Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull GRC: Saturday heat races, pre-race notebook

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LOS ANGELES – Once again, there are lots to get through before the semifinals and finals start today at Red Bull Global Rallycross’ season finale weekend, Red Bull GRC Los Angeles presented by Honda.

Here’s a recap of a number of nuggets around the paddock:

Heat race winners are:

  • Supercars: Heat 1A: Scott Speed; Heat 1B: Joni Wiman; Heat 2A: Scott Speed; Heat 2B: Joni Wiman
  • GRC Lites: Heat 1A: Alex Keyes; Heat 1B: Oliver Eriksson

The track here at Port of Los Angeles is painted pink in portions (pictured, top) at what’s ordinarily red curbing and off-course areas. Susan G. Komen Foundation representatives will be on site to educate and bring attention to the initiative, as well as accepting donations. This weekend’s course will also feature pink and white stripes on the infield to promote awareness.

Per the series, it took five people over three days to paint the track with two primary painters and the other three people assisting.

Great crowd thus far from those who’ve made it on the grounds at the Port of LA. It was a really long line for fans to get in:

Henry Ford III is here to provide a Ford family presence on site this weekend. There’s five Ford Fiesta STs entered within GRC’s Supercars class (two Chip Ganassi Rallycross, one Bryan Herta Rallysport, one SH Rallycross/DRR and one AD Racing) among the 13-car field, which is most in the field. By comparison, there’s three Hondas and Subarus apiece, and two Volkswagens.

On Friday, IndyCar veteran Oriol Servia made it out to the track for a day of ride-alongs and taking in the atmosphere. The Catalan rode shotgun with Steve Arpin, driver of the No. 00 ENEOS USA Ford Fiesta ST for Chip Ganassi Rallycross. Servia had a blast doing so, although I’ll admit it was weird to see him as a passenger and not driving himself!

Servia, who lives in nearby Santa Monica, is not the only member of the IndyCar world here this weekend. It actually feels as though it’s an IndyCar weekend with the high volume of IndyCar people present.

To wit, we’ve seen:

  • Michael Andretti and Rob Edwards (Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross)
  • Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan (SH Rallycross/DRR)
  • Bryan Herta (Bryan Herta Rallysport)
  • Dennis Reinbold (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing)
  • Conor Daly (Dale Coyne Racing in IndyCar; guest of Honda this weekend)
  • Dale Coyne (attending his first GRC race)

Many of the IndyCar team owners or co-owners often can’t attend Red Bull GRC races owing to IndyCar conflicts.

Daly, who’s here as a guest of Honda this weekend, is expected to test drive one of Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE’s Honda Civic Coupes on Monday after the weekend. The talented, young American overachieved this year with Coyne’s IndyCar team and remains determined to continue in the championship for a second full season, although nothing for him is done yet.

Had a long chat with Buddy Rice, who is program manager for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s GRC Lites team. Rice hailed the camaraderie of the Red Bull GRC paddock, noting how much other teams will help pitch in when cars go down with damage or mechanical failures. Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion, drove for DRR during portions of his IndyCar career, which spanned from 2002 through 2011.

DRR’s two GRC Lites drivers are motivated to succeed this weekend. Alex Keyes won his first heat race in the No. 24 Traction Factory/WIX Filters entry, Heat 1A. Keyes told NBC Sports the track at LA this year is significantly wider and faster, but it’s still difficult to pass.

Cabot Bigham meanwhile, suffered a setback in his heat race in the No. 2 Paratek Pharmaceuticals/WIX Filters entry and the crew was thrashing on his car after his heat race.

Past DRR Lites driver Miles Maroney and his father Michael are on site this weekend, catching up with drivers and teams in the paddock. The younger Maroney, now 23 and who made his debut in the American Le Mans Series as a 17-year-old in PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Prototype Challenge car at Long Beach in April 2011, is looking to get back into the series, with a Supercars drive the target for the talented Californian.

Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool
Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Patrik Sandell’s No. 18 Cuttwood Ford Fiesta ST for Bryan Herta Rallysport features King Taco signage on the left and right rear window covers. The California restaurant was also on Alexander Rossi’s No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda of Andretti-Herta Autosport for the Verizon IndyCar Series weekend here in April.

More to follow after this afternoon’s semifinals and final round races.

Formula E: Vergne outlasts di Grassi for Punta del Este victory

Photo: Getty Images
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Saturday’s Punta del Este ePrix did not disappoint, with Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi engaging in a thrilling battle throughout the entire race.

Vergne led the way from the pole, having been promoted up the grid after original pole sitter di Grassi was ruled to have cut a chicane during his pole lap, but di Grassi was right on the back wing of Vergne the entire way and made several attempts to get by.

The intense battle between the two, which saw them nearly lock Vergne’s rear wing with di Grassi’s front nose, stayed remarkably clean for the most part, and Vergne was able to hold off all of di Grassi’s advances, a few of which can be viewed below, to take the win.

DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird was also on the charge, the British driver coming from ninth on the grid to take third.

Full race results can be viewed here. The victory sees Vergne extend his points lead over Mahindra Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist, who finished fifth, to 30 points, with Vergne on 109 markers and Rosenqvist on 79.

Bird sits third with 76 points, respectively.