SPOILER: Red Bull Global Rallycross at Top Gear Festival Barbados

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Yesterday marked the opening round of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season, the Top Gear Festival Barbados. All the action from the weekend’s festivities at the Bushy Park Circuit will be shown this Saturday, May 24, at 1 p.m. ET on NBC. If you don’t want to know who won, and would prefer to wait until the TV broadcast for finding out the full field results, we would advise you read no further.

Andretti Autosport got on the board in the Verizon IndyCar Series a few weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park when Ryan Hunter-Reay won the third race of the year. They got their first win of the new Red Bull Global Rallycross season in the season opener in Barbados, courtesy of Scott Speed in a weekend comeback.

Speed, who drives the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team’s No. 77 7UP Volkswagen Polo, suffered a mechanical failure in one of the heat races and needed to rebound. But after scoring a win in a later heat race to transfer into the final, he was able to pull off the victory in the race.

“It was an awesome weekend here in Barbados,” Speed said. “We had the speed right away, but with a big mechanical issue in the heat race, we had to come from behind from that point on. The guys did a great job twice, getting the car ready to make qualifying and to make it into the last heat. We were hoping that we were going to win our first time out this season, but it’s really special for everyone at Andretti, Volkswagen, 7UP and United Fiber & Data. We’re all going to celebrate this win!”

Steve Arpin and Brian Deegan rounded out the podium finishers.

Ken Block suffered a barrel roll on the opening lap after hitting a curb. Here’s a picture Block posted to his Instagram page describing the accident, from his vantage point.

Here’s what he wrote: “Here’s the unusual and weird crash sequence from today’s #GlobalRallycross final here in Barbados. Perfectly fine and fighting for the lead one second, and then I’m airborne/upside-down/flying towards the wall the next. So lame to go out on the first round like this, all because of a kerb cut (which other drivers had done as well). But hey, that’s racing. My team and I will be back in full force for the next GRC race. #kerbsgonewild #wentoutswinging”

More information is available via the series website.

Spencer Pigot ready for full-season IndyCar effort with ECR

Photo: IndyCar
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After spending the last two years in a part-time role with Ed Carpenter Racing, contesting the road and street course races in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, Spencer Pigot now gets a long-awaited chance at a full-season effort in 2018.

Moving over to the No. 21 entry, which has featured ECR’s full-season driver since 2016, Pigot has seen slight differences in his off-season prep ahead of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“We were one of the teams that got to a handful of days testing the aero kit, so I obviously did all the running on the road courses, but I was able to do a few laps on the ovals when Ed was testing. So, that wouldn’t have happened (if I was part-time still),” he told NBC Sports.

However, outside of that increase in testing and a little learning some new tracks – he has not raced at ISM Raceway, Gateway Motorsports Park, Pocono Raceway, or Iowa Speedway in an IndyCar – the changes to Pigot’s off-season program have not been dramatic.

“There’s definitely some things I’ll need to learn, but as far as off-season prep: nothing too dramatic, nothing too different.”

Pigot’s first full-season campaign saw its first official outing of the 2018 season last weekend during the open test at ISM Raceway. While he and the ECR team struggled to find speed much of the weekend – they languished outside of the top ten in the results of the first three sessions – things took a turn for the better during the final session of the weekend on Saturday night, when Pigot ended up ninth on the speed charts.

He ended up 14th in the combined results for the weekend, noting that he and the team still want to find more outright speed.

“I thought throughout the test that our average long run pace was okay, but we were still missing the outright pace to be where we need to be come qualifying time,” he revealed. “I think that we definitely made a step forward Saturday night and definitely have a much better idea of a direction we can head and go with when we go back.”

In terms of long-run practice, Pigot noted that tire degradation became much more prevalent, which made running with others cars around you somewhat of a challenge. Though, he emphasized that tire degradation could be beneficial for racing.

“Talking to some of the other guys, it seems a little bit harder to run behind people as the tires go off because the tires are degrading pretty quick with the lack of downforce as well,” he explained. “So, it’s going to be tricky, it’s going to be sliding around a little bit more than what guys have experienced in the past. But, I think everyone’s under the same kind of idea that it’s going to be better racing, and especially at (ISM Raceway) it should be exciting.”

Pigot did get some practice at overtaking at ISM and got a feel for what he may be able to expect when IndyCar returns in April for the Phoenix Grand Prix, and while he acknowledged it was difficult to judge during testing, he did feel like he could run around other cars without much of an issue.

“It’s not like a race when everyone comes in the pits at the same time and you’re all on similar tires, so it’s kind of hard to know exactly. But, I thought we were pretty good,” he detailed. “I thought I was able to run pretty close to guys in front of me and was able to make a few passes when other guys made mistakes or might have gone a little high.”

The test also served as Pigot’s first IndyCar venture on a short oval – he last ran on a short oval in 2015 during his Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship season.

“The corners definitely come up quick. There’s not much time to really relax or think about too much,” Pigot quipped when describing his first time on a short oval.

He continued, “You’ve got to concentrate pretty hard on being precise because the line there is very narrow so you have to make sure that you’re where the grip is at all points throughout the corner. And then, when everyone’s out there and you run in traffic, it’s just like you’re constantly in a corner, so it’s a little more difficult to get big runs and drafts off people. But I think it’ll definitely play into the hands of guys that have their cars set up well and can be easier on the tires.”

And in becoming the team’s full-time driver, Pigot is seeing a slight increase in his leadership role within the team, especially as it relates to testing and development, with Pigot doing the lion’s share of testing during the winter on road courses.

But, he also emphasized the oval prowess of teammate, and team owner, Ed Carpenter as something he will lean on when he ventures out on other ovals for the first time this year.

“Especially as we’re trying to learn this new aero kit, I was the one that pretty much did all the testing on the road and street courses. It was kind of me and the engineers trying to develop the car and work towards the setup that’s going to work for us. So, there’s definitely a little more responsibility in that. But, then on the ovals, obviously Ed’s there and he’s a great teammate to have and to learn from and bounce ideas off of. But, yeah, it’s definitely a more involved role within the team,” Pigot explained.

Pigot and ECR will test two more times, at Barber Motorsports Park and Sebring International Raceway, in the month of February prior to the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11.

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