Long Beach Update: Ryan Hunter-Reay still in control

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Ryan Hunter-Reay is halfway to his second career win at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, as he’s kept control of the proceedings after starting from the pole position.

The first standing start of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season had Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport teammate James Hinchcliffe on the front row.

But when the lights went out, Hinchcliffe got off slowly while Sebastien Bourdais charged past him to pick up second behind Hunter-Reay. Simon Pagenaud and Marco Andretti also leaped past Hinchcliffe on the opening lap.

But while Andretti faded back with apparent front wing damage, Hinchcliffe was able to make up some ground and got back to third at Lap 9 of 80.

Several drivers, including Graham Rahal and Tony Kanaan, opted to pit early in a bid to make a three-stop strategy work but the race stayed clean until Lap 27.

Just after he had made his first pit stop of the day, Bourdais appeared to lock up his brakes and went into the tires at Turn 8 while under heavy pressure from Hinchcliffe in third place.

On Lap 32, the race restarted but not cleanly as Graham Rahal got into the back of Justin Wilson at the Turn 11 hairpin and turned the Englishman around.

Rahal was given a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact, but Will Power did not suffer the same fate when he got into Pagenaud in a battle for position at Turn 6.

Pagenaud got the worse of the exchange as he went into the tires there and left with a banner wrapped around his left-front suspension and damaged front wing.

Meanwhile, the day got even worse for Bourdais as he was given his own drive-through penalty for pitting in a closed pit lane at Lap 35.

A short time later, he found trouble again when he slid into the tires at Turn 9 to bring out the caution flag just at halfway. Charlie Kimball’s Chevrolet engine then blew up, forcing the safety crew to push him behind the wall.

When the green came back out at Lap 46, Hunter-Reay was leading Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Helio Castroneves.

Sports imitates art with Tyler Bereman’s Red Bull Imagination course

Red Bull Imagination Bereman
Chris Tedesco / Red Bull Content Pool
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This past weekend riders took on the Red Bull Imagination, a one-of-a-kind event conceived by Tyler Bereman – an event that blended art, imagination, and sports.

In its third year, Red Bull Imagination opened to the public for the first-time, inviting fans to experience a more personal and creative side of the riders up close and personal.

As the event elevates its stature, the course gets tougher. The jumps get higher and the competition stouter. This year’s course took inspiration from a skatepark, honoring other adrenaline-laced pastimes and competitions.

“There’s a ton of inspiration from other action sports,” Bereman told Red Bull writer Eric Shirk as he geared up for the event.

MORE: Trystan Hart wins Red Bull Tennessee Knockout 

Bereman was the leading force in the creation of this event and the winner of its inaugural running. In 2022, Bereman had to settle for second with Axell Hodges claiming victory on the largest freeride course created uniquely for the Red Bull Imagination.

Unlike other courses, Bereman gave designer Jason Baker the liberty to create obstacles and jumps as he went. And this was one of the components that helped the course imitate art.

Baker’s background in track design comes from Supercross. In that sport, he had to follow strict guidelines and build the course to a specific length and distance. From the building of the course through the final event, Bereman’s philosophy was to give every person involved, from creators to riders, fans and beyond, the chance to express themselves.

He wanted the sport to bridge the valley between racing and art.

Tyler Bereman uses one of Red Bull Imagination’s unique jumps. Garth Milan / Red Bull Content Pool

Hodges scored a 98 on the course and edged Bereman by two points. Both riders used the vast variety of jumps to spend a maximum amount of time airborne. Hodges’s first run included nearly every available obstacle including a 180-foot jump before backflipping over the main road.

The riders were able to secure high point totals on their first runs. Then, the wind picked up ahead of Round 2. Christian Dresser and Guillem Navas were able to improve their scores on the second run by creating new lines on the course and displaying tricks that did not need the amount of hangtime as earlier runs. They were the only riders to improve from run one to run two.

With first and second secured with their early runs, Hodge and Bereman teamed up to use their time jointly to race parallel lines and create tandem hits. The two competitors met at the center of the course atop the Fasthouse feature and revved their engines in an embrace.

Julien Vanstippen rounded out the podium with a final score of 92; his run included a landing of a 130-foot super flip.