Verizon IndyCar Series driver Conor Daly got his first taste of a rallycross car earlier this week when he tested Olsbergs’ Honda Civic Red Bull Global Rallycross car in Los Angeles.
Straight after the Red Bull GRC season finale, which saw Olsbergs Honda run three cars for the second time this season, the team stayed behind for a test and media day at the purpose-built track in the Port of LA, allowing Daly to get some seat time.
Daly, a race winner in GP3 and Indy Lights, has a good relationship with Honda – who has powered him in each of his 22 Verizon IndyCar Series starts. He says that relationship was key to getting the opportunity to drive the 600 horsepower Civic.
“I have a great relationship with Honda and I’ve always had an interest in getting into a GRC car so they were able to make it happen for me,” he said. “They saw it as a great PR opportunity and a perfect chance for me to get a taste of the car and make a cool video out of it at the same time.”
Dally in fact attended the whole weekend of racing prior to his test, taking in the series and learning as much as he could before he got behind the wheel.
“I spoke to the whole Red Bull Honda OMSE team all weekend,” he revealed. “I wanted to know everything I could about the car before I got in it because I know chances to get in these cars don’t happen often.”
A seasoned professional in open-wheel racing, Daly has never raced a tin-top since he took up racing aged 10. However, having a roof over his head wasn’t the only difference for him.
“The GRC car feels so soft because the suspension obviously has to deal with 2 different surfaces AND a jump,” he explained, “but the amount of grip when the car feels like it’s almost on 3 wheels is incredible. The IndyCar is a very stiff platform with a lot of aerodynamic grip compared to the GRC car which almost purely relies on mechanical grip.”
“The car obviously has incredible all-wheel drive torque off the line but I was actually really impressed with how well it handled on tarmac,” he said of the car that will launch from zero to 60 miles per hour in under two seconds. “It obviously looks like a rally car so it looks like it should be a little sloppy on pavement but great on dirt when it was in fact great on both surfaces.”
After getting a taste of Red Bull GRC, is there a chance we could see him racing in the series in future? He’s not ruling it out. Daly has paid close attention to the championship in recent years, watching the rise of good friend Scott Speed, and with his IndyCar future still not secured, Daly is open to the idea of a switch.
“I think I have to be open to anything at this point,” he admitted. “I’m obviously focusing on getting back into IndyCar but you just never know what’ll happen so I’d definitely take an opportunity in GRC should one present itself.”