Preview: Red Bull GRC does the double in Detroit

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The Red Bull Global Rallycross season resumes this weekend in Detroit. Courtesy of the series’ PR staff, here’s the weekend preview ahead of Rounds 5 and 6:

IN BRIEF: Rounds five and six, the halfway point of the 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross season, will see the sport tackle Belle Isle for its inaugural visit to Detroit. Points leader Ken Block enters the event with a 31-point advantage over Sebastian Eriksson, while Fords hold the top five championship spots coming into the weekend.

TUNE IN INFORMATION:

Saturday, July 25, 2PM ET on NBC and liveextra.nbcsports.com

Saturday, July 26, 4:30PM ET on NBC and liveextra.nbcsports.com

NBC Sports Group will be offering live streaming of the Global Rallycross Detroit race through the NBC Sports Live Extra app via desktop, mobile and tablet.

TICKETS: Click here

EVENT SPOTTER GUIDE: Click here

2015 SPECTATOR GUIDE: Click here

LAST RACE: Ken Block took advantage of a red flag situation in the main event to grab his second win of the year at MCAS New River. Patrik Sandell, who led handily before the red flag, took his first podium of the season for Bryan Herta Rallysport after a last-lap dive into the Kobalt Tools Joker Lap, while SH Racing Rallycross driver Nelson Piquet Jr. completed the podium.

DRIVER CHANGES: All 12 Supercar drivers who competed at MCAS New River will be returning to the track in Detroit. No additional drivers will be running this weekend.

THE TRACK: The Belle Isle course features 10 turns and .757 miles of track. Featuring one of the most pronounced Kobalt Tools Joker Laps of the season, as cars split around the James Scott Memorial Fountain, the track should offer numerous passing opportunities and fast, wide-open stretches. Click here for more information on the track.

BLOCK REGAINS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD: Another race victory, combined with misfortune for key championship rival Sebastian Eriksson, allowed Ken Block to regain the Red Bull GRC championship lead that he initially claimed in Fort Lauderdale. Block’s fifth career Supercar victory puts him at 181 points for the season; last year, championship leader Nelson Piquet Jr. had 184 points through the season’s first four races.

SUBARU COMING OFF BEST WEEKEND OF SEASON: For the second time in four races, Subaru Rally Team USA put both Sverre Isachsen and Bucky Lasek in the main event at MCAS New River, with Lasek’s LCQ victory the team’s first session win of the season. Both drivers scored season-best finishes; Isachsen came home sixth, while Lasek, who briefly ran in podium contention, placed seventh at race’s end.

VOLKSWAGEN LOOKING TO REBOUND: Owing to mechanical issues, neither Tanner Foust nor Scott Speed was able to make the main event at MCAS New River, marking the first time in Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross history that both cars missed the main event. Speed finished second in the Fort Lauderdale season opener and won gold at X Games Austin, but since then has not finished better than ninth. Foust’s last-place finish at New River was his first finish outside of the top five all season.

QUOTES: A selection of quotes in advance of this weekend’s Red Bull Global Rallycross Detroit:

Tanner Foust, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle: “A doubleheader through a rat maze of concrete involves staying off the concrete—I think that’s the obvious thing. When you cruise around the track, you realize that it’s going to have really difficult visibility. Not only do you have some big cars right in front of you, but you also have walls that are higher than your eye level. But it’s kind of a bumpy surface, there’s rain expected, and so just the slightest little slip off of line would be a catastrophe I think, and it could be a big crash. The jump not having any sides on it, it’s going to be important not to go from 15 feet straight to grass. So for sure, there’s a lot to be careful of, but it’s a fast track and a lot of the corners you really can attack.”

Sverre Isachsen, #11 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI: “Definitely this a venue for horsepower. For the moment, we’re trying to make more horsepower every race. We will fight with what we have, we’ll push really hard again for this race. You need to try to use your head, of course, but you have other drivers also, so you’re not alone in deciding what you can do in the corner because there are other guys. If they push me, I’ll definitely push back.”

Austin Dyne, #14 Bryan Herta Rallysport Ford Fiesta ST: “These kinds of tracks have a lot of character. Certain parts of the track have a lot of concrete, and there are a lot of parts with a lot of really bumpy asphalt which makes it cool. When it’s all flat and perfect it looks kind of boring. This track definitely has a lot of character and there are a lot of fast, kind of sketchy fast corners which makes it really exciting. It should be cool on TV for the fans, and with some really tight stuff it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.”

Latest INDYCAR Aeroscreen test continues to provide feedback; data to series

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
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RICHMOND, Virginia – After completing its third Aeroscreen test since October 2, INDYCAR continues to collect valuable data and feedback from the drivers and engineers involved in testing.

The latest test of the Aeroscreen came Tuesday, October 15 at Richmond Raceway, a .750-mile short oval. Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has been involved in testing dating all the way back to 2017 at Phoenix with the original “Windscreen.” Tuesday’s test was the first-time two-time NTT IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was able to test the device that partially encloses the cockpit proving greatly enhanced driver safety.

It was also the first time the current “Aeroscreen” designed and created by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, Pankl and Dallara has been tested at a short oval – a track that measures under 1.5-miles in length.

The previous tests were at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 2 and the Barber Motorsports Park road course on October 7.

“It wasn’t a problem getting in the car today and relearning a new viewpoint,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com at the conclusion of Tuesday’s test. “It felt like a new viewpoint. It’s still an Indy car. It still feels like an Indy car. The car does a lot of the things it did before. It required some slight tuning differences to accommodate a different center of gravity and different total weight.

“Overall, it still felt like the same Indy car I drove three weeks ago. You get used to that new viewpoint within 30 or 40 laps. It was alien at first but halfway through the day it feels like home again.”

Newgarden’s Team Penske test team along with INDYCAR officials worked on changes to getting air into the cockpit and directing the air to the right place where the driver can utilize it.

“We’ve come up with some solutions that we like,” Newgarden said. “INDYCAR and the teams will continue to fine-tune this. That is why we are doing these tests. The main goal was to figure this out and fine-tune this stuff. We have come up with a lot of good solutions to all of the little things we have talked about that we have needed so when Sebastien Bourdais goes to Sebring (on November 5), it will just be another version.

“We are already close. Because they are such small details, it feels like normal racing stuff and we will come up with solutions for that.”

Some drivers who have participated in the Aeroscreen test has said, they almost feel naked without having the halo-like structure with a clear windshield protecting them on the race car.

“Once we got through a whole IndyCar season, if you took it off, it would feel really strange,” Newgarden said. “People adapt so quickly to a change, what the car looks like. Once you give us a couple of races and a full year, it will feel like home and something we are very used to as drivers.

“It is already starting to get that way. People are feeling more comfortable with it. The field of view is almost identical to the way it was before. Your peripheral vision is identical, the way you look out the front of the cars is identical, the way you see the tires is identical.”

Individual driver preference will allow for shading of the sun and that can be accomplished with the visor strips on the helmet and the tear-offs on Aeroscreen.

Drivers will also have a bit of a quieter atmosphere inside the cockpit. The partial enclosure makes it easier to hear his radio communication and the sounds of the engine in the driver’s car. It partially blocks out the sounds of the engines in the other cars and the rush of wind traveling at high speeds that used to buffet in and around the helmet.

“It has changed the noise level slightly inside the cockpit,” Newgarden said. “For me, it wasn’t super dramatic. It’s a slight reduction in wind noise. You’re not getting the wind directly over your head as dramatically as you would before. All that external noise has just been dimmed.

“You can hear the radio a touch better, things like that. But the engine noise is still quite prominent. It’s bolted directly behind us, so you still hear quite a bit of what’s going on in the car and the engine.”

Dixon was in the car at Indianapolis on October 2 and returned on Tuesday. The Barber test on October 7 included this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, in a Team Penske Chevrolet and Ryan Hunter-Reay in an Andretti Autosport Honda.

“The only differences are the openings on the front wing that creates some more airflow around the legs and body and a different inlet in the screen that was in place today,” Dixon told NBC Sports.com. “There were helmet cooling options since the Barber test because on the road course, some of the drivers were getting a little hotter.

“This project has been very in-depth. It hit the ground running very smoothly. There are some alternate options they are trying to create, especially on the street courses where we will experience hot condition. On street conditions, your depth perception changes because of how close you are to the walls, but we should get used to that.”

Two weeks ago, Team Penske driver Will Power said it takes a different style to get out of the race car because of the added height of the Aeroscreen.

That hasn’t been a problem for Dixon.

“That’s easy, man,” he said. “Just go through the hole in the top.”