SEATTLE, WA (April 17, 2011 | GLOBAL RALLYCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP) - Tanner Foust scored victory in front of a sell-out crowd at the Global RallyCross Championship on Saturday, after an action-packed two days of door-to-door racing at the Twin Peaks round.
Thousands of fans packed into the century-old Old Mill industrial complex near Seattle this Friday and Saturday for DiRT 3 Global RallyCross Championship: Twin Peaks, presented by Best Buy.
Foust piloted his Rockstar Energy Drink Ford Fiesta to the rallycross win in an all-star, six-car, all-wheel drive final that had the crowd up on their feet and cheering during close calls, multi-car jumps, and narrow passes.
"There's a lot of adrenaline in this sport. That was an amazing final race and I can't believe it was only five laps - it seemed like 50," said Foust. "Everything hits the fan in only a couple of minutes and it's over."
The inventive Twin Peaks course featured hairpin turns, a 70-foot gap jump and competition that ran right through a century-old warehouse. Spectators could see it all from the grandstands and were treated to aggressive, non-stop racing all day long.
"People in the Seattle area love motorsports," said Foust. "The crowd was great here."
In the Saturday all-wheel drive RallyCross final, Foust's teammate Andreas Eriksson was strong off the line in his Best Buy Ford Fiesta and he was looking good for first place until he tagged the wall of the warehouse entrance and flattened a tire. Struggling to keep his car under control, Eriksson dropped back two positions to finish third, behind Swedish rallycross veteran Michael Jernberg in his Skoda Fabia.
"I was looking forward to racing with Tanner, but I couldn't keep up after the tire went flat," said Eriksson. "Maybe Marcus [Gronholm] will do better in Colorado."
Eriksson, a veteran European rally and rallycross driver, substituted for two-time WRC champion Gronholm in the Best Buy Ford Fiesta this weekend. Gronholm had to sit this round out due to a scheduling conflict but is expected to return to the Global RallyCross championship for the next round, Last Chance, set to take place in Colorado in June.
In Friday's head-to-head SuperRally competition, Eriksson took the win, while Foust finished in second place and Stephan Verdier drove his Crawford Performance STI into third-place overall.
Subaru Rally Team USA driver Dave Mirra, a popular BMX rider who has more X Games medals than any other athlete in history, had a challenging weekend. On Friday, he rolled his car while attempting to navigate a tricky corner underneath the gap jump. He landed on his wheels and was able to continue in competition. But a couple of missteps Saturday saw him tag the wall during close racing and suffer more damage.
Mirra entered the final as the sixth so-called "promoter's option" car, under a rule that allows a fan favorite who didn't qualify to take a shot at the A-Main race. He put in a good effort, but took damage trying to make up ground and crossed the finish line with a broken wheel and smoking engine.
The Hyundai factory team of Rhys Millen and Marcus Dodd also put in a strong performance this weekend narrowly missing the podium. Both team vehicles are under development and are showing strong potential heading into the third round of competition.
The 70' gap jump provided plenty of thrills for fans. In Joseph Burke's first attempt, he approached with too much speed and jumped long, nosing the front-end of his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX into the dirt. On Saturday, Polish driver Andi Mancin attempted the jump even after losing boost in his Rally Car by Project 176. It was a brave move, but he came up far short and flipped onto the roof. He emerged from the wreck unharmed; the car suffered heavy damage.
In two-wheel drive, Saturday's RallyCross race saw Swedish driver Mikael Eriksson take his second class win of the weekend after a battle with Matthew "Mr. Spectacular" Johnson in his Nitro Circus Mazda RX8. Johnson finished second, while Dillon Van Way pushed his Ford Focus ahead of scrappy local driver Cody Crane's Honda CRX for third.
Global RallyCross Championship events see drivers take on two days of competition, with Friday showcasing head-to-head racing known as SuperRally, and Saturday's marquee RallyCross action featuring as many as six cars on course at once, aggressively bumping doors, sliding, and hitting the big jump. Top X Games stars including Travis Pastrana and Brian Deegan have described rally car competition as "action sport, with a roll cage."
Drivers in the Global RallyCross Championship are vying for a chance to win the first-ever series title - and a chance to earn an invitation to X Games 17 Rally competitions held in downtown Los Angeles this July. Two-wheel drive entries also have a shot at a prize purse to benefit grassroots competitors.
Fans tuned in to watch the action live on Facebook and ESPN3 where coverage streamed all day long. Full Twin Peaks TV coverage will air on ESPN May 14. The series has a multi-year programming relationship with ESPN, with Global RallyCross Championship broadcasts slated to follow NASCAR Nationwide and NHRA shows on ESPN and ESPN2.
In addition to the fierce door-to-door rallycross competition at the Old Mill Adventure Park, drivers were also available for autograph sessions and a vendor midway offered further entertainment for fans.
Global RallyCross action returns June 17 and 18 for the Last Chance round, slated for Pike's Peak International Raceway in Colorado Springs, CO.
The RallyCar organization sanctions the Global RallyCross Championship events. Competitors in the Global RallyCross Championship may also elect to score points in the U.S. Rallycross Championship.