PREVIEW: 2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship


Red Bull Global Rallycross returns this weekend with a visit to Memphis International Raceway in Tennessee.

For the seventh season of Red Bull GRC, three fully-fledged manufacturer entries have been confirmed, with no fewer than three race-winning IndyCar teams fielding entries in the Supercars class alone.

Scott Speed will again be defending champion – Credit: Larry Chen/Red Bull GRC

Teams and Drivers

10 drivers have so far been named for the season opener, with more expected to join as the season goes on. Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross and Scott Speed will be defending their crown for the second consecutive year with Tanner Foust once again remaining with the team.

Steve Arpin will be back again with his own Loenbro Motorsports outfit, looking to add to his single race win from last year. He’s yet to confirm a team mate, but they have been understood to be talking to a number of drivers.

Olsbergs will again campaign Hondas, with a youthful three-car assault being led by Sebastian Eriksson. 2014 and 2015 Red Bull GRC Lites champions Mitchell DeJong and Oliver Eriksson complete that lineup. 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button is also thought to be in line for a part-time campaign with the team throughout the year.

Last year’s Lites champion Cabot Bigham will race for Bryan Herta Rallysport, replacing Patrik Sandell who will drive for Subaru.

He will be joined by Chris Atkinson with Travis Pastrana also expected to feature at some point during the season.

Austin Dyne will also return, this time with Rahal Letterman Lanigan running his Ford Fiesta ST from their sports car shop in Ohio.

Former champion Joni Wiman, plus race winners Sverre Isachsen and Brian Deegan have all left the series and aren’t expected to race in Red Bull GRC this year, while three-time podium finisher Bucky Lasek has yet to confirm his plans for the year ahead.

Los Angeles will again host the season finale – Credit: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool

Calendar

Once again the Red Bull calendar is a mix of new territories and returning venues.

Fan favourites Daytona and Washington DC are the notable absences from last year’s calendar, although rounds in Memphis, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; Thompson, Connecticut, and Indianapolis, Indiana have all been added.

Another new addition is the return to international competition with the series visiting Canada in June for a double header event in Ottawa. Thompson will also host a double header event, as will Atlantic City and Seattle. Los Angeles will again host the final round of the season.

Each round will also feature more races than ever before thanks to a new race format.

 

The Rookie Class of 2017

Four drivers will tackle the full Red Bull Global Rallycross championship for the first time this season, here’s a look at the ‘class of 2017’:

 

Cabout Bigham won the Red Bull GRC Lites title last year – Credit: Larry Chen/Red Bull Global Rallycross

Cabot Bigham

Cabot Bigham made his rallycross debut in Red Bull GRC Lites last year after an impressive apprenticeship in single seaters. The teenager made the transition effortlessly, winning the title in his first attempt.

Now he’ll be racing in the Supercars category for double race winners Bryan Herta Rallysport.

 

Oliver Eriksson moves up to Supercars with Honda in 2017 – Credit: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool

Oliver Eriksson

The man Bigham beat to the Lites title last year, but the 2015 champion.

Oliver Eriksson is arguably the best prepared of all of the 2017 rookies and driving for his family’s Olsbergs team he’ll definitely have the best tools at his disposal.

 

2017 will be the long-awaited first full Supercars season for Mitchell DeJong – Credit: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool

Mitchel DeJong

Another Olsbergs Honda rookie, DeJong made a cameo appearance at the end of last year but besides that (and some spotter appearances) he’s been out of the Red Bull GRC picture since taking a dominant Lites title in 2014.

He’s spent the winter racing in Rally X on Ice in Europe and clearly hasn’t lost his speed. He’ll be one to watch.

 

Chris Atkinson will line up for Subaru in 2017 – Louis Yio/Red Bull GRC

Chris Atkinson

Atkinson may have ended up making more appearances than any other driver for Subaru in the Supercars class last year, but 2017 will be his first full season in the championship.

The Japanese marque has been working hard over the winter with partners Vermont Sports Car to make a winning car. Should they nail that, expect ‘Atko’ to be the top ‘rookie’ in the field.

 

Red Bull GRC Lites returns to the bill in 2017 – Credit: Louis Yio/Red Bull GRC

GRC Lites

At least eight drivers are expected to return for the 2017 Red Bull GRC Lites season.

Reigning champion team Dreyer & Reinbold Racing have signed up Travis PeCoy and Christian Brooks, as well as multiple race winner Alex Keyes who will finally be competing in his first full Lites season after part time schedules for the last two years.

DirtFish Motorsports will once again run two cars for Conner Martell and James Rimmer, while Jon Bennett and Colin Braun will return for CORE autosport.

Cole Keatts returns to Olsbergs MSE for a second season, he’ll be joined by Cyril Raymond.

The former F4 driver is a French Super 1600 rallycross champion, and won the 2016 RX Lites Cup on the World Rallycross bill.

Finally, AF Racing have announced that Alejandro Fernandez will continue to race for the team at the opening round of the season. He will be joined by off-road and sports car racer Burt Jenner with former motocross star Jeremy Stenberg is expected to feature for them at some point in the season.

The development series will again race at every round of the Red Bull GRC, and feature spec 310 horsepower, mid engined spaceframe cars.