Another thrilling season of Red Bull Global Rallycross has come to a close. Despite the departure of perennial series regular and crowd favorite Ken Block this year, as well as the absence of Las Vegas from the event calendar, the competition was as exciting as ever.
This double-header event at the Port of Los Angeles determined the season champions for both Supercars and GRC Lites. Multiple heats in two complete events – one on Saturday and another on Sunday, produced numerous race starts, plenty of on-track battles and close finishes.
The battle for the series championship in Supercars was a real nail biter. Going into Sunday’s races, Tanner Foust led his Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross teammate Scott Speed (last year’s champion and former Formula One racer), but in dramatic fashion Speed overtook Foust to win the series championship by a slim six points. Tanner Foust, himself a multiple-time Red Bull Global Rallycross champion, accepted defeat graciously.
Brian Deegan had not won a Supercar race in five long years but that changed in what some said was “the move of the race,” if not the move of the year. Here’s how it went down.
In the early stages of Sunday’s feature race, Patrick Sandell, Scott Speed and Tanner Foust all took the Joker Lap and were ahead of Deegan, who described it this way (according to Red Bull GRC News):
“It came down to patience in the final. There was a lot of carnage in that first turn, and I knew there was going to be – it was the last race of the year. I survived it and I was fourth. The guys (in front) took the Joker, I went around, and no one took the Joker in between us.”
While the three of them battled each other, putting lots of wear and tear on their equipment, Deegan worked his way towards them, lap after lap, biding his time for one big move near the end of the race:
“My spotter Troy (Adams) was like, just take a breath and relax. I always get way too aggravated. He was like, you don’t say! I started laughing. I hung in there and I was right with Tanner. (Adams) kept telling me just wait and I kept wanting to take the Joker. He was like, ‘just wait.’”
“It came down to the last laps in the final and I saw Scott (Speed) making a move for the lead and I thought I had to go before he gaps. I went (to take the Joker) and cleared three cars – I couldn’t believe it. I came across and I was thinking they’ll have to blow me out of the way for this one. I was just taking the line and went as wide as I can get. I just held the main line and brought it home.”
Deegan could not contain his euphoric joy on the podium.
In another tight, close-fought battle – this time in GRC Lites – Cabot Bingham advanced in a chaotic final feature race from a last place start to pass and beat 2015 series champion Oliver Ericksson by only five points for their series title.
In past years the series finale has been held in Las Vegas, at the same time as the SEMA Show – a huge automotive aftermarket trade show. Last year’s Red Bull GRC finale was particularly spectacular. Hail and lightning in the afternoon – which was so bad that it forced the temporary, complete evacuation of the event venue – and then more driving rain during the feature races on a bone-chillingly cold November evening, transformed the racetrack into a sea of mud, causing the racecars to go in every direction, on and off the racetrack (for photos check out “AutoMatters & More” # 411, entitled “Stormy Weather at the Red Bull Global Rallycross Season Finale”). While it made for great television, the weather was brutal for spectators, race crews, racers and members of the press alike.
In stark contrast, this year’s season finale was held under beautiful, sunny skies, in balmy weather next to the Pacific Ocean at the Port of Los Angeles. This made it easier and much more comfortable for the spectators who were there in person to see and enjoy the close racing, complete with cars, dirt and car parts flying through the air.
For more information, go to redbullglobalrallycross.com and click on the RESULTS tab.
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Copyright © 2016 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #459