Marking the start of the second half of the Red Bull Global Rallycross season, the series set up camp in Washington D.C. for the third year in a row. The clockwise track was once again constructed in the parking lot of RFK Stadium, embedded with crumbling chicane from the 2002’s ALMS Cadillac Grand Prix. The .899 mile track ran clockwise this year with ten turns, the Joker lap, dirt section, and the signature table jump right before the finish line. Not only is Washington DC a veritable swamp in the summer time, but DC was in the middle of the heat wave with thunderstorms threatening for race day.
Supercars speculation was high going into DC:. Nelson Piquet Jr., last year’s winner, was re-joining the SH Rallycross/DRR after finishing his second Formula E season. Patrik Sandell won in 2014 and was looking for the top spot on the podium, with two podiums already in 2016. Tanner Foust arrived in DC the stiffest competition with three wins under his belt and a podium in Dallas from the first half of the season. Scott Speed, with one win and three total podiums in 2016, also arrived fresh off a win at MCAS New River; but then Steve Arpin was raring to go in his second year with Chip Ganassi Racing (and his first win in GRC this year), and his teammate Brian Deegan having taken three podiums in 2016. OMSE Honda driver Sebastian Eriksson had three podiums in the first half of the season as well, and to put a bit more gas on the fire, Subaru Rally Team USA was arriving fresh for their first race of the year.
A Thursday evening thunderstorm did nothing to quell the humidity. While it left puddles all over the track and the paddocks, the dirt hazard and jump managed to be dry enough to form great plumes of dust during afternoon practice and evening heats, with Foust and Speed won Friday’s heats.
Friday’s most urgent race was between GRC semifinals and fast-approaching rain clouds – and the rain won. After the heats and semi-finals, the rain started. After about a half hour of downpours, the weather finally moved on – and the formerly dusty track was now covered in mud and puddles for the LCQ and main event. In other words – real rally conditions!
Scott Speed won pole position for the final, and the LCQ was indeed a mud fest with Steve Arpin winning. Speed and Sandell stayed in front for the whole final, while Tanner Foust and Brian Deegan fought for third place. Foust pulled of a pass in the final lap for third place.
Rookie GRC Lites driver Cabot Bigham took his first win (after two podiums in the season’s first half), with Oliver Ericsson taking the other two podium spots. After competing in her first Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites race last year in Las Vegas, Sandra Hultgren (Olsbergs MSE X Forces) returned for her first 2016 race, finishing eighth.
Check Red Bull TV for replays of the DC event, or to watch the upcoming race in New Jersey August 28.