Red Bull GRC: Polaris RZR side-by-side category added

Logos courtesy Red Bull GRC and Polaris
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More unique content will come to Red Bull Global Rallycross in its 2018 season, with a third category added to the headlining Supercars and GRC Lites divisions.

The Polaris RZR side-by-side vehicles will be added as a separate category compared to the more traditional cars of Red Bull GRC. This will give more weekend content on Red Bull GRC weekends.

The series is yet to reveal its full 2018 calendar but traditionally starts anywhere from late April to mid-to-late May. The full release is below.

Red Bull Global Rallycross and Polaris will introduce a new racing series under the Red Bull GRC banner for the 2018 season. The multi-year partnership will bring to the series a brand new racing category with the Polaris RZR® side-by-sides, expanding the existing Red Bull GRC competition landscape that currently includes the Supercar and GRC Lites classes.

“Polaris is the ideal partner for us to work with as we develop this new entry point class for young drivers to enter the sport of rallycross,” said Red Bull GRC CEO Colin Dyne. “They are a high performance, dynamic brand that will bring more racing excitement to our fans, and will further expand our unique presence in the world of racing.”

The side-by-side competition will be the third Red Bull GRC racing category to take to the track in 2018. Joining the flagship Supercar class that launched with the series’ inception in 2011 and the GRC Lites driver development class that debuted in 2013, the side-by-side competition serves as a new and flexible entry point to Red Bull GRC.

“This partnership brings together two thrill-seeking brands synonymous with blazing their own trails,” said Matt Boone, marketing manager for Polaris RZR and GENERAL. “The side-by-side competition is the perfect opportunity to showcase a vehicle that is built for power and precision, and will add a new adrenaline-pumping experience for Red Bull GRC fans.”

More details about the racing vehicles will be made available in January 2018. Prospective race teams and drivers with interest in learning more about the USAC-sanctioned category can contact info@redbullglobalrallycross.com.

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds