Busy weekend of titles clinched: WRC, WRX, DTM champs crowned

Ogier (FIA WRC) won fourth straight title. Photo: Getty Images

Three international series crowned their champions this weekend, with the FIA World Rally Championship, FIA World Rallycross Championship and the DTM series confirming their champs. They’re sort of related.

Here’s quick recaps:

Sebastian Ogier has joined the ranks of four-time champions in WRC, along with Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Makinen. Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia won the Rally of Spain in their Volkswagen Polo R WRC and defeated Dani Sordo/Marc Marti in the process.

For the year, Ogier has won five of 11 completed rallies – no other driver has won more than twice (Kris Meeke two, then Jari-Matti Latvala, Hayden Paddon, Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen have one win apiece).

In a funny statistical quirk, Sebastien Ogier’s title also brings the number of consecutive WRC titles won by a driver named Sebastien to 13 in a row, as Sebastien Loeb won nine in a row from 2004 through 2012. Ogier’s four titles, all with Volkswagen, have come in succession since 2013. The last non-Sebastien World Rally Champion was Petter Solberg for Subaru in 2003.

Mattias Ekstrom has won this year’s FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy for Audi, while the winner in Germany this weekend was Kevin Eriksson, son of Olbsergs MSE team owner Andreas Eriksson. There’s one weekend remaining in Argentina, Nov. 26-27. The younger Eriksson’s start was nothing short of mental, as you’ll see below:

Meanwhile, here’s Ekstrom’s celebration, and a release of the 2017 FIA World RX calendar:

Edoardo Mortara (Audi) came up four points short to Marco Wittmann (BMW) in DTM, with Wittmann winning his second DTM title on Sunday in the Hockenheimring. Audi, meanwhile, secured the DTM Manufacturer’s Championship, 700-647, over BMW.

Mortara won five races to Wittmann’s three this year, but Wittmann had slightly better consistency over the course of the year. Wittmann only finished outside the points three times while Mortara was outside the points on five occasions.

Jamie Green, Robert Wickens and Paul di Resta completed the top five in points. Wickens’ season nose-dived in the final three weekends of the year after the Canadian had been in title contention until that point.

Others of note: Ekstrom actually missed the DTM weekend because of his FIA World Rallycross commitments and Rene Rast filled in for him at Audi; this is what forced Will Stevens to fill in for Rast at the FIA World Endurance Championship race in Fuji, where the G-Drive Racing team won in LMP2. Ekstrom finished seventh in points.

Past F1 driver Timo Glock was 10th in points, and fellow Timo – Timo Scheider – announced his retirement at year’s end. Scheider won back-to-back DTM titles in 2008 and 2009.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)