GRC Lites’ class of 2015 look to stand out

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It’s not just the Red Bull Global Rallycross Supercars season that opens up this weekend at Fort Lauderdale.

It’s also first round of the GRC Lites campaign (race airs at 4:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday June 3, on NBCSN).

ENTRY LIST

This offers the next generation of stars a chance to showcase themselves on GRC weekends, and so far, it’s already produced graduates into Supercars.

Joni Wiman, the 2013 GRC Lites champion, moved up to Supercars last year and snatched the championship at the final round of the year.

The field this year of 10 cars for the race is split evenly, half and half between returnees and rookies.

One of North America’s more versatile up-and-coming drivers, 16-year-old Austin Cindric, should be a title contender this year, now as Wiman’s Olsbsergs MSE teammate and one of OMSE’s two GRC Lites drivers.

“Joining OMSE … it’s such a powerhouse team,” Cindric told MotorSportsTalk at the Red Bull GRC media day in Long Beach. “Working with Andreas (Eriksson) is quite an opportunity. It’s a significant point in my career.”

Cindric, along with both women drivers in the series in Colette Davis and Jackie Heinricher, have past open-wheel experience and are converting over to rally. Cindric also races a Ford Mustang Boss 302R for Multimatic Motorsports full-time in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS class.

“I don’t even think I could list everything I learned last year,” Cindric said. “It’s quite a steep learning curve, with the four-wheel drive car, the format, and racing on dirt.”

Davis, a former USF2000 driver who will drive the River Racing entry for Bryan Herta Rallysport, spoke of how late her deal came together for the season.

“I recently got my first taste of dirt at Dirtfish for three days earlier this year,” she told MST at media day. “It’s breaking old habits. I have to be patient to let new ones sink in. I think this year will be a lot about learning as much as I can. There’s a foundation I have deep down to push myself. There’s a lot of changes that I’ve had to learn in 30 days.”

Heinricher has a good story, having worked in the biotechnical field and serving as the founder and former president and CEO of Booshoot, before she caught the racing bug. She has some open-wheel experience and has also competed in Ferrari Challenge.

“The first time I took the car testing on slicks was an eye opener,” she told MST at media day. “It’s surprising how much grip you actually have on tires on dirt. It just adds an element to the racing that is an absolutely blast.”

Heinricher’s other big project? It’s anti-bullying, and she hopes to spread her message through her racing in GRC Lites.

“Kids today face so many challenging issues including bullying and self-esteem issues,” she said. “To have this message on my car will be a great thing to see.”

They are but three of the interesting drivers to watch in GRC Lites this season, although there will be plenty to watch.

IMSA results, points, stats package after Sunday at Road America

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Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor delivered Team Penske’s first victory this season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, winning at Road America from the pole position Sunday and moving up to sixth in points after finishing no better than seventh in the first three races this season.

The Team Penske No. 7 Acura DPi led a race-high 48  of 63 laps, including the final four after Castroneves seized a restart to take first from Renger van der Zande, who finished second with Ryan Briscoe in the No. 10 Cadillac DPi.

Other class winners at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, road course were the No. 81 ORECA LMP2 07 of Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley in LMP2, the No. 3 Corvette C8.R of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor in GTLM and the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 of Townsend Bell and Frankie Montecalvo in GTD.

RAIN-SOAKED RELIEF: Castroneves delivers Penske’s first win with late pass

Here are the race stats, points and results from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Road America:


RESULTS: Click here for the overall finishing order and here for the class breakdown.

POINTS: In the DPi standings, the No. 10 Cadillac of Briscoe and van der Zande leads by six points (124-118) over the No. 5 Cadillac of Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais.

The No. 3 Corvette of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor leads the GTLM standings with 130 points, 10 more than the No. 912 Porsche of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor.

In GTD, the No. 12 Lexus of Bell and Montecalvo moved into the lead by four points (121-117) over AIM Vasser Sullivan teammates Jack Hawksworth and Aaron Telitz in the No. 14 Lexus.

The No. 38 of Performance Tech Motorsport leads in LMP2.

Click here for the points standings for drivers and teams after Road America.

STATS PACKAGE FOR ROAD AMERICA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Leader sequence

Lap chart

Race analysis by lap

NEXT: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT classes will race Aug. 21-22 at Virginia International Raceway.