The Red Bull Global Rallycross season begins with a double header in Phoenix

by • June 7, 2016 • EventComments (0)11426

The 2016 Red Bull GRC season kicked off with a doubleheader for the first time in series history. Drivers battled for a pair of victories at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix, Arizona.

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The track at the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park put drivers and their equipment to the test. Blistering heat pushed temperatures inside the cars well into the triple digits and a series record 1,300-ft long straightaway saw top speeds over 120 mph. The all new track at Wild Horse Pass featured 12 turns in just under a mile of racing, multiple dirt sections, and a Joker Lap that allowed drivers to bypass the jump once per race session.

Phoenix was also the Rallycross debut for Honda who have partnered with Olsbergs MSE for 2016. The team made its debut with Sebastian Eriksson and Joni Wiman behind the wheel.

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However it was two-time Red Bull Global Rallycross champion Tanner Foust who kicked off the season opener with a statement and a double victory in Phoenix. The Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross driver held off Bryan Herta Rallysport’s Patrik Sandell and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Brian Deegan for the victory in race one. In race two it was more of the same at the front of the grid, as Foust and Scott Speed again swept their heats and semifinals to sit on the front row. They took off into the top two spots at the start of the final and never looked back as the field battled for third behind them.

“I like the track!” Foust said. “It’s a real Jekyll and Hyde kind of a track. You’ve got the road course, where you need to be real buttery smooth, and you’ve got that chaotic gravel when you are coming over the jump with tire stacks at 80 miles per hour. So there is a lot of the fun factor and technical spots!”

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In Saturday’s action Foust and Speed dominated the preliminary rounds, winning two heats apiece. From there, Foust won the first semifinal over the brand new Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE entry of Wiman, while Speed held off Sandell to win the second semifinal. In the main event, Foust led from flag to flag, withstanding early challenges from Sandell and Speed to establish a comfortable lead. A late-race issue ended Speed’s podium hopes, dropping him from second to fifth.

“It’s going to be a great season—obviously it’s a great way to start the season for Volkswagen,” the two-time Supercar champion said from the podium. “But different cars have different skills on different tracks, so it’s going to be a mix up. A lot of the new cars out there are extremely fast, and it’s going to be a great season!”

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As with Saturday, the Volkswagen Beetles were dominant in the preliminary rounds, with both Foust and Speed sweeping their respective heats and semifinals. Deegan, coming off a third place finish in Saturday’s main event, won the last chance qualifier but only made his way up to sixth in the main event. In the final, Foust beat Speed in a drag race off the line and never looked back with a dominant performance.

New manufacturer Honda took the first podium of its foray into rallycross in only its second race, as Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE driver Eriksson placed third. Eriksson, last year’s runner-up, held off Saturday runner-up Sandell in a thrilling battle that lasted for the entire 10-lap final.

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Scott Speed, #41 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle: “It’s been great—we just had a lot of gremlins in our car this whole weekend actually. But to come out of here with a fifth and a second with all the little issues we have had is actually really good. I’m really excited. Clearly Tanner had a relatively clean weekend, and we just had to deal with what we have. I think as the season goes on, you are looking at the guys that are going to be here a lot, hopefully. And we are real proud of our team. We really worked extra hard today, that’s for sure. We will come back and continue on.”

Sebastian Eriksson, #93 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic Coupe: “We had some technical issues, you know, from the final yesterday. But the team took almost all night and fixed it. The car is more than perfect—it’s only the first weekend of the new Honda Civic, and to be on the podium the first weekend is amazing.”

Red Bull Global Rallycross Phoenix (I):
1. Tanner Foust, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle
2. Patrik Sandell, #18 Bryan Herta Rallysport Ford Fiesta ST
3. Brian Deegan, #38 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Fiesta ST
4. Steve Arpin, #00 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Fiesta ST
5. Scott Speed, #41 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle
6. Joni Wiman, #31 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic Coupe
7. Jeff Ward, #07 SH Rallycross/DRR Ford Fiesta ST
8. Rhys Millen, #67 Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster
9. Sebastian Eriksson, #93 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic Coupe
10. Austin Dyne, #14 AD Racing Ford Fiesta ST
11. Sebastian Saavedra, #77 AD Racing Ford Fiesta

Red Bull Global Rallycross Phoenix II:
1. Tanner Foust, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle
2. Scott Speed, #41 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle
3. Sebastian Eriksson, #93 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic Coupe
4. Patrik Sandell, #18 Bryan Herta Rallysport Ford Fiesta ST
5. Steve Arpin, #00 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Fiesta ST
6. Brian Deegan, #38 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Fiesta ST
7. Austin Dyne, #14 AD Racing Ford Fiesta ST
8. Jeff Ward, #07 SH Rallycross/DRR Ford Fiesta ST
9. Rhys Millen, #67 Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster
10. Joni Wiman, #31 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic Coupe
11. Sebastian Saavedra, #77 AD Racing Ford Fiesta

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