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).

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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.