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27 May 2012

GRC: Grönholm takes Charlotte

Category: GRC, May, News Posted 27.05.12 13:21 by

Marcus Grönholm gains first round win in the opening round of the 2012 Global RallyCross Championship series at Charlotte, North Carolina.

Former Rally World Champion Marcus Grönholm proves that he is still a force to be reckoned with, dominating the first round of the Global RallyCross Championship, and picking up top points from a start to finish lead in Saturday’ Final.

Marcus Grönholm had topped the list of 17 drivers with the fastest lap time in the Global RallyCross Championship’s opening qualifying session at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “It means a lot for the team, the manufacturer and the sponsor,” said the Finn after.

Grönholm led the Final from the start entering the joker-lap early, with Brit David Binks and fellow Finn Toomas Heikkinen engaged in battle behind. Grönholm was faultless, holding on to his lead in his Best Buy Mobile Ford Fiesta. American and European Rallycross Championship competitor Tanner Foust was the only American driver to finish in an all European top five, exiting his joker-lap and successfully funneling in to the front pack in second place. Scott-Eklund driver, Andy Scott produced a great performance to finish in fourth place above teammate Samuel Hübinette. Scott who came up from the last chance qualifier, battled his way into the main event working his way up from the back of the grid alongside Rhys Millen. Frenchman Stéphane Verdier finished in third place.

Although it was clear that Grönholm trounced the final, the remaining positions were highly contested. Binks pushed hard, eventually braking late and hitting the tire wall, but showed that he has potential to push for the top spots. Ex-Saab driver Heikkinen was also involved in heavy contact, consequently ending the night for Travis Pastrana. Heikkinen pushed Pastrana into the pit-lane barrier during lap three and Pastrana was forced to exit the final dueto damaged suspension. Heikkinen then spun out former BMX star Dave Mirra two laps later. The young Finn ended the race in third after contact with Hübinette on the last lap, but was black-flagged at the end of the race and dropped back to last in the 10-car field. It seems that Heikkinen’s new mentor Andréas Eriksson has reinforced the need for aggression.

During the first qualifying session Marcus Grönholm set the fastest time ahead of Tanner Foust and teammate Brian Deegan. The first five spots were taken by Ford Fiesta’s. Three time FIA European Rallycross Champion Sverre Isachsen (Subaru Impreza GR) was the first non-Ford driver and qualified sixth, but eventually only managed to finish the event in 12th behind both of his Subaru/Puma teammates.

The action took place on a makeshift course that utilised the front section of the 1.5-mile Charlotte oval, along with the pit lane and included a number of water-filled barricades used to funnel race traffic through the course. Although criticised for its lack of dirt and gravel sections the event showcased the sheer power of Rallycross cars and produced some great car-to-car action.

The next GRC event is to be held at the Texas Motor Speedway on June 9th.

 

Update of June 4!

GRC organisers information: “Following a post race review and notifiication of the teams, the GRC amended the results from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Having navigated the short cut twice in the Final, Car No. 40, driven by Dave Mirra, was disqualified from the heat and therefore relegated to ninth place from eighth place as originally scored. The amended result moves Car No. 199, driven by Travis Pastrana, to eighth place.”

            

  • FINAL RESULTS:
  • 1. Marcus Grönholm (FIN) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 2. Tanner Foust (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 3. Stéphane Verdier (F) Hyundai Veloster
  • 4. Andy Scott (GB) Saab 9-3
  • 5. Samuel Hübinette (S) Saab 9-3
  • 6. Rhys Millen (NZ) Hyundai Veloster
  • 7. David Binks (GB) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 8. Travis Pastrana (USA) Dodge Dart
  • 9. Dave Mirra (USA) Subaru Impreza GR
  • 10. Toomas Heikkinen (FIN) Ford Fiesta Mk7 (black flag!)
  • 11. “Bucky” Lasek (USA) Subaru Impreza GR
  • 12. Sverre Isachsen (N) Subaru Impreza GR
  • 13. Tim Rooney (USA) Subaru Impreza GD
  • 14. Patrick Moro (USA) Subaru Impreza GD
  • 15. Ken Block (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 16. Brian Deegan (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 17. Richard Burton (CDN) Subaru Impreza GD

 

Top photo caption:  Joker Lap immediately after the start and Marcus Grönholm leading the pack.  © QBA/ERC24