Red Bull GRC: 2015 Midseason Review

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The Red Bull Global Rallycross season heads into the second half of the season starting with this weekend in Washington, D.C.

Just as in the first half, there will be four weekends with six races apiece – including two doubleheaders.

Here’s a quick recap of the first half:

Top driver: Ken Block, Hoonigan Racing Division

Block has come out firing in his No. 43 Monster Energy Ford Fiesta ST after coming up just shy of the 2014 title. He’s already eclipsed his final round win total, three (Ft. Lauderdale, MCAS New River, Detroit race one) to two, in just six races. And he was poised for another top-three result in Detroit race two before Block was, in his estimation, unfairly penalized by race officials after first-lap contact in a domino-effect type of wreck. Other than contact in Daytona race one, Block has been the driver to beat in a field now almost fully occupied by Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar race-winning teams.

Surprise driver: Sebastian Eriksson, Olsbergs MSE

Eriksson is delivering a season reminiscent of his teammate, Joni Wiman, last year through the opening six races. Eriksson was a late arrival to the team – named after Mitchell DeJong’s plans fell through – however he’s been entirely consistent thus far. The young Swede pushed Wiman in GRC Lites in 2013, and thus far exceeded him in the opening half of 2015 with one final round win and four podiums in six races. He also captured the Bronze medal at X Games in Austin. Eriksson, 26 points behind points leader Block, has the best chance to unseat him as the year progresses.

Mr. Consistency: Austin Dyne, Bryan Herta Rallysport

The son of series head Colin Dyne, young Austin’s made several strides in this season of Red Bull GRC, now driving with Bryan Herta Rallysport. Dyne is yet to win a final but he’s also not had a single bad final either. Results between second and seventh in each of the six starts, without missing a final and being knocked out in the LCQ, has him third in the standings, and poised to win at least once later in 2015.

Other notes

  • Tanner Foust and Scott Speed of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross have a win apiece this year – Foust in Daytona and Speed a Gold Medal at the non-points X Games – but through various mechanical issues they’ve struggled for consistency. Speed posted back-to-back runner-up finishes in Detroit so that provides him a boost heading into the second half of the year.
  • SH Rallycross driver Nelson Piquet Jr.’s GRC season hasn’t gone as well as his FIA Formula E season, where he won the title. Two third place results are his best finish.
  • Bryan Herta Rallysport’s Patrik Sandell broke a yearlong string of bad luck in Detroit race two to get on the board. He’s been a threat all year but unable to piece it all together in most races.
  • Chip Ganassi Racing’s program has been exciting to watch for most of the year as it remains in search of its first GRC win. Steve Arpin and Jeff Ward, teammates, dueled at Daytona with Arpin scoring his first regular season podium there. Brian Deegan posted two top-fives in Detroit but is yet to podium.
  • OMSE driver Wiman, the defending champion, still ranks fourth in the points but continues to struggle for overall pace. Strangely, he’s still never won a GRC final.
  • Subaru Rally Team USA has endured a tough season to date with Sverre Isachsen and Bucky Lasek having only made five of a possible 12 final round appearances, and not having yet scored a single top-five finish.

GRC Lites

It’s been a mixed bag of winners and a tight points battle in the GRC Supercars feeder championship, GRC Lites.

In six races, only Austin Cindric has won twice, with Oliver Eriksson, Alex Keyes, Tanner Whitten and Miles Maroney having also scored a win this season. Keyes is the only one of those five who has struggled from a consistency standpoint.

So championship-wise, it’s a five-way fight heading into the second half of the season.

Cindric leads Alejandro Fernandez, who is yet to win, by four points, with Maroney, Whitten and Eriksson also within striking range.

GRC Supercars Points

43-Ken Block, 260
93-Sebastian Eriksson, 234
14-Austin Dyne, 195
31-Joni Wiman, 185
41-Scott Speed, 180
07-Nelson Piquet Jr., 178
00-Steve Arpin, 161
18-Patrik Sandell, 157
34-Tanner Foust, 139
11-Sverre Isachsen, 76

GRC Lites Points

77-Austin Cindric, 247
126-Alejandro Fernandez, 243
24-Miles Maroney, 242
15-Tanner Whitten, 231
16-Oliver Eriksson, 216
61-Alex Keyes, 131
42-Nur Ali, 121
88-Harry Cheung, 98
07-Collete Davis, 82
6-Geoff Sykes, 62

Remaining TV Schedule

  • Washington, D.C., Aug. 15, 3 p.m. ET, NBC (LIVE); GRC Lites, Aug. 19, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
  • Los Angeles I, Sept. 13, 4 p.m. ET, NBC (LIVE); GRC Lites, Sept. 16, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN
  • Los Angeles II, Sept. 13, 4 p.m. ET, NBC (LIVE); GRC Lites, Sept. 16, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN
  • Barbados I, Oct. 4, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC (LIVE); GRC Lites, Oct. 7, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN
  • Barbados II, Oct. 4, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC (LIVE); GRC Lites, Oct. 7, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN
  • Las Vegas (race Nov. 4), Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN (TD); GRC Lites, Nov. 11, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.