Red Bull GRC: Seattle return to play pivotal role in title fights

Sandell (18) and Arpin (00). Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull Global Rallycross hits the Pacific Northwest for its second-to-last weekend of 2016, with a trip to Evergreen Speedway in Seattle (runs 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 17, airs at 10:30 a.m. PT/1:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 18 on NBC).

The Seattle track is the closest on Red Bull GRC’s schedule to an oval, with a big sweeping left-hander off the line to kick off the 0.791-mile, eight-turn circuit. Evergreen’s track is a bit different from DirtFish, which hosted the series in 2014.

Up front, Scott Speed looks to keep the momentum rolling that he’s achieved the last three races, which have propelled the defending Supercars champion into position to repeat.

Some roller coaster final round results left Speed playing catch-up to Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross teammate Tanner Foust in the opening five of 11 races.

But starting with a last-lap, last-turn pass of Brian Deegan at the lone MCAS New River race, the driver of the No. 41 Volkswagen Beetle GRC took his first win of the year.

He’s followed up with wins in Washington, D.C. and Atlantic City, N.J., the latter coming at Foust’s expense after Foust sustained a late-race puncture.

Foust sits second in points, nine back of Speed (409-400), and will look to recapture the early season form he had the first five races. He won three of the first five events in his No. 34 Rockstar Energy Beetle but only has one podium (third in Washington) in the last three races.

The pair of Chip Ganassi Rallycross entries – Deegan in his No. 38 NOS Energy Drink Ford Fiesta ST and Steve Arpin in his No. 00 ENEOS Ford – look to supplant the Andretti VWs. Arpin and fellow Ford driver Patrik Sandell (No. 18 Cuttwood Ford for Bryan Herta Rallysport) are the only non-Volkswagen winners in eight races, with one win apiece.

Arpin, Sandell and Deegan sit third, fourth and fifth in the points, at 357, 352 and 345 points.

Another question heading into Seattle is whether the Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE entries will take their first win. Sebastian Eriksson and Joni Wiman have improved their form as the season’s gone on in the Nos. 93 and 31 Honda Civic Coupes, but are yet to break through in a final.

Nelson Piquet Jr. returns for his third and last scheduled start in the No. 07 WIX Filters Ford for SH Rallycross/DRR, with Austin Dyne (No. 14 AD Ford) and the Subarus leading the rest of those in the Supercars field.

In GRC Lites, Cabot Bigham (No. 2 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) leads the standings over 2015 class champion Oliver Eriksson (No. 16 Olsbergs MSE X Forces) and Miki Weckstrom (No. 45 Olsbergs MSE X Forces) with two weekends remaining. Bigham’s lead is 20 points, 344 to 324, with Weckstrom at 306. Conner Martell of DirtFish Motorsports sits fourth on 267 points with all others more than 100 points back of Bigham.

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.”