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Enthusiast’s Guide To Red Bull Global Rallycross

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Red Bull’s self-sanctioned Global Rallycross Series has (apparently) been operating since 2011, and has been floating in the periphery of motorsport until as recently as late last year. It has been a fringe sport for a few years, but this year is shaping up to be legitimately an interesting breakthrough year for the series. In all honesty, I’d mostly forgotten all about the series until I happened to be in Vegas during their season finale last year (in conjunction with SEMA). It is entirely possible for this series to begin entering the public consciousness within a few years, and if it proves to be as exciting as it promises, that would be no real surprise.

With a heat-race formula, short sprints, a wide variety of chassis, engines, and manufacturers, and some of the most exciting ‘stars’ in racing, the 2014 GRC should shape up to a bit more than some hooligans in hot hatches, but no less fun to watch. Sure, it has some gimmicks, like the so-called ‘joker lap’, and ‘the penalty box’, but don’t get it mixed up, there are some real emotions and real racing going on here. One need look no further than the unchanging expression on Rhys Millen’s face to determine that this is nothing less than srs bzns. This weekend, it all kicks off in Barbados, and personally, I’m looking forward to it.

After the jump, we continue our series of articles covering the various road racing series and important races all over the world. In previous installments,  we have covered The United Sports Car Championship, the 12 hours of Sebring, the Bathurst 12 hour, Indycar, the Pirelli World Challenge, the FIA World Endurance Championship, and Formula 1.

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Current Season:

2014 is looking pretty exciting, as there are a few new faces in new cars joining the series, and a few familiar faces returning in different cars, a new team or two, and some exciting new locales to visit. The level of manufacturer involvement, media coverage, preparation, driver talent, and noise has been turned up to eleven. The schedule looks great as the series is spending some weekends in some pretty awesome locations, and working in conjunction with some pretty interesting standalone events like Top Gear Festival in Barbados, the X-games in Austin, and the SEMA show in Las Vegas. For some reason, the FIA’s version of Rallycross has waned over the last few years, and this year it is essentially a Scandanavian national series that happens to take place in not-Scandanavian locales. With the way that the FIA has mucked up their series, it’s no surprise that Red Bull’s media savvy tactics have drawn the talent pool to their corner of the rallycross world.

Rallycross photos © QNIGAN.COM

Classes:

In 2014, there are now two classes in which cars and drivers will compete head to head. The two classes will run separate events, with the ‘GRC Lites’ cars playing the support series second fiddle to the ‘GRC Supercars’ main event. While the Supercars are pretty open in their construction, allowing several different cars, lots of varying rules, and a number of exciting performance allowances, the GRC Lites cars are a spec series for new drivers to cut their teeth in.

Supercars Class:

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The Supercars class is mostly the same as it always has been. Heavily modified production-based cars with four wheel drive, small turbocharged four cylinders, and lots of safety equipment. These little hatchbacks have somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 horsepower, and with sequential manual gearboxes equipped, they sprint to sixty miles per hour in about 2 seconds.

The Supercars Drivers – 

00 – Steve Arpin – OMSE2/Royal Purple Racing Ford Fiesta ST

04 – Sarah Burgess – BME Racing Chevrolet Sonic

07 – Nelson Piquet Jr. – SH Racing Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST

11 – Sverre Isachsen – Subaru Rally Team USA Subaru WRX STI

14 – Austin Dyne – Barracuda Racing Ford Fiesta ST

18 – Patrik Sandell – Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST

27 – Emma Gilmour – Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster

31 – Joni Wiman – Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST

34 – Tanner Foust – Andretti Autosport Volkswagen Beetle

38 – Brian Deegan – Ford Racing Fiesta ST

43 – Ken Block – Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST

59 – Pat Moro – PMR Motorsports Chevrolet Sonic

67 – Rhys Millen – Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster

77 – Scott Speed – Andretti Autosport Volkswagen Beetle

81 – Bucky Lasek – Subaru Rally Team USA Subaru WRX STI

199 – Travis Pastrana – Subaru Rally Team USA Subaru WRX STI

Supercar Storylines – 

Dodge gone – After a couple of unsuccessful years, Dodge has packed it in, and their Dart will not be returning in 2014.

Pastrana back at Subie – With Dodge pulling out, this left Pastrana clear to return to his prodigal home, the Subaru Rally Team USA.

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Andretti is ‘buggin’ out’ with VW – Andretti Autosport has been rapidly expanding into a number of new motorsport disciplines, and in this one, they’ve joined forces with Volkswagen.

Foust without a Ford – 2011 and 2012 champ Tanner Foust has left his Ford team behind and joined the new Andretti VW team with ex-F1 driver Scott Speed.

No incumbent champ – 2013 X-games and GRC champion Toomas Heikkinen has left the series and joined the Volkswagen factory effort in the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

The Ken and Travis Show – I was a Rally America marketing intern for a short time during the height of the Ken Block and Travis Pastrana show. It never seems to die down, and those two will always be the media darlings. Great guys, the both of them.

Formula 1 Talent – Red Bull driver search winner  and ex-Renault driver Nelsinho Piquet are both running in the series this year. Speed was intended to only run a one-off in the season opener last year, but when he won that race, he was drafted to a full time seat, and has been picked up by Andretti for their 2014 effort.

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Lites Class:

The Lites cars are all powered by a 320 horsepower version of Ford’s Duratec 2.4 liter four cylinder engine mounted behind the driver and driving all four wheels through a SADEV sequential gearbox. All of the lites cars are ostensibly shaped like Ford Fiestas, but share absolutely nothing with any street car. All are built to exacting specification by Olsbergs MSE of Sweden.

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The Lites Drivers – 

24 – Mitchell Dejong – Olsbergs MSE

39 – Kevin Eriksson – Olsbergs MSE

60 – Tyler Benson – Rhys Millen Racing

65 – Geoff Sykes – TBA

77 – Austin Cindric – Go Puck/Nightrain GRC Team

79 – Blake Fuller – Go Puck/Nightrain GRC Team

88 – Harry Cheung – Cohesive Front Racing

126 – Alejandro Fernandez – Olsbergs MSE

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Lites Storylines – 

Penske’s Prodigy? – Austin Cindric is the son of Penske Racing’s right-hand-man Tim Cindric. With a lifetime of experience in bandoleros, legend cars, US Formula 2000, and even some historic racing in Porsches, Cindric is no newcomer to racing, and should race well above what his 1998 birthdate would lead you to believe.

Driving by Braille? – Blake Fuller, Cindric’s teammate for 2014, is the CEO of Braille Batteries, and won the Open Class at the 2002 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (when Cindric was only 4). Several years of experience should work in his favor.

Rice and beans? – Colombian born Fernandez has spent a number of years perfecting his craft in go-karts under the tutelage of Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice. Rice will continue to school Alejandro through his transition to GRC.

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Race and Television Schedule –

Round 1 – Top Gear Festival Barbados,  May 18th

(May 24, 1 p.m. ET on NBC)

Round 2 – X Games Austin, June 7th

(check local listings)

Round 3 – Volkswagen Rallycross DC, June 22nd

(LIVE, 2 p.m. ET on NBC)

Round 4 – New York City, July 20th

(LIVE, 2 p.m. ET on NBC)

Round 5 – Charlotte, July 26th

(LIVE, 3 p.m. ET on NBC)

Round 6 – Detroit, August 3rd

(LIVE, 2 p.m. ET on NBC)

Round 7 – Daytona Beach, August 23rd

(LIVE, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC)

Round 8 – Los Angeles, September 20th

(LIVE, 5 p.m. ET on NBC)

Round 9 – Seattle, September 27th

(Sept. 28, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC)

Round 10 – Las Vegas, November 5th

(Nov. 16, 2 p.m. ET on NBC)

All photos provided by redbullglobalrallycross.com and their respective teams.

  • Eric Rood

    I find it pretty disappointing that the opening round is tape-delayed, but the TV presentation of GRC was terrific last year.

    • BradleyBrownell

      Book a last minute flight to Barbados?

  • I WANT TO DRIVE ONE OF THOSE LITES!!

  • smokyburnout

    RallyX Supercars Scandanavia is a new upstart championship by STCC, which actually has been run into the ground. FIA Rallycross is doing fine, 38 entries in just the Supercars class for the next round. …

  • BradleyBrownell

    It looks like Andretti doesn't have their Beetles ready for the start of the season, and are using some Polo rallycross cars.

    <img src="; width="600">

    Strangely, they have the 7Up livery on the car, but no 7Up Logo.

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