Red Bull GRC: Layout, entry list set for L.A. doubleheader

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A big weekend awaits in La-La-Land for Red Bull Global Rallycross.

In addition to the return of action sports icon (and former NASCAR racer) Travis Pastrana to GRC competition, the series will stage a pair of full-points races on Saturday and Sunday at the Port of Los Angeles. If you recall, the series added a second round in the City of Angels after its Detroit event, originally set for Aug. 2-3, couldn’t come off.

A nine-turn, .586-mile circuit will be the battleground this weekend. Drivers won’t encounter dirt until they hit the right-hand Turn 6, which will also mark the start of the joker.

The dirt jump will be positioned between Turn 6 and 7, but the joker is perhaps the signature feature of this course, as it wraps around the final three corners – making it the longest joker of the 2014 GRC season.

After finishing eighth in last weekend’s inaugural Formula E race in Beijing, Nelson Piquet Jr. is back in his familiar Ford Fiesta this week and holding a 40-point lead over Ken Block in the championship.

Block has been on a tear as of late with three consecutive podium finishes (which includes a Round 5 win at Charlotte), the longest active streak in GRC.

In the last race at Daytona, Block was runner-up behind Rhys Millen, who bagged his first series victory for himself and for Hyundai. However, Millen was penalized 50 championship points and fined $5,000 after his No. 67 Hyundai Veloster was found equipped with speed sensors in post-race inspection. The sensors were deemed as not having given the car a performance advantage.

Both GRC finals from Los Angeles will air LIVE Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m. ET on NBC-TV and NBC Sports Live Extra.

SUPERCARS ENTRY LIST – RED BULL GRC AT LOS ANGELES
00-Steve Arpin, Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada, Royal Purple Racing/OMSE2 Ford
07-Nelson Piquet Jr., Brasilia, Brazil, SH Racing Rallycross Ford
11-Sverre Isachsen, Hokksund, Norway, Subaru Rally Team USA
14-Austin Dyne, Los Angeles, Barracuda Racing Ford
18-Patrik Sandell, Ostersund, Sweden, Olsbergs MSE Ford
27-Emma Gilmour, Dunedin, New Zealand, Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing
31-Joni Wiman, Pohja, Finland, Olsbergs MSE Ford
34-Tanner Foust, Dana Point, CA, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross
43-Ken Block, Park City, UT, Hoonigan Racing Division Ford
67-Rhys Millen, Huntington Beach, CA, Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing
77-Scott Speed, Mt. Holly, NC, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross
81-Bucky Lasek, Dundalk, MD, Subaru Rally Team USA
199-Travis Pastrana, Annapolis, MD, Subaru Rally Team USA

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.