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21 Jul 2013

GRC: Topi bags hat-trick victory

Category: GRC, News Posted 21.07.13 14:57 by

After winning X Games Munich2 in Germany as well as Round 4 of the Global RallyCross Championship series at Loudon in New Hampshire young Finn Toomas Heikkinen has claimed his third GRC win in a row at Bristol in Tennessee.

 

Bristol Motor Speedway of Bristol in Tennessee hosted the second American-based round of the Global RallyCross Championship schedule, making its debut as part of the nine-race series. The stadium, also called “The Last Great Collosseum”  or nicknamed “Thunder Valley”, is a NASCAR track, the 8th largest sports venue in the world and can host over 160,000 people. The RallyCross track featured a mix of dirt and concrete surface with a tabletop jump, using parts of the infield as well as of the, after the latest resurfacing in 2007, now 24 to 30 degrees steep banking of the rather short but highly popular NASCAR oval.

American Ken Block was the fastest driver in the practice sessions, ahead of Toomas Heikkinen and Brian Deegan, after which he also dominated both his two qualifying heats. The next pair of heats was taken by Swede Patrik Sandell, while for the third group of starters American Scott Speed won one and Norwegian Sverre Isachsen made the last heat race his. American Brian Deegan claimed the ‘Last Chance Qualifier’ from his compatriot Tanner Foust and Russian Timur Timerzyanov in the Dodge Dart of Travis Pastrana, the trio thereby entering the last race of the weekend. Here in the LCQ it was that man Foust who produced a superb start from the third row of the grid to ensure him his ticket for the main Final after just two corners of the first lap.

After the ‘Seeding’ session Toomas Heikkinen was only seventh overall, but the second place behind Ken Block in his heat race paved him the straight way into the Final. Here he made a good start to survive the usual first corners carnage and the Finn then found himself in the early lead of the 10 laps race. “I didn’t have the best start to my day and did not qualify well, but I got a good start in the main event which is what matters,” said Heikkinen later on. “I choose the right line on the inside which put me in a good position and I was able to avoid getting bumped around too much. I then took the Joker Lap in the middle of the race because I heard Ken Block may be catching me by the last few laps. Then I heard he was two seconds or so behind me so I just tried to stay focused on keeping the right line to stay ahead and then finished first.”

“This is my second win in the US and my third win with Global X Games,” said Heikkinen. “The win means so much to me right now and I am so happy and grateful to be here. It is really good to keep the championship points lead and win my third race here at Bristol. My Ford Fiesta is on fire right now and it was a great race for us. I am really enjoying racing in the United States and am just happy to have made it to the podium again.”

For Ken Block Bristol was the second podium of this year’s GRC. The “Hoonigan in Chief” finished with a less than two seconds gap as runner-up to Heikkinen. “The first turn of the main race was a bummer,” said Block afterwards. “There were a few cars banging on me and with nowhere to move I didn’t come out well on the first turn. From there I did everything that I could, but ended up two seconds behind Topi in second place. I won every heat I was in and qualified the fastest in practice, but it really means nothing in the end. With four laps to go I could see I was getting closer and closer to Topi and I was not going to give up. I put in everything trying to find the quickest line and maybe with three or four more laps I could have had him.”

“The first turn is just a crapshoot in Rallycross. I did everything possible to win and got booted around in the first corner and that was it,” claimed Block. “I am very confident at what I am doing in the car, the car is absolutely dialed and it has done everything I want it to do. My team has worked very hard to get the car where it is. I’ve been able to find lines and qualify well so I am going to continue doing everything that I can. I enjoyed the venue, it is a beautiful facility and the fans have been great. Hopefully next time we come back I am standing on top of that podium.”

For Brian Deegan the third place finish earned him his second Global RallyCross Championship podium appearance of the season. “I was in survival mode in the main event,” stated Deegan later. “Coming out of the Last Chance Qualifier we didn’t have much time to work on the car and with the fast turnaround into the main I was happy to finish third. There is a lot of luck that goes into winning a race this season, coming out of the first corner unharmed is really what it comes down to. I started dead last in the Final but I was inside. Sometimes I think the inside third row is better than the front row outside. I figured I’d stay low, out of everyone plowing into each other and that I’d be in the top five within the first few laps. I saw Topi cut high and somehow miss, I think it was Isachsen who plowed through the field and being on the inside I only made a little contact and squeezed through with a podium end result.”

“I know I have the speed so I am looking forward to the big race at X Games Los Angeles to see what I can do there,” said Deegan. “There is a whole rest of the season and I think I am steadily getting better. We’ve adjusted stuff in the car and I am starting to get back to where I was a year ago with better starts. That’s what it takes in this sport. I feel confident and feel we made a headway going into LA with my starts so I think that I will be one of the top three dudes to battle for the gold. Every time I go on the track I am in the top three or five with my times and that’s not bad for a dirt biker.”

Hat-trick FIA European Rallycross Champion Sverre Isachsen claimed a fine fourth place at Bristol Motor Speedway with his Subaru Impreza that is due to be replaced by an all-new “Made in Europe” version. The Norwegian was fast all weekend and, after winning his heat, allowed to start the main event from the first row of the grid. “I had a good start, but was hit from behind in the first corner. Still I was first out of the corner, but my exhaust broke in the crash and I lost power. But I finished the race in fourth position, and I’m satisfied with that.”

Former WRC ace Patrik Sandell was less satisfied with his result: “After a perfect weekend and taking the start in the Final I had a bad hit in the second corner which cost me a puncture in the right rear, and I dropped back to 8th position. I got myself up to 4th again, but finished 5th after yet another puncture, this time to the left rear. Too bad after such a good weekend!”

All but happy with the event and his opponents was Liam Doran after the Final in which he just made it to the first corners: “Got absolutely railed in the first turn!!! I had a great start and was on the inside when the freight train [Tanner Foust and/or Brian Deegan?] came through and destroyed my car!”

 

Video of the SuperCars Final.

 

The Final of the ‘GRC Lites’ category was started twice after Kevin Eriksson, the son of OlsbergMSE team principal Andréas Eriksson, had crashed his Ford Fiesta Mk7 soon after the GO into the tyre walls and then flipped the four-wheel driven vehicle on its roof. The re-run saw just four of the six cars and eventually a lights-to-flag victory by Finn Joni Wiman.

 

More BMS pictures to be found here in our Gallery.

 

  • FINAL RESULTS SUPERCARS:
  • 1. Toomas Heikkinen (FIN) Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST
  • 2. Ken Block (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST
  • 3. Brian Deegan (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST
  • 4. Sverre Isachsen (N) Subaru Impreza GR – 9 laps
  • 5. Patrik Sandell (S) Ford Fiesta Mk7 – 9 laps
  • 6. Steve Arpin (CDN) Ford Fiesta Mk7 – 3 laps (DNF)
  • 7. Tanner Foust (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7 – 3 laps (DNF)
  • 8. Timur Timerzyanov (RUS) Dodge Dart – 2 laps (DNF)
  • 9. Liam Doran (GB) MINI Countryman JCW 1.6 – 0.1 lap (DNF)
  • FINAL RESULTS GRC LITES:
  • 1. Joni Wiman (FIN) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 2. Austin Dyne (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 3. Alexander Westlund (S) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 4. Geoffrey Sykes (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 5. Sebastian Eriksson (S) Ford Fiesta Mk7 (DNS)
  • 6. Kevin Eriksson (S) Ford Fiesta Mk7 (DNS)