Article by Rick Jensen (Turboguy). Photography by Randy Montgomery.
In 2006, X Games Los Angeles introduced rallycross racing to thrilled American enthusiasts. Rallycross had been huge in Europe for decades at that point, and over the next few years this new event pulled in racing stars and new fans alike. Motocross rider Travis Pastrana ditched the bike for a rally car, and his epic championship battles with ex-stunt driver Tanner Foust became legend.
With popularity surging, Global Rallycross, or GRC, was launched in 2009 and bowed in 2010 at the X Games. GRC set a 10-lap race and also implemented a once-per-race "joker lap,” a shortened, sometimes obstacled alternate course that drivers could use strategically to improve position. They piloted 550-plus horsepower, all-wheel-drive missiles that could go 0 to 60 in around 2 seconds and hit up to 120 mph on cement and dirt courses, while still taking massive abuse from huge jumps. GRC events were loud, mud-throwing spectacles that were just crazy enough to work, and soon big-name racers the world over were clamoring to race in GRC. I mean, where else can you find Indy 500 champ Kenny Brack, former F1 shoe Piquet Jr., and ex-skateboarder Bucky Lasek throwing dirt all in one place?
The series continued to grow, ultimately leading up to the absolutely massive 2014 GRC season. Rabid fans are witnessing big-name drivers Joni Wiman, Ken Block, Nelson Piquet Jr., and Scott Speed all jockeying for the championship. And thanks to the two-year broadcast partnership with NBC Sports, that ever-rising fanbase is watching Global Rallycross live. The GRC/NBC Sports partnership was announced on April 2 of this year, with the now-cool legacy broadcaster showing all nine races this season. The GRC is now the second most watched auto event in America, and the most-watched auto event that doesn’t include hillbillies.
So on September 26 and 27, Revvolution watched a star-studded group of drivers battle at the Red Bull Global Rallycross Seattle. Round 9 was the penultimate race of the 2014 season, and it was Sverre Isachsen who took his—and Subaru’s—first win after Ken Block and Tanner Foust collided. Isachsen, a three-time European rallycross champion, capitalized on the on-track mayhem to take the lead on the first lap, then held on for all 10 laps to take the trophy and fifth place in the points. The win came at the perfect time for Subaru, as it has a large and dedicated granola-eating fan base in the Pacific Northwest. Olsbergs MSE’s Joni Wiman came in a very close second and Rockstar Energy Drink’s Brian Deegan took third, coming in at a jolting 12 seconds back.
Block breezed through the heats and qualified in first place, showing fans at Dirtfish Rally School in Snoqualmie, Wash., why he’s one of the world’s best drivers. However, his podium hopes were dashed when, in Saturday’s final, he went wide in the first corner and got jacked up by Tanner Foust. The bad touch broke his Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST’s rear suspension and blew a tire, which resulted in a dead-last finish one lap back. Foust was even more unlucky ending with a DNF.
Block currently trails Wiman for the lead in the driver championship, with one race to go and Nelson Piquet Jr., Scott Speed and Sverre Isachsen nipping at their heels. Be sure to look out for those five drivers when the 2014 GRC season wraps up in Las Vegas on November 5.
Be sure to stay dialed in to #TeamRevv's coverage as we continue the series with the final show-down November 5th as part of our famed SEMA coverage, live from downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.
Visit the official Red Bull Global Rally Cross (GRC) Facebook page here for additional coverage.
2014 Red Bull Global Rally Cross Driver Championship Point Standings
1. #31 Joni Wiman, Olsbergs MSE, 332 points
2. #43 Ken Block, Hoonigan Racing Division, 320 points
3. #7 Nelson Piquet Jr., SH Racing Rallycross, 304 points
4. #77 Scott Speed, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, 303 points
5. #11 Sverre Isachsen, Subaru Rally Team USA, 247 points
6. #18 Patrik Sandell, Olsbergs MSE, 239 points
7. #0 Steve Arpin, Royal Purple Racing/OMSE2, 208 points
8. #67 Rhys Millen, Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing, 196 points
9. #34 Tanner Foust, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, 178 points
10. #81 Bucky Lasek, Subaru Rally Team USA, 173 points
11. #14 Austin Dyne, Barracuda Racing, 147 points
12. #38 Brian Deegan, Rockstar Energy Drink, 127 points
13. #27 Emma Gilmour, Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing, 40 points
14. #59 Pat Moro, Chevrolet Sonic Racing/PMR Motorsports, 5 points
15. #199 Travis Pastrana, Subaru Rally Team USA, 0 points
16. #33 Liam Doran, LD Motorsports, 0 points
17. #48 Ricky Johnson, Olsbergs MSE, 0 points
18. #57 Toomas Heikkinen, Marklund Motorsport, 0 points
19. #92 Anton Marklund, Marklund Motorsport, 0 points
20. #715 David Higgins, Subaru Rally Team USA, 0 points