Red Bull GRC: Isachsen reigns in Seattle; Wiman becomes new championship leader

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For the second time in as many weekends, the Red Bull Global Rallycross championship took a drastic turn.

Sverre Isachsen brought home the first-ever GRC victory for Subaru Rally Team USA in yesterday’s Round 9 at DirtFish Rally School outside Seattle.

But by virtue of his own second-place finish behind the Norwegian, Joni Wiman moved into the championship lead going into the Nov. 5 season finale in Las Vegas (NBC will air the race on Nov. 16 at 1:30 p.m. ET).

Ken Block entered Seattle with an 18-point lead over Wiman, but the King of the Hoonigans hit a barrier in the first turn and subsequently finished a disappointing ninth.

Wiman settled into fourth position by halfway, but was then able to move into podium position and peeled second off of Brian Deegan late. With his third consecutive podium run, the Finn is now threatening to win the GRC’s “SuperCar” championship one year after claiming the Lites title.

“I didn’t think I would do well at the dirt track,” Wiman told RedBull.com. “Looking forward to Vegas as the track actually suits us better. It’s all about Vegas now.”

As for Block, he pointed the finger of blame at himself for his trouble in the final.

“Looking straight into the sun, I just missed the braking point,” he said. “I went wide while turning into the joker, and bounced into the wall.”

Meanwhile, Isachsen was thrilled to give the Subaru camp its historic first win in GRC competition.

“It is really important for the team,” Isachsen said to the GRC website. “We never gave up on developing this car—it takes time. You do something wrong, but then you do something right, and then of course today we had a fast car.

“It’s huge for everybody, all the Subaru guys.”

Things had looked set for a clash in the final between Wiman and Block after both of them won their respective semifinal heats. In Semifinal One, Block led Nelson Piquet Jr. and Deegan across the stripe, while Wiman took Semifinal Two over Isachsen and Patrik Sandell.

That set up the Last Chance Qualifier, which featured both Scott Speed and Rhys Millen, the two race winners from last weekend’s doubleheader in Los Angeles.

Speed’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, Tanner Foust, was able to race into the lead early and eventually got the LCQ checkered flag with David Higgins, Millen, and Speed joining him in the final.

The GRC Lites class also crowned its champion this weekend at DirtFish, as Olsbergs MSE’s Mitchell DeJong locked up the title simply by starting the event.

But DeJong was not content to take it easy. The American went on to earn his sixth Lites win of 2014 over Austin Cindric and Alejandro Fernandez after going fastest in qualifying and winning both of his preliminary heats.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”