|ESPN.com: 2011||[Print without images]|
Marcus Grönholm won his second event in as many days at the opening round of the Global RallyCross Championship in Irwindale, Calif. Saturday's RallyCross event pits up to six cars against each other on a tight and technical track, where driving clean and fast is the only way to victory.
"This was a lot of fun, and the car was perfect," said Grönholm of his final race. "I had to push a bit with Tanner [Foust], but was clean to take the win."
Grönholm had problems earlier in the day when an electrical fault put the car into limp mode, drastically reducing power. The Best Buy Olsberg MSE team was able to make repairs to give him a perfect car for the A Main final race.
"I thought maybe I could catch Marcus, but he just got away from me," said Foust, who finished second. "He's easily one of the top five drivers in the world, and I can't wait for my next chance to take him on."
Foust did have to contend with the hard-charging privateer Stephan Verdier, who finished third.
"We really worked our butt off to get here and it paid off," said Verdier, who traded positions with Foust throughout the race. "To be almost at the same level as Marcus and Tanner, especially as a privateer, is awesome."
Dave Mirra brought his Subaru to the finish in fourth place, a remarkable result considering the team was unable to compete on Friday and had problems throughout Day 2 that continually sidelined the car.
"Subaru have built a whole brand-new car with a lot of really cool stuff, it's really an adjustment for both me and the team," said Mirra. "The guys worked hard all day to get me to the finals."
Rhys Millen suffered a bad start and was pushing hard to make up time until a spin dropped him out of contention. Swedish driver Pontus Tidemand, who had been setting a good pace all weekend, parked the car partway through the race after a driveline failure.
In 2WD, Dillon Van Way continued his winning streak from yesterday, winning all but the last heat and setting the fastest qualifying times in the morning. In the A Main, Van Way was in a tight battle with Andrew Sutherland, who clipped a wall and spun into Van Way. Both cars sustained too much damage to be able to continue, robbing Van Way of what could have been a perfect weekend.
|Marcus Grönholm never looked back at Irwindale.|
Matthew Johnson showed that perseverance is critical in rallycross, fighting his way into the A Main despite a transmission that stuck initially in second gear, and then later in fourth.
"Odi at FEAL suspension really helped us out, and got me my gears back," said Johnson. "I just went out there and had fun, and kept a level head in the last race. It's a good thing, because I was gonna be really broke if I didn't win this race!"
Randy Zimmer and Lauchlin O'Sullivan also kept cool heads to finish second and third respectively after threading the needle through all of the broken bits of car strewn across the track.
"You gotta be in it to win it," said Zimmer. "It's really tough to keep cool when there's TV cameras and a cash purse, but it's the only way to get to the end."
Ken Block made a surprise appearance on Saturday afternoon to check out the action. Though a busy schedule both in his home life and as a driver on the World Rally Championship makes a commitment to the entire Global RallyCross series impossible, Block was excited to see The Revolution at Irwindale.
"I'm very happy to see RallyCross come to America," said Block. "It's good to see people embrace it, both competitors and spectators."
The next round of the Global RallyCross Championship -- called Twin Peaks -- takes place on April 15-16, 2011, at the Old Mill Rally Park in Snoqualmie, Wash. With only a few weeks to repair and prepare, teams will have a lot to do to get ready. Twin Peaks will offer new challenges, including a course that snakes through open buildings on a mix of gravel and tarmac.