Saturday, June 9, 2012

Global RallyCross: “Clean Up on Turn One”

Texas Motor Speedway, June 9, 2012. With temperatures expected to be in the low to mid nineties by mid-afternoon in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we expect tempers will also get flared as drivers contest for a place in the A-Final of the Global RallyCross event. 

After some issues were uncovered with the gap jump during practice yesterday, organizers were forced to greatly reduce the course used for qualifying. Instead of full course qualifying drivers set their fastest times for grid position on the mini oval used mostly by the Legends cars at Texas Motor Speedway.

Although the groups for each heat have been established it is unclear at this point in time as to the status of the gap jump. We believe that the gap will be reduced from 70 to 50 feet in an effort to slow speeds and ease the impact on landing. But, in the heat of battle drivers have a tough time easing up for the jump. As the Hoon Kaboom Texas serves as a last chance qualifier to the 2012 Summer X-Games, we expect plenty of bent metal, cracked fiberglass and testy drivers.  
Looking at the groups in each heat, here are our predictions as to how it will all unfold.

Heat 1a

With his Mountune powered Ford Fiesta, Marcus Gronholm has been showing some blistering launches off the line.  It should come as no surprise that we are looking to Marcus for another heat win. Assuming his Dodge Dart is up and running after its hard landing yesterday, Travis Pastrana will surely be looking to redeem himself after a disastrous outing in round number one of the GRC in Charlotte. It’s hard to count Andy Scott out of the mix in the opening heat; the Scotchman has been showing some great form in the Saab 9-3.

Heat 1b

Ken Block’s Ford Fiesta should have the legs for the other cars in his heat, but a flawless hole shot from the Monster World Rally Team driver is critical. Should Block find himself in second, as he did in Charlotte with Gronholm, he should not get too involved in chasing for victory as first and second place automatically move forward. We expect Block will see a lot of pressure from Sam Hubinette who is driving one of the Scott-Eklund Racing Saab 9-3’s.

Heat 1c

Clean up on turn one! This is where things will get interesting. We definitely expect to see some pushing and shoving in this heat with Brian Deegan and Liam Doran lining up in the same heat. Nonetheless, we see Doran in the Citroen as having the advantage and the aggression to make the break right out of the gate. Although Stephen Verdier had a poor showing in qualifying, he will be in the heat of the battle when push comes to shove, assuming his Hyundai is up to snuff.

Heat 1d

For the final heat, we have our money on Foust all the way, leaving his Ford team mate Toomas “the Hit man” Heikkinen to battle it out for second with Sverre “The Viking Warrior” Isachsen in the Subaru.

Round two of the Global RallyCross Championship can be viewed on ESPN3 at 3pm EST time. It will be replayed at 1am EST on ESPN2 tonight.