X Games moved to Austin Texas for it’s 20th year which meant rallycross moved from the streets of LA to the Circuit of the Americas for 2014, a stellar line up of drivers past and present promised a great weekend of action and they didn’t disappoint.
Following an exciting first day of action yesterday which saw VW win 3 of 4 heats and Subaru take 1, today kicked off with the second heats as Tanner Foust and Scott Speed took more heat wins for the Andretti VW team; Sverre Isachsen took a win for Subaru while Rhys Millen took a win in his Hyundai ahead of X Games legend Travis Pastrana.
Quarter final heat 1 featured Liam Doran, Millen, Joni Wiman, Austin Dyne and Brian Deegan, the first attempt saw Doran get a stunning start to lead in to the first corner as Millen tapped the back quarter of his car to put him in to a slide; Doran wrestled with the Citroen to keep things under control and lead the race. While Doran and Millen did battle, slightly further back Wiman clattered the inside wall of the first corner, this would lead to the suspension breaking on his car and bringing out the first of many red flags.
On the restart Millen did the same again, pushing Doran in to a spin, this time it was too much for the British Bomb as he spun around with Deegan getting collected in the incident too. While the chaos ensued Austin Dyne headed in to the lead to take the eventual heat win. Millen would retire from the race as Doran grabbed second, Deegan third.
Heat 2 of the quarter finals saw another red flag as Nelson Piquet Jr. went for a gap that wasn’t there, collecting Isachsen’s Subaru, forcing it in to the wall and out of the race. Needless to say Isachsen was annoyed after the race and placed the blame fully at Piquet Jr.’s feet. Following the recovery of the stricken Subaru, Ken Block took the holeshot on the restart to lead the race, he would be untouchable in the race while Piquet Jr got caught up in another incident. This time the Brazilian couldn’t have avoided clashing with Ricky Johnson as the Moto X star took the joker lap and slid in to the side of Piquet’s car; Johnson would retire with broken suspension but still be classed as finishing while Piquet Jr claimed second place.
Following the excitement of the first two heats of the quarter finals the third heat was a hard fought but clean race as Speed aced another race on the way to victory with Steve Arpin second and Pastrana a crowd-pleasing third.
Heat 4 would see the race red flagged twice, the first being for the recovery of Foust’s VW which flipped on to it’s roof as the two-time GRC champ run wide and caught the edge of the gravel trap. Thankfully Foust was unhurt and walked away from the car under his own power. Foust was keen to get the car righted after that crash but would have to sit out the race and miss the finals for the first time at the X Games.
Patrik Sandell would lead on the restart ahead of Toomas Heikkinen and Bucky Lasek; Emma Gilmour tried her best to hang on to the back of the three leading cars but was starting to fade. The red flags would be out again soon though as Heikkinen’s car spun, as he tried to recover it became clear that there were deeper issues with his VW as smoke started to pour from the footwell. Heikkinen would explain after his retirement that a broken driveshaft on the start was where the issues started and he had been driving the race with a small fire!
Third time a charm would see the race finish with Sandell taking the win ahead of Lasek and Gilmour.