Tanner Foust got the jump on his competition tonight at "Last Chance," the final round of the Global RallyCross Championship at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. In the Super Rally finals, Foust lined up against teammate and rival Marcus Grönholm of Finland, a two-time World Rally Champion and winner of the first round of the Global RallyCross Championship in Irwindale, Calif. It was the matchup everyone had been waiting for.
"Not many people can say they've beaten Marcus," said Foust. "It's pretty awesome."
On the final lap of the last heat, Grönholm was well behind Foust and opted not to take the joker jump, instead crossing the finish line ahead of Foust, but notching a time penalty that put him to second place.
"When I saw him drive through the finish 50 yards ahead of me, I thought he must've smoked me," said Foust. "I had a few problems on the last lap and thought he must've just made up the time. Marcus just doesn't make mistakes."
The typically textbook Grönholm clipped a barrier in the first heat against Foust, damaging his steering.
"I had two bad starts in the finals, and then once we got on the dirt, I just couldn't see anything with all the dust. It was everywhere, in the car and outside. It was impossible for me to see," said Grönholm.
Rounding out an all-Ford podium was Brian Deegan, competing for his first time in a rally car since X Games 16 nearly a year ago. Matched up against Subaru USA driver David Higgins in a battle for third place, Deegan applied serious pressure to Higgins, who made mistakes that were rare for the two-time American Rally Champion. In the final race between the pair, Higgins spun in the first corner while holding the lead. With nowhere to go, Deegan hit Higgins, spinning the Subaru backwards.
"Higgins over rotated and that was it," said Deegan. "I set the goal of finishing third this weekend, and now I have a taste for first. Tonight, I'm going to watch video from today and study what everyone else is doing. I was really surprised to battle with Marcus in the semi-finals."
The day's racing ended early for the Hyundai team. Marcus Dodd crashed heavily during practice on the jump, wrecking his car and sending him to the hospital. He was later discharged and returned to the track, despite a cracked T-7 vertebrae. Teammate Rhys Millen was struggling with an overheating problem and retired from the event after his engine blew. The team were able to repair the car and Rhys will return to compete in tomorrow's rallycross races.
Robbie Maddison was on hand to test with Hyundai, but had to rent a 2WD car after Dodd crashed. Maddison was able to rent a car from another competitor and was eliminated in the first round.
Michael Eriksson won the 2WD class in his Porsche 911. After a frustrating run at the last stop of the series, conditions in Colorado were better suited to the Swedish driver.
"It's much better here for my car," he said. "The track is smoother and faster, and there is more tarmac. It was a good day today."
Second place went to Andrew Sutherland, in a Honda Civic.
"The first run in the finals was good, I was surprised at how I kept up with the Porsche, but the second run I started to overdrive things and make mistakes," said Sutherland. "Really though, it's been a good day, and I have to think about tire conservation. I don't have any spares, so I can't wear these down too much, with the big event tomorrow."
Third place went to Lauchlin O'Sullivan in his Toyota Starlet. The team got off to a troubled start, with the race motor snapping the flywheel bolts and stranding the car before practice. The team worked hard to put in a new, lower spec engine, and O'Sullivan drove to a third fastest qualification time.
"It's really good to be able to give the team this finish after having to swap the motor," said O'Sullivan. "Of course the engine problems are frustrating, but given what we had to contend with, it's a great result."
Tomorrow, teams will return for RallyCross, where as many as six cars will be on course, battling for position. True to the name of the event, this is the last chance for teams to score an invite to X Games 17.