Rockstar Energy Drink driver Tanner Foust held on to his European Rallycross Championship lead despite a tough weekend at the French round of the series. The American driver will next turn his attention to U.S. competition as he prepares for the opening round of the Global Rallycross Championship later this month. More than 15,000 fans packed into the Circuit de l'Ouest Parisien at Dreux, France, over the weekend for flat-out rallycross action during ever-changing weather conditions.
"What a chaotic event," Foust said. "On Sunday alone it went from sunny to raining at least four times, making tire choice a game of chance." Even so, Foust was quick to find his pace in the uneven conditions, setting top times in the early sessions. The Dreux facility was a new stop for the international series and Foust rapidly stepped up the pace, progressing from 18th to 2nd fastest in just two practice sessions on the track. Foust was a threat for a winning finish as the heat races began, but a pair of flat tires and a crash on course -- when a rival driver misjudged a turn -- cost him a shot at the podium. He finished 13th.
"I'm proud of how competitive we were able to be in such a short time," said Foust. "But sometimes the chips still need to fall the right way to get the result."
Combined with a dominant win at the first round of the 2012 championship, the finish leaves Foust in a dead-heat tie for the championship lead. The American driver and TV host has become a fan favorite in Europe, and fans lined up for photographs autographs with him at the French race. The Rockstar Energy Ford Fiesta rallycross car, prepared by the Olsbergs MSE team, emerged from the weekend with battle scars and a broken driveshaft after experiencing some of the on-course contact that often typifies this rough motorsport. The veteran team will return the vehicle to perfect condition for its next European outing. The 600-plus horsepower machine is virtually identical to the car Foust runs in the United States at X Games and in Global Rallycross competition.
Earlier in the month, Foust dominated in wet conditions to win the opening round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship in southeast England. It was his third outright win in the highly competitive European series. Foust became the first American ever to win a race in the championship at the Portugal round a year ago, and repeated in Sweden last July. The three-time X Games Rally gold medal winner finished the 2011 season as the runner-up in the FIA European Rallycross Championship, and took home the first-ever Global Rallycross Championship title.
Rallycross is a blend of circuit racing, off-road racing and rally competition. It promises intense crowd-pleasing action in a fan-friendly track environment. As many as six drivers line up to start at once, piloting high-horsepower compact cars through race traffic over a challenging short course that features jumps, unbanked turns, hills and transitions between pavement and gravel.
Foust is the first American to compete in the European Rallycross Championship and this season marks Foust's second full season in the highly competitive series. He made his debut with a select series of events in 2010. In addition to rallycross competition in Europe and the United States, Foust's 2012 competition schedule also includes a return to X Games Rally Car Racing this June. He makes his 2012 U.S. competition debut later this month at the May 26th opening round of the Global Rallycross Championship. The event is set to take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and will run in conjunction with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Foust and his team will mark the launch of the U.S. season with a celebration at the American OMSE headquarters in Huntington Beach, California, next week. They return to Europe June 2 for the Hungarian round of the rallycross championship at the Nyirádi Motorsport Centrum.