Red Bull GRC: Rhys Millen talks about his Washington joyride (VIDEO)

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Rhys Millen and Red Bull Global Rallycross sure know how to make an entrance.

To promote this weekend’s Volkswagen Rallycross DC event at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C., Millen got a police escort around the city in his No. 67 Hyundai Veloster.

But the New Zealand racer was not content to cruise, and instead showcased some of the driving skills that has made him a top-tier competitor in both rally racing and drifting.

In addition to racing, Millen works as a stunt driver in motion pictures, with films such as The Dukes of Hazzard and multiple editions of the “The Fast and the Furious” franchise on his resume.

But this week has marked his first time visiting Washington in all of his travels, and he wanted to make sure it didn’t begin with any issues during the stunt.

“The pressure was definitely on not to make a mistake with all the Secret Service people and the police that were right there ready to pounce if we did make a mistake or break any laws,” Millen told MotorSportsTalk this afternoon.

“We had tight restrictions, but we had great people that worked with us inside and outside of production there in the city. We paid them respect, they gave us respect, and we got the job done.”

Millen reports that the locals in the region are getting fired up about Red Bull GRC’s event this weekend, which marks the first time in over a decade that D.C. has played host to professional motorsports.

He expects that they’ll be treated to a great show on Saturday and Sunday at a course that, from his perspective, has been well-put together by promoters Andretti Sports Marketing.

Additionally, he thinks the course will suit his and teammate Emma Gilmour’s Hyundais well.

“The course is designed in a way that I would consider it a low to medium speed course, although there are a couple of straightaways where you can open the car up,” Millen said.

“It’s really about placing your vehicle in the right position and having the chance to be very dynamic. Our car has been working really well. We’re probably down on power over some of the cars with more development, but that probably shouldn’t be a factor on a course like this.”

However, Millen knows he needs to get a proper result after good runs in the season’s first two races were derailed.

He made it to the final round at the Barbados opener only to be knocked out with a fuel pick-up issue. Then at X Games Austin, contact with another driver in his quarterfinal heat led to him being penalized and unable to advance.

Still, Millen is pleased with the Hyundai’s overall performance and believes that if he can run clean, a good day can be had in the Capitol.

“If there’s no mistakes and a little bit of luck, I think we’ll be in a great position for this weekend,” he said.

You can catch Millen and the rest of the Red Bull Global Rallycross drivers in action Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.

Volkswagen Rallycross DC will also be streamed online and on your mobile device through NBC Sports Live Extra.

F1 drivers split on new ‘shield’ protection

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) Formula One drivers are split over plans to test a new “shield” device to protect against flying debris.

The FIA will trial the transparent screen in the coming months for a potential introduction in 2018, as it pushes for greater head protection for drivers. Recent years have seen major head injuries in several motorsport series.

“I wouldn’t mind trying out the shield, seeing how is the visibility,” Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said on Thursday. “In terms of safety it would be a good step compared to what we have now.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was another supporter, saying “we’ve still got to see a bit more, but first impressions seem OK.”

The FIA previously seemed to favor a metal frame known as the “halo,” which was designed to stop a flying wheel hitting a driver’s head but was criticized by some drivers on aesthetic grounds.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat said on Thursday he was “quite against” the shield and the halo. “The way Formula One should look should remain the same,” he added. “We have enough protection.”

Romain Grosjean of Haas voiced concern the “next step” would be completely closed cockpits.

Recent years have seen several high-profile head injuries, including the deaths of Formula Two driver Henry Surtees in 2009 when he was hit by a loose wheel and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who was struck by debris, in 2015.

In Formula One, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa missed the second half of the 2009 season when a loose spring from another car hit his helmet, leaving him needing surgery.

Haas changes F1 brake supplier ahead of Russian Grand Prix

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Haas has switched from Brembo to Carbon Industrie brakes ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix in a bid to remedy its long-running braking issues in Formula 1.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation onto the F1 grid in 2016, with Romain Grosjean scoring all 29 of its points through its debut season.

Grosjean and then-teammate Esteban Gutierrez had their efforts spurned on a number of occasions by brake issues which continued to arise through pre-season testing in 2017 and the early races.

Haas pushed to remedy the issue by testing new Carbon Industrie brakes in the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test, with Grosjean and new teammate Kevin Magnussen conducting running.

The team duly decided to fit the new Carbon Industrie brakes for this weekend’s race in Russia, with both VF-17 cars to run with them from Friday onwards.

“To be fair to Brembo, the last update in brakes we had that arrived in China were much better. It took a long time to get them,” Grosjean explained.

“So then I was not screaming to change to Carbone Industrie but it was in the pipeline, so we tried them, and both drivers were pretty pleased with them. We felt like we had more control under braking.

“I’m very sensitive to my left pedal, so I really need to get good brakes to get good confidence and push the car to its maximum limit. So we are going to run them here.

“There is still a little bit of work we need to be doing around the mapping and finding the solution around those brakes but I think yeah, definitely it’s going to help me a little bit to find the last few hundredths.”

NHRA: Chad Head to substitute for Alexis DeJoria in Charlotte

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Alexis DeJoria will miss this weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, with her Kalitta Motorsports team confirming DeJoria will need to tend to a family matter.

Chad Head, Kalitta Motorsports Director of Safety, will step into the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry this weekend. No timetable was given for DeJoria’s return; after Charlotte this weekend, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues for its third consecutive race weekend next week in Atlanta.

This isn’t the first race DeJoria has had to miss recently, as she also was diagnosed with a concussion and missed the 2016 NHRA season finale in Pomona.

F1 Paddock Pass: Russian Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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Following his victory in Bahrain two weeks ago, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel arrived in Russia on Thursday targeting a third win of the year to extend his lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.

Not since 2004 has a Ferrari driver made such a good start to a season, putting Vettel in contention for a fifth world title this year – although with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton hot on his tail, it will have to be a hard-earned success.

The fourth round of the year sees F1 head to the Olympic city of Sochi, which hosted the winter games back in 2014. The Sochi Autodrom played host to its first grand prix the same year, and is now a key part of Russia’s post-Olympic legacy.

Bringing you all of the latest news and interviews ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Will Buxton brings you Paddock Pass.