Red Bull GRC: 2016 Season Preview

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And so it begins: Red Bull Global Rallycross’ 2016 season is set to kick off this weekend, starting at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park outside of Phoenix, Ariz. (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Judging by the intense racing and deep competition that took place last year, there’s a lot to look forward to this year.

Here’s some of the elements to look forward to in 2016:


Last year, Scott Speed needed a miracle second half comeback to dig out of an early season hole and claim the 2015 championship for Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross. We’ve written about it a couple times.

Can he get out to a better start this year? Will another past Red Bull GRC champion Tanner Foust, who was the only other driver mathematically eligible to take the title heading into Las Vegas last year, reassert himself as the dominant force within the team?


Past Red Bull GRC champions Olsbergs MSE are going bold in 2016 with the new Honda Civic Coupes, which were unveiled at the New York Auto Show. The Andreas Eriksson-led team is renowned for its preparation and ability and with the newest cars in the series, should have them pretty well good to go.

The question, as ever, with new cars is reliability. Will the Hondas be fast but fragile? Or will they come out and stomp the field and reassert their domination at the pointy end of the grid?

No one knows for sure and while past series champion Joni Wiman and Sebastian Eriksson both won races in 2015, neither was a full-season title contender. A poor start may not bury them entirely but given the depth of field, they need to not get too far behind early if they want to win a title in the car’s debut year.


The SH Rallycross, Bryan Herta Rallysport and Chip Ganassi Racing teams all figure to battle among themselves for the top Ford squad.

SH Rallycross adds Jeff Ward to its lineup for the full season, replacing Nelson Piquet Jr. Piquet won once last year in the midst of a dual program between Red Bull GRC and the FIA Formula E Championship – and in the latter series, he won it. But Ward is an ace, he’s good on dirt, and he should be seriously fun to watch this year.

Herta’s Patrik Sandell was frequently fast but unlucky last year. He figures to be a title contender this year.

And in Ganassi’s second year in Red Bull GRC, you’d fully expect the team to secure its first final victory with either – or perhaps both of – Steve Arpin and Brian Deegan. Provided the team fixes its launch issues, look out.


The biggest departure from the Red Bull GRC grid in 2016 is Ken Block, who along with the Hoonigan Racing Division is racing in the FIA World Rallycross Championship this year rather than GRC.

Speed didn’t hold back when noting what Block’s absence might mean for GRC.

“It’ll definitely save everybody crash damage!” he laughed when chatting with NBC Sports.

“But obviously, that’s a huge name that brings a lot to the sport. Whether it’s a good or bad thing, I’m not sure yet.”


A big swap for 2016 is the change from Yokohama to BFGoodrich tires, which should come up to temperature quicker and lock in faster.

It’s an interesting dynamic because teams didn’t get a ton of testing time – or sets – with the new tires. But considering BFG’s near sterling reputation in off-road racing and with Michelin renowned in the sports car world, this will be a good thing to watch.

Additionally, IndyCar veteran Sebastian Saavedra is entered for his series debut in a BFGoodrich-branded Ford Fiesta ST.

We’ll have a separate post on the BFG arrival this weekend on MotorSportsTalk.


Out for 2016: Fort Lauderdale, Detroit, Barbados and Las Vegas. In for 2016: Phoenix, Dallas, Atlantic City and Seattle. Los Angeles also moves to the season finale; the X Games, which were a non-points race last year, are gone altogether.

The four doubleheader weekends are at Phoenix (Rounds 1 and 2) Daytona (4 and 5), The Base (6 and 7) and Los Angeles (11 and 12). That means both the first and last weekends of the year are doubleheaders, compared to single rounds (Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas) in 2015.

Which means they’re doubly important because you have two races to start – and finish – either super strong or super weak.

“They are the most important because it’s so easy to start a develop a snowball going in wrong direction,” Speed, the champion, told NBC Sports. “Mistake, failure… I love the fact some are singles and some are doubles. It adds an extra aspect to the season.”

Says Ward, “You can put yourself in trouble by not being aggressive. I’ve been in those positions my whole life. I feel good about starting the season with two.”

Adds Arpin, “I’ll be honest, it’ll be a little bit nerve-wracking with a double header going into the year. A bunch of great big egos. We’re all going out. The first time head-to-head is the first heat race! Single car practice and qualifying. So we start off with all these guys, and their egos are gonna outperform the car next to them.”

Arpin also made a salient point about the overall schedule, in wishing for less turnover as the years progress.

“Overall I think they’re doing the right thing with the schedule and prime markets. The one thing I’d like to see is repeatability. Let’s make it a home, build a presence, and really start to make an identity.

“From a sales standpoint we need some repeatability.”


Here’s a number of drivers’ thoughts to NBC Sports on the competition ahead in 2016:

Speed: “No question both the teams and drivers will be stronger. It’s the natural evolution of rallycross. But you’ll have to see who’s done best homework in offseason. And who’s the car to beat. Not even in practice, but you’ll know in qualifying.”

Ward: “The series is really coming together. It’s bringing the names in of different drivers from different disciplines and it really fits this type of thing. It’s short, quick, with lots of excitement and action happening all the time. You get to see a lot of races and action… like Supercross in a way. It’s not one long drawn out race. There’s many winners during the day. It’s real intriguing to me. One of the best forms to me.”

Arpin: “I think it’s huge. Obviously at this level, you look at Scott Speed and Tanner Foust, Saavedra will be in it too, Jeff Ward will be fast. It’s gonna be hard to win races. I’d throw myself and Deegan in the mix too. You have to make it through the first corner strong, then set sail from there.”


The GRC Lites division has a good mix of rookies and veterans in the field this year.

Defending series champion Oliver Eriksson leads the list of those making a comeback in 2016; others include Conner Martell, Alex Keyes, Tanner Whitten, Collete Davis and Harry Cheung.

As ever, the GRC Lites division provides a great launching point for young drivers in their first year in rally. Most of the field runs from the mid-teens to early 20s in age, with a handful of exceptions. Cabot Bigham (DRR), Parker Chase and the OMSE X Forces pair of Miki Weckstrom and Cole Keatts could be ones to watch in their first seasons.


2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross Schedule (TV times in parentheses)

Round Date Location  
1 May 21 Phoenix, AZ (I)
2 May 22 Phoenix, AZ (II) (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN – both)
3 June 4 Dallas, TX (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
4 June 18 Daytona Beach, FL (I)
5 June 19 Daytona Beach, FL (II) (3 p.m. ET, NBC – both)
6 July 2 The Base (I) (5 p.m. ET, NBC)
7 July 3 The Base (II) (5 p.m. ET, NBC)
8 July 30 Washington, DC (2 p.m. ET, NBC)
9 August 28 Atlantic City, NJ (3 p.m. ET, NBC)
10 September 17 Seattle, WA (1:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
11 October 8 Los Angeles, CA (I)
12 October 9 Los Angeles, CA (II) (3 p.m. ET, NBC – both)

Red Bull Global Rallycross Entry Lists


00 Steve Arpin/Fort Frances, Ontario/Loenbro Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Fiesta ST
07 Jeff Ward/Glasgow, Scotland/SH Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST
11 Sverre Isachsen/Hokksund, Norway/Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
14 Austin Dyne/Los Angeles/AD Racing Ford Fiesta ST
18 Patrik Sandell/Ostersund, Sweden/Bryan Herta Rallysport Ford Fiesta ST
31 Joni Wiman/Pohja, Sweden/Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic
34 Tanner Foust/Denver/Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle
38 Brian Deegan/Omaha, NE/NOS Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Fiesta ST
41 Scott Speed/Mt. Holly, NC/Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle
77 Sebastian Saavedra/Bogota, Colombia/BFGoodrich Ford Fiesta ST
81 Bucky Lasek/Dundalk, MD/Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
93 Sebastian Eriksson/Hagfors, Sweden/Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic

GRC Lites

07 Collete Davis/ San Francisco, CA/Rhys Millen Racing
2 Cabot Bigham/Mill Valley, CA/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
3 Travis Pecoy/Yorba Linda, CA/AF Racing
16 Oliver Eriksson/Osmo, Sweden/Olsbergs MSE X Forces
19 Parker Chase/New Braunfels, TX/Chase Rallysport/PMG
21 Conner Martell/Colchester, VT/DirtFish Motorsports
24 Alex Keyes/Folsom, CA/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
24 Tanner Whitten/Rochester, IL/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
44 Christian Brooks/Santa Clarita, CA/AF Racing
45 Miki Weckstrom/Espoo, Finland/Olsbergs MSE X Forces
53 Cole Keatts/Lewiston, ID/Olsbergs MSE X Forces
69 Harry Gottsacker/New Braunfels, TX/Performance Motorsports Group
88 Harry Cheung/San Francisco, CA/Rhys Millen Racing
126 Alejandro Fernandez/Bogota, Colombia/AF Racing

Entry lists are subject to change.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Motocross season opener: Jett Lawrence rockets to the top

SuperMotocross Rankings season opener
Align Media

As the SuperMotocross season heads outdoors, the NBC Power Rankings change significantly with results from the Motocross opener at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. The Power Rankings assign a numeric value to each individual moto (90 points maximum) as well as the overall standings (100 points) and averages that number over the past 45 days. Included in the Power Rankings are results from the final five Supercross rounds, which fit into that 45-day timeframe.

Dylan Ferrandis finished on the podium in his first race back after experience a concussion in Supercross Round 4 at Houston. – Align Media

It didn’t take long for Jett Lawrence to rocket to the top of the SuperMotocross rankings – only about 74 minutes in fact. Lawrence dominated his first moto and beat his teammate Chase Sexton, the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross champion, to the line by 10 seconds. He had to fight a little harder for the second moto win as Sexton stalked him throughout the race and ended up less than a second behind.

Beginning this week, we have added the SuperMotocross points’ ranking beside the rider’s name and in one fell swoop, Lawrence went from being unranked in the 450 class to 26th. To qualify for the inaugural SuperMotocross’ guaranteed 20 positions that automatically make the gate for the three-race championship series, Lawrence needs to be inside the top 20 in combined Supercross and Motocross points. The bubble is currently held by Justin Starling and Lawrence needs to make up 44 points to overtake him.

Sexton’s second-place finish in the overall standings at Fox Raceway marked his ninth consecutive top-five finish. After the race, Sexton compared the battle he had with Lawrence to the one he experienced with Eli Tomac in last year’s Pro Motocross championship. These two riders had a significant advantage over the field in Pala, but there is still a lot of racing to be completed.

MORE: Jett Lawrence wastes no time, wins first 450 race

After missing 13 rounds to a concussion, Dylan Ferrandis told NBC Sports that he was not going to do anything risky in the season opener at Fox Raceway. If he dialed back his effort at all, one would be hard-pressed to notice. He finished third in both motos and was third in the overall standings. Ferrandis began the weekend just outside the top 20 in combined SuperMotocross points and climbed to 19th. In the next few weeks, he will get a little more breathing room over the cutline and then challenge for wins.

Adam Cianciarulo’s three-race streak of top-five finishes ended with a sixth-place overall at Fox Raceway, but that was enough to advance him one position in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings and land him eighth in the combined points standings. His individual motos were moderate, but Cianciarulo is still battling the effects of injury and a nagging loss of strength in his wrist.

Aaron Plessinger returned from injury in the Supercross season finale to finish second at Salt Lake City. He added another top-five to his season total and now has six of those in the 13 rounds he’s made. With Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac not currently racing in Motocross, Plessinger has an opportunity to rise to the third seeding in short order.

450 Rankings

Driver (SMX rank) Power
1. Jett Lawrence (26) 93.33 NA
2. Chase Sexton (1) 92.36 1 -1
3. Dylan Ferrandis (19) 89.00 NA
4. Adam Cianciarulo (8) 82.89 5 1
5. Aaron Plessinger (5) 81.20 9 4
6. Justin Hill (9)
Not racing MX
79.75 8 2
7. Ken Roczen (4)
injured | Not racing MX
79.13 3 -4
8. Jose Butron (30) 75.67 NA
9. Lorenzo Locurcio (29) 75.00 NA
10. Eli Tomac (2)
74.50 2 -8
11. Dean Wilson (10)
Not racing MX
72.88 7 -4
12. Cooper Webb (3) 71.17 6 -6
13. Jerry Robin (32) 70.33 NA
14. Justin Barcia (6)
70.00 4 -10
15. Kyle Chisholm (15) 65.36 11 -4
16. Dante Oliveira (36) 65.00 NA
17. Shane McElrath (11)
Not racing MX
63.63 12 -5
18. Ryan Surratt (38) 63.33 NA
19. Josh Hill (13)
Not racing MX
62.38 13 -6
20. Justin Starling (20)
Not racing MX
62.13 19 -1

Motocross 450 Points

A bad start to Moto 1 at Fox Raceway was not enough to deter Hunter Lawrence. Neither was the fact that he was riding with sore ribs after experiencing a practice crash earlier in the week. He was a distant 10th to start the first race and for most of the 30 minutes, it seemed he would finish off the podium. Lawrence did not win the 250 East Supercross championship by giving in to hopelessness or pain, however.

Lawrence picked off one rider and then another until he found the battle for the top five in front of him at the halfway point. Once the field started to lap riders, Lawrence used the opportunity to continue forward through the grid. He passed third-place Jo Shimoda with two laps remaining and challenged Maximus Vohland for second on the final trip around Fox Raceway, but had to settle for the final spot on the podium. Lawrence dominated Moto 2 and claimed the overall victory in Pala.

Justin Cooper made his first start of the season at Fox Raceway and earned enough NBC Power Average points to climb to second. Partly this was due to consistently strong runs in both motos and a 5-4 that gave him the fifth position overall, but he is also not weighed down with moderate Supercross results. It will take a week or two to see where his strength lands him on the grid.

Motocross 250 Points

In only his third Pro Motocross National, Haiden Deegan scored a second-place finish in the overall standings. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire may feel he has something to prove after finishing second to Jett Lawrence in the 250 SX West division. He certainly rode like that was the case in Moto 1 and easily outpaced the field on his way to victory lane. In Moto 2, he crashed twice on Lap 1 and dropped back to 39th. It took half of the race to get inside the top 20 and salvage points. By the end of the race, he was 11th and while that was enough to get him on the overall podium, it cost him points in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

Haiden Deegan surprised the field in Houston in his 250 Supercross debut by finishing fifth. At the time, he said his strong result was because there were no expectations. He echoed that statement after the Motocross season opener. His second-place finish in the overall standings was enough to project him five positions up the SuperMotocross Rankings. In 11 rounds in the combined series, Deegan has earned seven top-fives and a worst finish of eighth.

Jo Shimoda did not make his first Supercross race of 2023 until late in the season. He finished fourth on the hybrid track of Atlanta, which had some similar elements to Fox Raceway. His fourth-place finish in Moto 1 of the Motocross opener made it seem likely he would score an overall podium, but a sixth in the second race cost him points in the NBC Power Rankings in a field that promises to be extremely tight.

250 Rankings

Driver (SMX rank) Power
1. Hunter Lawrence (1) 89.56 2 1
2. Justin Cooper (42) 84.67 NA
3. RJ Hampshire (3) 83.67 3 0
3. Haiden Deegan (4) 83.67 8 5
5. Jo Shimoda (16) 82.33 7 2
6. Guillem Farres (46) 79.33 NA
7. Levi Kitchen (6) 79.11 5 -2
8. Max Anstie (5) 77.83 12 4
9. Max Vohland (8) 77.50 14 5
10. Enzo Lopes (10) 76.00 11 1
11. Mitchell Oldenburg (13) 74.25 16 5
12. Carson Mumford (19) 71.22 17 5
13. Jordon Smith (7) 70.56 9 -4
14. Ryder DiFrancesco (48) 70.33 NA
15. Chris Blose (12) 67.00 13 -2
16. Chance Hymas (27) 66.00 19 3
17. Tom Vialle (9) 65.78 18 1
18. Jett Reynolds (55) 63.33 NA
19. Michael Mosiman (28) 62.33 20 1
20. Garrett Marchbanks (64) 59.00 NA

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner in Supercross and overall winner in Motocross. It awards 90 points for each Moto, Heat and Triple Crown win. The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 13 AT ATLANTA: Justin Barcia leapfrogs the Big 3
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 11 AT SEATTLE: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 10 AT DETROIT: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Webb
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 8 AT DAYTONA: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Eli Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 5 AT TAMPA: Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb close in
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Eli Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Ken Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage