Red Bull GRC: Rhys Millen, Hyundai score Daytona win

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Rhys Millen became the fifth different winner of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season this afternoon at Daytona International Speedway, beating out Ken Block and Bucky Lasek to score the victory in his Hyundai Veloster.

“It’s just amazing with how strong the car was coming into this weekend,” Millen told NBC after his inaugural Red Bull GRC win. “To have the troubles of blowing an engine yesterday with a cam belt failure – but the car was on point.

“We had the fastest car this weekend, had some respectable driving from the other competitors up front, and we did what we set out to do three years ago.”

Millen, a former world record holder in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, set himself up for the final with a victory in the first semi over Lasek and Patrik Sandell.

Semifinal Two began with contact between Block and Scott Speed in the hairpin section. Speed sustained front-end damage severe enough to knock him out of the race, but just a few turns later, Block was apparently pushed off track by championship leader Nelson Piquet Jr., who took over the point.

A few laps later, Piquet was told by Race Control to serve a stop-and-go penalty, sending him back to third behind Austin Dyne and Tanner Foust. Foust ramped up the pressure on Dyne heading for the final lap, but on the entry to Turn 1, Foust lost control and spun into the tire barriers.

Luckily for him, the damage was minimal enough to allow him to continue in third place, which is where he would take the checkered flag behind Dyne and second-place Piquet.

That led into the last chance qualifier, which was led wire-to-wire by Block with Joni Wiman in second and Sverre Isachsen in third. The fourth and last transfer spot to the final, however, was in doubt up to the very end.

On Lap 2 of the 4-lap LCQ, Speed and his wounded VW took the joker to move past Steve Arpin for fourth. The final lap saw Arpin draw close to Speed, but he went off-course, ensuring that Speed would hold on and make the main event.

In the 8-lap final, Millen quickly pulled away from a tight battle for second between Block and Dyne that saw them flip-flop positions through the hairpins before Block came up with it.

On Lap 3, Lasek used the joker to take the third and final podium position from Dyne, only to come under attack from a charging Foust late in the race. Foust got the inside position on Lasek but took the entrance to the hairpins section too tight and got turned around, while Speed was spotted exiting his car after running into a barrier.

Away from it all was Millen, who went on to a well-deserved win.

Red Bull GRC now moves on to a pivotal doubleheader weekend at the Port of Los Angeles on Saturday, September 20 and Sunday, September 21. Piquet will enter Tinseltown with a 40-point lead in the standings over Block.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra (online/mobile) will air each day’s final live at 5 p.m. ET.

RED BULL GLOBAL RALLYCROSS AT DAYTONA – Final
Unofficial Results

1. 67-Rhys Millen
2. 43-Ken Block, -1.8 seconds
3. 81-Bucky Lasek, -11.4 seconds
4. 18-Patrik Sandell, -17.4 seconds
5. 11-Sverre Isachsen, -28.4 seconds
6. 34-Tanner Foust, -49.2 seconds
7. 31-Joni Wiman, -55.9 seconds
8. 07-Nelson Piquet Jr., -67.2 seconds
9. 14-Austin Dyne, one lap down
10. 77-Scott Speed, one lap down

F1: Red Bull Racing confirms switch to Honda engines next season

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Honda will become Red Bull’s engine supplier from next season after the Formula One team confirmed its anticipated split with Renault on Tuesday.

The Japanese manufacturer will supply engines for 2019 and 2020, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed the deal as “an exciting new phase” in the bid to return to the top of F1.

“After careful consideration and evaluation, we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team,” Horner said in a team statement. “We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our (feeder) team Toro Rosso.”

It is a boost for Honda, which was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren at the end of last year.

Honda has started this season brightly as engine provider for Toro Rosso, and this may have been a key factor in Red Bull finally ditching Renault.

“Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula One teams provides enormous potential,” Horner said. “Honda will have access to a wealth of data from both outfits, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing leading the way, and the opportunities for faster, more effective and more competitive development are doubled.”

The deal brings to an end Red Bull’s 12-year partnership with Renault.

Although relations became increasingly strained between the two parties in recent years, it was once a dream partnership as Red Bull and Renault won four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel from 2010-13.

During that glory era, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber won 47 grand prix. Since 2013, results have somewhat dried up and there have been only 10 race wins.

“We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit,” Horner said.

He was not always quite so complimentary about Renault. He has regularly and publicly criticized Renault’s reliability in recent years – although it has been hard to judge sometimes.

Red Bull showed good speed toward the end of last season when Max Verstappen won two races, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo won this season’s Chinese GP with a brilliant drive. The difference in speed between Red Bull and Mercedes appears less than before, although Ferrari remains noticeably quicker.

Verstappen’s form has picked up after a poor start to 2018, marred by crashes, and he has taken third place in two of the past three races.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s partnership with Renault has not been as successful as they anticipated after dropping Honda following three fruitless seasons together.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso has failed to finish the past two races and has yet to place higher than fifth. Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg has a best finish of fourth place.