Defending Red Bull GRC champion Joni Wiman adjusts to “target on his back”


So what can defending Red Bull Global Rallycross champion Joni Wiman expect for his second year in the championship?

An understanding of the words “target on his back,” to start.

“Yes, you can say I have a target on my back,” the Olsbergs MSE driver told MotorSportsTalk at Red Bull GRC media day in Long Beach.

“But everyone will take me more seriously this year at the start of the season.”

Indeed Wiman needed to get his feet wet when he first entered the series.

MORE from MST: Wiman discusses run to 2014 title; what’s next in 2015

He only began the year with one podium from the first six races, but ended on a tear with four in a row to end the season.

Heading into Sunday’s season opener at Ft. Lauderdale (LIVE, 3 p.m. ET, NBC), the team has concluded testing for the preseason at Charlotte Motor Speedway this week. Wiman looks forward to seeing how the 2015 package for OMSE and the Red Bull/Bluebeam Ford Fiesta handles.

“Of course it is a lot easier to have more experience about the car,” he said. “We have kind of a new car. Updated engine. So we should be even more competitive this year than last year.”

This year will be Wiman’s third racing in North America. He won the GRC Lites title in 2013 before being promoted up to GRC Supercars last year, where he doubled up on the championship.

While he enjoys rally courses in his native Finland, he is still comfortable racing in the U.S. and has acclimatized well.

“It’s so much different than in Europe, or Scandinavia,” he said. “This will be my third year. It’s so much easier to get around here. From the airport to customs, we don’t have that over there. Now it is just like going to Sweden, my neighboring country.”

Wiman will have a rookie teammate this year in the form of a driver from his neighboring country, in Sebastian Eriksson. Eriksson will look to emulate Wiman as a rookie GRC champion.

Austin Cindric and Oliver Eriksson will be in OMSE’s two GRC Lites cars.

Meanwhile Wiman knows repeating will be difficult given the depth of field, and is unsure how 2015 will play out.

“Of course it is exciting and it is a new thing, I have never won a (main) championship, so I don’t know what to expect.

“But I think it’s awesome that big names and teams are starting to find the sport. That’s what all of us want, to build it up.”

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”