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11 Aug 2013

GRC: It’s alright, just take five

Category: GRC, News Posted 11.08.13 20:51 by

The Atlanta Motor Speedway at Hampton in Georgia hosted Round 7 of the Global RallyCross Championship and it was that incredible Finn Toomas “Topi” Heikkinen who took his fifth GRC win in a row here.

 

The 22 years old Finn Toomas Heikkinen is on his way to win the 2013 Global RallyCross Championship series with almost no resistance. At Hampton in Georgia the OMSE Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST campaigner claimed his fifth consecutive victory, winning the all decisive Final way ahead of runner-up American Tanner Foust. Threefold European Rallycross Champion Sverre Isachsen from Norway claimed another third place after his LA X Games podium place one week ago, to regain lost territory in the point standings. With his second place Foust denied Heikkinen from clinching the overall championship already here, his compatriot Brian Deegan is currently third. With American Ken Block in fourth and Swede Patrik Sandell in fifth place Isachsen is among the top half-a-dozen now, not a bad situation at all seen that the whole Subaru team missed out the Brazilian X Games event in Foz do Iguaçu.

“Topi” started the Atlanta round by setting the fastest time in the practice sessions [aka Seeding], Ken Block was second quickest. However, Block had just done his fastest lap when he rolled his M-Sport built Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST to produce some hectic work for his team. His guys did a great job by fixing the car so well that the “Big Carhoona” was able to win his two qualifying heats to ensure himself a place in the first row of the Final grid. But bad luck was to strike again when the GO for the last race of the day was given.

Block later on: “Today started off great, the same way a lot of my Global RallyCross races have been going this year: fastest in all practice sessions, qualified second, and won both my heats by 7 and 9 seconds. But, my bad luck struck again – my race was lost on the line at the Final, thanks to a broken hose clamp (a generic racing part). I’m driving at my absolute fastest, and my team can’t work any harder (we’ve been first or second fastest in the last four races), all I’m missing now is luck!”

Like Block his make colleague Heikkinen also won both his qualifying runs, therefore allowed to put his Mk7 Fiesta on the pole position for the main event. Here he stormed right away into the Joker Lap shortcut to lead the Final from the start lights to the chequered flag. “It was quite a different race for me since I am now trying to win the championship,” said Heikkinen. “I had a really great start in my Ford Fiesta ST in the final race, took the joker on the first lap, and was able to keep the lead. I have come such a long way from last season,” said Heikkinen, who suffered a fractured leg last year during the X Games in Los Angeles and then missed the remainder of the year. “I am confident once again in the car and think that I have the best one out there. It is always a battle, but I am very happy to be on top right now.”

Heikkinen’s OMSE teammate Tanner Foust was dog-hounding “Topi” for a couple of laps, but was even then no real threat for the Finn. “This track was really a difficult track and it once again came down to how you did on the start and avoiding collisions in the first corner,” said Foust, who was sixth fastest in practice, but finished second in the first heat and won the second to advance to the nine-car Final. “Second never feels great, but I am glad to be on the podium again. Topi had a great start. I thought I was gaining on him, but with three laps to go I got a puncture on the front left tire,” continued Foust. “I didn’t realize I had a puncture until I went through the water and was instantly sideways at the top of fifth gear going 100mph. That’s when I knew there was something wrong and from then on it was a matter of managing the position in second and keeping ahead of the rest of the field.”

Reigning European champion Timur Timerzyanov, who once again replaced Travis Pastrana in the Dodge Dart SuperCar #199, made it to fifth place overall and thereby his best GRC result so far. The Tatarstan Russian paved his way into the Final by finishing second in the Last Chance Qualifier. After the start “TT” grabbed the lead, but during the last lap had to give in for Subaru driver American Dave Mirra. As the top three LCQ finishers advanced to the Final to complete the nine-car grid it was Mirra, Timerzyanov and Isachsen who joined the straight qualifiers Heikkinen, Block, Foust, Deegan, American Scott Speed and Canadian Steve Arpin in Hampton. “Not bad if you see how we started the day,” Timerzyanov said. “With all the issues we had, today’s fifth place finish in the Final is good and the guys on the team are happy. Ken Block had a problem on the start and I had to brake and turn to the left to get past him. That took away a good start which is so important in Rallycross.”

Timerzyanov’s teammate Henning Solberg, who filled in for regular Bryce Menzies here, had less luck with the Dart #99. A broken gearbox, defective wipers and fuel pump issues hampered the Norwegian during the practice sessions as well as in the qualifying heats, and the last chance to advance to the Final was spoiled by a broken driveshaft soon after the start of the Last Chance Qualifier. “I tried my best, but that’s how it is,” Solberg said. “The driveshaft came out in the first corner. It just snapped. The car is not bad. I have to say the car is good, but it needs some work. It will be good when we get some things fixed.”

 

Video of the SuperCars Final.

 

Not the fifth victory in a row, as claimed by his fellow-countryman Heikkinen, but “only” the fourth consecutive win was bagged by Finn Joni Wiman in the GRC Lites category. The protégé of WRC legend Marcus Grönholm won the six-cars Final of the beginners category from American Mitchell DeJong and Swede Sebastian Eriksson. “If someone would have told me prior to the series start that I’m going to win four out of four rounds in a row, I would have never believed that. I had a lot of setbacks in my career so far, but this way I can keep my prospects as a racer intact,” said 19 years old Wiman after the event to the press of the Swedish speaking region in his native Finland.

 

More pictures from Atlanta to be found here in our Gallery.

 

  • FINAL RESULTS SUPERCARS:
  • 1. Toomas Heikkinen (FIN) Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST
  • 2. Tanner Foust (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST
  • 3. Sverre Isachsen (N) Subaru Impreza GR
  • 4. Dave Mirra (USA) Subaru Impreza GR
  • 5. Timur Timerzyanov (RUS) Dodge Dart
  • 6. Brian Deegan (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST (DNF)
  • 7. Scott Speed (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7 (DNF)
  • 8. Ken Block (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7 (DNF)
  • 9. Steve Arpin (CDN) Ford Fiesta Mk7 (DNF)
  • Last Chance Qualifier:
  • 10. Henning Solberg (N) Dodge Dart
  • 11. Patrik Sandell (S) Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST
  • 12. “Bucky” Lasek (USA) Subaru Impreza GR
  • FINAL RESULTS GRC LITES:
  • 1. Joni Wiman (FIN) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 2. Mitchell DeJong (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 3. Sebastian Eriksson (S) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 4. Alexander Westlund (S) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 5. Kevin Eriksson (S) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 6. Reinis Nitišs (LV) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • Last Chance Qualifier:
  • 7. Geoffrey Sykes (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 8. Austin Dyne (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 9. Harry Cheung (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 10. Tyler Benson (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7