Global Rallycross Championship 2012: Round Five @ Las Vegas

Words by Matt Willis

Following the finale of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, the surface building crews came out of the woodwork and began setting the stage for round five of the Global Rallycross Championship, or “GRC”. Rallycross, for the lack of any better explanation, is essentially autocross with elements of rally built into the track. That might include dirt/gravel transitions, jumps, flick turns, whatever. Rally in itself is far more popular in Europe and Asia than in the States; but thanks to the viral nature of Ken Block videos and the increasing prominence of drifting and gymkhana events, rally racing is certainly on the rise. If you’ve seen true FIA Rally before, you know it takes a tremendous amount of skill and nerve to conquer the uncharted terrain on a given stage. The safety barriers present at a race track actually become trees on a true rally course, and that hairpin turn 6,000 feet up the mountain might not have a guardrail, either. But, for whatever reason, that kind of edgy racing hasn’t quite caught on in America yet. With the help of the internet, enthusiasts and the GRC, though, I think it might be closer than we think.

Now, looking at GRC objectively, there are (without question) things that need to be worked out and improved upon. Right now, I think the rallycross movement has potential but GRC might not have the backing to take it to the next level. In other words, the GRC version of the sport is somewhat lacking the excitement of true rally, which is what I think the enthusiasts are after. Remembering back to the early 2000’s when Formula D was emerging, and their events were a bit rough and bland. But now, Formula D is a recognized name for almost any motorsports fan. It’s new–and people either aren’t used to it (i.e. jumping in a cold pool) or they don’t know about it yet. There’s that famous line “if you build it, they will come” — and I think GRC is still being built. On the opposite side, though, I am happy to say that they have my full and undivided attention.

There are some very elite drivers and very powerful cars involved in this series. Tanner Foust, Travis Pastrana, Marcus Grönholm and Rhys Millen are just a few of the drivers on the grid. Many of them are professional rally drivers (or former pros), or are focused solely on Rallycross via GRC and action sports, like the X Games. Each driver is equipped with a 600-some-odd horsepower car, fully outfitted with rally suspension, massive front and rear brakes, and multi-role tires.

The course at Las Vegas was set up in the infield of the front stretch, with a single 160-degree dirt turn and two ramps. I think the course could have been a little bit better, honestly. The last jump is a nail-biter and definitely keeps fans on their feet, but the rest of the course was fairly bland. I think some more dirt and maybe some more use of space could have yielded a more exciting track, but what do I know…(Again, I say the same thing about Formula D courses…). I understand GRC is still a growing niche and I think over time the courses will become more elaborate once the funding and popularity is there.

Anyways…onto the pics…


We toured the GRC garages before the start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, and found that teams were still busy making their last minute adjustments and checks.



Brian Deegan’s OMSE Fiesta on stands…



The cockpit of one of these race-prepped Fiestas…



Dave Mirra’s Subaru WRX…



Nothing but performance here. Notice the dual-reservoir shock setup and the transponder mounted in the fender well.



Plenty of spare parts are kept on hand…Rallycross is not very forgiving in this aspect…



Interesting to see a Saab in the lineup.


Cockpit of the Saab…


Rhys Millen in the new Hyundai Veloster…


Tanner Foust’s Rockstar OMSE Fiesta…


The most eye-catching car out there was the new Dodge Dart being driven by Travis Pastrana. I really like the direction they took it, and its great to see Dodge in motorsports again.


Ken Block’s unmistakable Monster Energy Fiesta…



There were a couple more older WRXs in the adjoining stalls…




After a quick walkthrough of the garages, we headed out to cover the NASCAR race and didn’t see the GRC guys enter the arena until later that night.





The cars and drivers took to the infield for introductions…




Block with a look of intensity…





Travis Pastrana, 10 time X Games gold medalist, is the driver of the #199 Red Bull Dodge Dart. He also ran in the NASCAR Truck Series race here just hours before GRC…


Tanner Foust has proven himself to be one of the most aggressive and tactful drivers on the grid.




With the field set, the drivers headed back to the starting area to get the racing going…





Some drivers, like Rhys Millen and Tanner Foust, were able to enter into the gravel turn at a nearly perpendicular angle with precise control.


Toasty brakes…




Like a shark fin in the water…


At the other end of the course, drivers were taking turns landing the ramp jump.







Before the comments on the wheel gap, see below…




The look on Deegan’s face…haha…







Trademark new-era Dodge taillights. Love it.

After the practice sessions, the drivers and teams came in to prepare for the finals.


Andreas Eriksson filling in for the injured Marcus Gronholm.


Brian Deegan pulls his Fiesta into the garage…


Some teams were already faced with trouble….



Team Subaru doing work on the Puma cars…







After just a few minutes, the drivers were called back out to the main grid for the final race. Everyone was anxious, as it took a while to clean up a little mishap in the final turn.



And off they go. The first turn is always the most crowded. Here Ken Block gets shoved around a bit.













In the end, Foust came out the victor of GRC Round Five. Second went to fellow Rockstar Fiesta driver Brian Deegan, and third to Sverre Isachsen in the Puma Subaru WRX. Those that struggled: Travis Pastrana ended up losing his turbo on the Dodge Dart and Andreas Erikkson in the Best Buy Fiesta also experienced problems, which gave them both a DNF mark.



Congrats to Tanner Foust and the Ford/Rockstar Rallycross team for the one-two finish! 

That concludes our coverage from Sept. 29 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The final round of the 2012 Global Rallycross Championship takes place at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas on Oct. 30th, which is where we’ll be next week!

GRC Round Five Recap+Results @ ESPN | Follow GRC Events on Facebook

 We have a couple more posts coming up prior to us leaving for the SEMA Show next week, so stay with us. Thanks for reading! – Matt


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