Red Bull GRC: Honda, OMSE reveal restructured lineup

Mitchell DeJong. Photo: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool
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The Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE team will have a significantly altered lineup for Red Bull Global Rallycross’ 2017 season, with three Honda Civics running this season, announced Thursday during the “Project CARS 2” Rallycross preview event in Los Angeles.

Sebastian Eriksson stays on for his third season with the team, while he’ll have two GRC Lites champions stepping up for their first full-time campaigns in Supercars.

Young American Mitchell DeJong, who won the 2014 title, will have his first full year back after a couple years largely outside the cockpit. DeJong made his Supercars debut at last year’s season finale at the Port of Los Angeles in a third car.

Meanwhile Oliver Eriksson, the 2015 GRC Lites champion, will make his Supercars debut in the third car. Oliver Eriksson is the youngest son of OMSE team principal Andreas Eriksson, but not related to Sebastian Eriksson, who now has ascended to the lead driver role within the team.

Joni Wiman, the Finn who peaked in the series with the 2014 Supercars series title, will not return for a fourth season. He won his first Supercars race at Las Vegas in 2015 but endured a tough season last year in the first year of OMSE’s partnership with Honda.

There’s also another name we wondered if we’d see here, and that’s 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button, who doesn’t have a confirmed race program for 2017 but had been rumored to run selected races with Honda. He’s tested at Sebring earlier this year, and was announced to race a McLaren M23 chassis at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in August.

“Coming off Honda’s maiden campaign in Global Rallycross in 2016, we are ramping up for the 2017 season with a great blend of skill and experience, in addition to talented newcomers,” said Susie Rossick, assistant vice president of Honda Automobile Marketing. “The Honda Red Bull OMSE Civic team is excited to be back on the track and is committed to increasing its time on the podium.”

“It was an epic 2016 for us representing Honda Racing,” added Andreas Eriksson, CEO and Team Principal of OMSE. “We hope to not only climb onto the podium a few more times this season, but to learn more about the Honda Red Bull Civic Coupe’s true capability. It’s an aggressive machine and we have aggressive drivers who are eager to bring home great results.”

Red Bull GRC’s season premieres at Memphis the weekend of April 29-30. Qualifying airs at midnight ET on April 30, on NBCSN, with race coverage the same day at 1 p.m. ET on NBC.

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.