Red Bull GRC: Saturday heat races, pre-race notebook

Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool
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LOS ANGELES – Once again, there are lots to get through before the semifinals and finals start today at Red Bull Global Rallycross’ season finale weekend, Red Bull GRC Los Angeles presented by Honda.

Here’s a recap of a number of nuggets around the paddock:

Heat race winners are:

  • Supercars: Heat 1A: Scott Speed; Heat 1B: Joni Wiman; Heat 2A: Scott Speed; Heat 2B: Joni Wiman
  • GRC Lites: Heat 1A: Alex Keyes; Heat 1B: Oliver Eriksson

The track here at Port of Los Angeles is painted pink in portions (pictured, top) at what’s ordinarily red curbing and off-course areas. Susan G. Komen Foundation representatives will be on site to educate and bring attention to the initiative, as well as accepting donations. This weekend’s course will also feature pink and white stripes on the infield to promote awareness.

Per the series, it took five people over three days to paint the track with two primary painters and the other three people assisting.

Great crowd thus far from those who’ve made it on the grounds at the Port of LA. It was a really long line for fans to get in:

Henry Ford III is here to provide a Ford family presence on site this weekend. There’s five Ford Fiesta STs entered within GRC’s Supercars class (two Chip Ganassi Rallycross, one Bryan Herta Rallysport, one SH Rallycross/DRR and one AD Racing) among the 13-car field, which is most in the field. By comparison, there’s three Hondas and Subarus apiece, and two Volkswagens.

On Friday, IndyCar veteran Oriol Servia made it out to the track for a day of ride-alongs and taking in the atmosphere. The Catalan rode shotgun with Steve Arpin, driver of the No. 00 ENEOS USA Ford Fiesta ST for Chip Ganassi Rallycross. Servia had a blast doing so, although I’ll admit it was weird to see him as a passenger and not driving himself!

Servia, who lives in nearby Santa Monica, is not the only member of the IndyCar world here this weekend. It actually feels as though it’s an IndyCar weekend with the high volume of IndyCar people present.

To wit, we’ve seen:

  • Michael Andretti and Rob Edwards (Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross)
  • Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan (SH Rallycross/DRR)
  • Bryan Herta (Bryan Herta Rallysport)
  • Dennis Reinbold (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing)
  • Conor Daly (Dale Coyne Racing in IndyCar; guest of Honda this weekend)
  • Dale Coyne (attending his first GRC race)

Many of the IndyCar team owners or co-owners often can’t attend Red Bull GRC races owing to IndyCar conflicts.

Daly, who’s here as a guest of Honda this weekend, is expected to test drive one of Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE’s Honda Civic Coupes on Monday after the weekend. The talented, young American overachieved this year with Coyne’s IndyCar team and remains determined to continue in the championship for a second full season, although nothing for him is done yet.

Had a long chat with Buddy Rice, who is program manager for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s GRC Lites team. Rice hailed the camaraderie of the Red Bull GRC paddock, noting how much other teams will help pitch in when cars go down with damage or mechanical failures. Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion, drove for DRR during portions of his IndyCar career, which spanned from 2002 through 2011.

DRR’s two GRC Lites drivers are motivated to succeed this weekend. Alex Keyes won his first heat race in the No. 24 Traction Factory/WIX Filters entry, Heat 1A. Keyes told NBC Sports the track at LA this year is significantly wider and faster, but it’s still difficult to pass.

Cabot Bigham meanwhile, suffered a setback in his heat race in the No. 2 Paratek Pharmaceuticals/WIX Filters entry and the crew was thrashing on his car after his heat race.

Past DRR Lites driver Miles Maroney and his father Michael are on site this weekend, catching up with drivers and teams in the paddock. The younger Maroney, now 23 and who made his debut in the American Le Mans Series as a 17-year-old in PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Prototype Challenge car at Long Beach in April 2011, is looking to get back into the series, with a Supercars drive the target for the talented Californian.

Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool
Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Patrik Sandell’s No. 18 Cuttwood Ford Fiesta ST for Bryan Herta Rallysport features King Taco signage on the left and right rear window covers. The California restaurant was also on Alexander Rossi’s No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda of Andretti-Herta Autosport for the Verizon IndyCar Series weekend here in April.

More to follow after this afternoon’s semifinals and final round races.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.