With the latest round of the 2014 GRC season in Daytona coming up this weekend, lets take a look back at the last race from Charlotte.
When the lights went out back on July 26th to start the GRC Supercar final at the dirt track in Charlotte, it marked the halfway point of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rally Cross season. After an exciting event last week in New York, 2-time champ Tanner Foust got the big win and Scott Speed held a four point lead over Nelson Piquet jr. But Speed was disqualified from the New York event and lost 40 points! His team was said to have connected a laptop to his Andretti Autosport Polo between rounds. This is prohibited in the GRC rule book so the new points spread is Piquet leading Speed by 36.
The dirt track at Charlotte is a rare familiar setting for the GRC teams having run races there for the last two seasons. The 8 turn track is 70% dirt and only 30% asphalt which is not common in most GRC tracks. This heavy clay-based dirt proved to through a curveball to some and a advantage to others.
The event is made up of two 6 lap heat races qualifying drivers for the ten lap main event. The top two from the heats get transfer spots into the final and the top 4 in the last chance qualifier receive the 4 remaining spots.
Heat A was made up of the fastest qualifiers such as Ken Block, Steve Arpin, Brian Deegan. Also teams who struggled in qualifying runs like Rhys Millen, Scott Speed and Nelson Piquet jr. Emma Gilmour rounded out the starting grid. Ken Block got the jump on the start while Brian Deegan and Steve Arpin battling behind him. Ken Block eased to the win in the heat getting the first transfer spot. The other two were were Steve Arpin and Brian Deegan. Points contenders Speed and Piquet had to rely on the LCQ.
Heat B saw Bucky Lasek, Patrik Sandell, Sverre Isachsen, Austin Dyne, Joni Wiman and Tanner Foust going after the transfer spots. New York winner Foust had to fight through the field to advance after stating last. Foust gave a nudge to Patrik Sandell not he frantic start sending Sandell into the hydro barriers in turn one. In the same place Foust crashed last year. Sandell demolished both the barriers and his left front ending his race weekend. The Red came out to repair the hydro barrier that were badly broken. Sverre Isachsen got the lead on the restart while Foust hit the replacement barrier in turn one sending debris all over the track. Despite the considerable damage Tanner Foust suffered in his collisions, he came through to win heat B over Joni Wiman, and Sverre Isachsen who also advance.
The star studded last chance qualifier featured GRC points leaders Nelson Piquet jr and Scott Speed on the front row with Austin Dyne. Also Bucky Lasek, Rhys Millen and Emma Gilmour raced for the final 4 transfer spots. Austin Dyne got the lead early. Coming to the white flag, Piquet took the joker lap to go from fourth to first and went on to win the LCQ. Scott Speed, Austin Dyne and Bucky Lasek get the last spots in the final. The two Hyundai teammates of Rhys Millen and Emma Gilmour miss the main event along with Patrik Sandell who crashed in his heat.
The final had Ken Block on the front row with Tanner Foust and Steve Arpin. Row 2 had Joni Wiman, Sverre Isachsen and Brian Deegan. The third and final row had Nelson Piquet Jr, Scott Speed and Bucky Lasek. As the lights went green, Ken Block took control. Block took a early lead while a quick red flag came out for Piquet who stopped in turn 1.
Block kept the lead on the restart but behind him there was contact in every turn. Tanner Foust took second but would later fall behind with a flat tire due to contact. Ken Block pulled away over Isachsen who took second from Wiman. Scott Speed was too patient racing Wiman for third costing him a podium. Nelson Piquet Jr passed them both on his joker lap giving the points leader the final spot on the podium.
Ken Block stylishly slid across the line to win his second career win In GRC and his first win in Charlotte. A ways behind, Sverre Isachsen finished second and Nelson Piquet got third. The rest of the finishers were Joni Wiman, Scott Speed, Bucky Lasek, Steve Arpin, Tanner Foust, Brian Deegan, and Austin Dyne.
Nelson Piquet Jr now holds a comfortable 46 point lead over Scott Speed in the championship. The next race will be August 23rd in Daytona.