport. Between half a mile and a mile in length, they feature a mixture of dirt and tarmac, as well as various other obstacles. GRC tracks can be built almost anywhere, leading to incredibly varied layouts.
Global Rallycross cars roll out of the factory as production models, but receive significant improvements to chassis, engine, and safety features to bring them up to racing spec. GRC vehicles are incredibly versatile; they produce 600 horsepower and can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds, with the help of AWD All Wheel Drive powering all 4 wheels at the same time, but are also built to withstand 70-foot jumps and contact with other vehicles. Unlike many other racing series, they also do not feature the aid of electronic traction aids. Ford, Dodge, and Subaru serve as Official Manufacturer Partners of the series, as of 2013.
GRC drivers represent some of the most talented action sports athletes in the world. A significant number of GRC drivers have also had legendary careers in other action sports, from motocross to BMX to skateboarding. Rallycross provides its athletes with a similar thrill to other action sports, only with added control and safety measures. It's not uncommon to see drivers transition from another sport to rallycross with great success.
Many former World Rally champions also choose occasionally to race in GRC, for example Sebastien Loeb and Marcus Gronholm. These racing professionals balance their skills in car control with the added challenge of wheel-to-wheel racing. In 2013, Global Rallycross will also feature the Star Car, designed to bring even more successful drivers from the racing world into the series. A different driver will be chosen to run each of the series’ nine races based on a number of factors including resume and home nation.
GRC teams are incredibly sophisticated and technically advanced organizations, capable of competing worldwide in various championships. GRC teams have experience competing in the World Rally Championship, Rally America, and European rallycross. A GRC team is typically led by an engineer, who makes decisions on how to set up the car and race strategy, and is composed of a handful of mechanics who perform maintenance work on the vehicle. An engine technician is also employed to keep the 2.0-liter engines performing at their maximum potential. Some of the popular team names are, Hoonigan Racing Division, Pastrana Racing, and Olsberg MSE.
The 2013 season started in Foz do Iguaçu as part of X Games Brazil on April 21. 2013 is the first season that the GRC has branched out internationally by including event that are not in the US. After a surprise winner of Scott Speed in Brazil, and a rained-out event in Barcelona, Liam Doran took gold in Munich Race 1. Race 2 saw Toomas Heikkinen win gold, starting a streak of wins which ended at 5. In New Hampshire, Tanner Foust was poised to win, but he crashed in the last corner on the last lap, giving Heikkinen the win. Heikkinen dominated in Bristol, and won there as well. At X Games LA, Sverre Isachsen got a great start, but got a penalty for jumping the start. Heikkinen again won. In Atlanta, Henning Solberg made his GRC debut. Heikkinen won, again. In Charlotte, Tanner Foust flipped in his heat race. The LCQ was cancelled after several wrecks. Scott Speed ended the reign of Toomas Heikkinen, winning. At the final race in Las Vegas, Ken Block got his first GRC win. Toomas Heikkinen won the championship by just starting in Charlotte.
The second season was composed by six events. Tanner Foust won the championship, Brian Deegan finished as runner up. Marcus Grönholm won the first two races of the season in Charlotte and Texas in dominating fashion, however his season and career came to a grinding halt after a terrifying crash during X-Games practice. Gronholm had a shunt into a concrete block after the gap jump, which destroyed his Ford Fiesta. His former WRC rival, Sebastien Loeb, won in X Games. Travis Pastrana won in New Hampshire. Tanner Foust took 1st at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Andréas Eriksson replaced Grönholm, and at the SEMA Show, also in Las Vegas, where Timur Timerzyanov replaced Grönholm. Pastrana did not take part at SEMA, replaced by Bryce Menzies, who raced at X Games. Pastrana was forced to sit out SEMA due to shoulder surgery (he dislocated his shoulder at Texas in the Last Chance Qualifier, and he missed the final).
|1||Irwindale Speedway||25–26 March|
|2||Old Mill Adventure Park||15–16 April|
|3||Pikes Peak International Raceway||17–18 June|
|4||X Games, Los Angeles||30–31 July|
|Season||Driver Champion||Manufacturer Champion|
|2011||Tanner Foust||Olsbergs MSE Ford Racing|
|2012||Tanner Foust||Olsbergs MSE Ford Racing|
|2013||Toomas Heikkinen||Olsbergs MSE Ford Racing|
The series had a multi-year programming relationship with ESPN from 2011 to 2013. Global Rallycross broadcasts would be slated to follow NASCAR Nationwide Series and NHRA shows on ESPN and ESPN2, and live event streaming took place on ESPN3.com.
In 2014, the series signed a multi-year deal with NBC that included all but one of the races being shown on NBC either live or tape-delayed as well as re-airs taking place on NBC Sports Network. The one race not shown on NBC would be ran in conjunction with the X Games in Austin, Texas; thus being the lone event televised by ESPN.
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