Red Bull GRC: Saturday at New River before Supercars, Lites finals

Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – Part of the joy and challenge in Red Bull Global Rallycross races is that there is simply so much action over the course of the day to keep up with, and trying to recap it all isn’t easy.

Here’s an attempt to do so thus far, as we get into the Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQs):

The track changed slightly this morning, with the chicane before the jump opened up a bit. Steve Arpin of Chip Ganassi Rallycross explained that you can enter the corner one gear higher than previously.

The Chip Ganassi Rallycross team had quite a whale of a time to even get Arpin’s No. 00 Jacob Companies Ford Fiesta ST back going on Saturday, as his engine broke on Friday. The crew performed repairs until 2 a.m. to install the new engine on Arpin’s car. Arpin repaid them with a semifinal race win later in the day.

Tough day thus far for Patrik Sandell in the No. 18 Kobalt Tools Ford Fiesta ST for Bryan Herta Rallysport. An accident in one of his heat races took the car behind the wall and missed its semifinal; the team was scrambling to fix the car ahead of the LCQ. If Sandell’s team doesn’t make it, he’d miss the final.

Sandell was still being awesome and signing autographs, though:

Colton Herta is here, as is dad Bryan this weekend. Bryan Herta missed the Phoenix and Dallas weekends because of IndyCar commitments. The younger version of “Hertamania” – the 16-year-old Colton – balances his time between California and London.

Scott Speed’s Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team needed to perform another engine change this morning. It’s perhaps unfortunate to have to say the VARX team is getting good at it – this is the team’s third engine change in the last two race weekends. Speed is in the No. 41 Special Operations Warrior Foundation Beetle.

A couple contact moments occurred between Jeff Ward of SH Rallycross/DRR and Brian Deegan in a heat race, although Deegan, in the No. 38 NOS Energy Drink Ford Fiesta ST did well in his semifinal to make a late race pass of Joni Wiman’s No. 31 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic Coupe for second.

Honda has its first heat race win, in Heat 2A, courtesy of Sebastian Eriksson in the No. 93 Honda.

The crowd is off the hook. And this is only a Saturday, before the event opens to the public fully on Sunday.

Cabot Bigham of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing took his No. 2 entry to his first GRC Lites heat race win earlier today.

More to come after the LCQs and the finals later today.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”