At the onset of the Red Bull Global Rallycross double header presented by Subaru Tecnica International, all contenders were looking to narrow the wide gap between themselves and points leader Ken Block by racing their way to the podium. In addition to full-season drivers Bucky Lasek and Sverre Isachsen, Subaru Rally Team doubled their presence with winning-streaking rally driver David Higgins and fan favorite Travis Pastrana all in new STi livery. After disappointingly not making the podium in the Volkswagen-sponsored Washington DC race, Beetle drivers Scott Speed and Tanner Foust were also tweeting smack in the weeks leading up to LA. This literary device, while clumsily executed here, is known as foreshadowing.
Setting up camp once again in the Port of Los Angeles by the aptly named WWII cargo ship SS Lane Victory, this year’s 1.13km (.702 mile) track looked like it would be exciting when it was first announced that in addition to thirteen turns, the standard dirt hazard, and Kobalt Tools Joker Lap, the course looped around the inside featuring a cross-over jump. It was already apparent in Friday’s practice sessions that the two days of racing would be full of dust and door banging, but after Lites driver Alejandro Fernandez hit the wall of the tunnel into a barrel roll – coming to rest on his roof – there would be dramatic spins and related carnage.
Besides the extra Subie drivers, one new addition to Super Cars was Rhys Millen Racing’s Brian Wong. Wong competed in GRC Lites the first half of 2015, moving up to a Hyundai Veloster with twice the horsepower for LA. Millen, who hinted at racing in LA on social media, will race in Barbados in October.
The person to beat was Ken Block, and he did not have an easy day on Saturday. After getting knocked around and out of the heats, his driveshaft broke in the semi-final – then spun in the Last Chance Qualifier won by Travis Pastrana.
In the final it looked like it was going to be Speed with the win, Foust in second, and Isachsen in a hard-fought third place, until a competitive Patrik Sandell edged past the Subaru driver in the last lap. Still, the fourth place finish was the best for Subaru Rally Team this season in what is a development year for them. Sandell is having a great year having come in second in DC and upset Block for the win in the in the second of two Detroit bouts.
The Lites finals were less eventful than practice, and everyone stayed shiny-side up. Olsbergs MSE team battled with Miles Maroney and Alex Keyes for the first two podium spots. Oliver Eriksson took first and Austin Cindric came in second, while Alex Keyes ultimately grabbed third.
Sunday was yet another day of shake-ups. Some particularly aggressive contact by Sebastien Eriksson over the jump drove Bucky Lasek into the wall. The car was taken off course on a flat bed and couldn’t be fixed in time to qualify for the final.
Everyone has a bad week now and then, and this was a heck of a bad one for Ken Block. After taking second in both the heat and the semi-final, contact in the final knocked him down to 9th. Meanwhile, Scott Speed was given the broom after once again finishing first. The General Brian Deegan edged past Tanner Foust for second.
More brooms were need in Lites, as the two Olsbergs MSE drivers once again took the podium – this time with Austin Cindric in first and Oliver Eriksson in third. Miles Maroney fought his way to second on the podium. Cindric and Maroney are now tied for first in championship points.
The Guts and Determination Award had to go to Lites driver Collete Davis. In her first Lites race this year, her car was knocked off the jump, wedged sideways between the jump and the safety fence. She was fine, the car was extracted and she was actually able to continue racing. Sunday in LA, her wheel flew off in a heat, then more car issues forced her into a Sunday drive around the final. Despite the limping car, she hung in there and finished to get her points.
Next up for Red Bull GRC is another double-header at Bushy Park, Barbados October 3-4. As of press time, yours truly won’t be there unless a miracle occurs (yours truly is certainly open to miracles), so catch it all on NBCSN, and I’ll be back with more galleries from the season-ender in Las Vegas.