Season Review: 2018 Americas Rallycross – Speed picks up where he left off

by Dominik Wilde

If you go back to the start of the year there were doubts as to whether top-level rallycross in the US would even have a home this year.

Thankfully, rising from the ashes of Global Rallycross was Americas Rallycross, and while 2018 was very much a building year for ARX – it had just four rounds – it showed that the discipline still has legs on the other side of the pond.

2018 finally had Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross deliver on its promise of the last few seasons and pull off a completely unbeaten season, while Ken Block returned to domestic US competition to challenge Scott Speed and Tanner Foust at the top.

With the maiden ARX season all being a bit last-minute, the campaign actually began at Silverstone in the great American state of Northamptonshire (spoiler: It’s not in the Americas). Foust began the year as he ended the last, by winning in dominant fashion. The American had won the last three GRC events in 2017, then took a pair of heat wins and his semi-final by more than two seconds before proving to be untouchable in the final.

Credit: ARX Rallycross

Credit: ARX Rallycross

Returning to American soil for the second round of the season, it was the turn of Speed to take the honours, winning at ARX’s first-ever standalone event at the Circuit of the Americas. The three-time GRC champions three heat wins, in addition to his semi and final victory gave him the championship lead at the mid-way point in the season, a position has wasn’t going to relinquish.

The first visit to COTA also marked the return of Loenbro Motorsports. The GRC title-challengers skipped the opening round of the season while it worked on developing its new Ford Focus RS RX alongside Hooningan Racing Division which it had entered a partnership with. The team joined Subaru and VARX as the series’ full-time competitors for the remainder of the year.

Next up was a visit north of the border to Canada in support of the World Rallycross event at Circuit Trois-Rivières in Quebec. The third round of the season proved to be eventual champion Speed’s defining moment of the year as he went four rounds of heats, a semi-final, and the final completely unbeaten. It was ARX’s first clean sweep and it put Speed in a prime position going into the final round of the season.

Credit: ARX Rallycross

Credit: ARX Rallycross

The finale was once again at COTA, only this time as a support to World Rallycross’ first visit to the US.

Despite Foust topping to qualifying heats and winning his semi-final race, Speed’s outstanding performance in Canada, coupled with his own semi-final win meant that he only needed to start the final to be mathematically assured of winning the first ARX crown and his fourth US rallycross title in as many years.

As it turns out, the last round of the 2018 season proved to be an almost carbon copy of the final GRC race, with Foust winning as Speed took overall season honours.

Credit: ARX Rallycross

Credit: ARX Rallycross

Behind the dominant Volkswagen pairing, Patrik Sandell took third in the season standings with top-five finishes in every round. He beat Ken Block into fourth who scored two podium finishes in the middle of the year, but missed the first round of the season then retired from the last, ruining his chances of a top-three finish. Chris Atkinson, the only other full-time competitor alongside Speed, Foust, and Subaru team mate Sandell rounded out the top five, ahead of Steve Arpin who had a tough part-time campaign adapting to the Focus RS RX platform, although he did finish the final round of the season on the podium.

Final Points Standings (top 10)

POS NO. DRIVER NAT TEAM POINTS
1 41 Scott Speed USA Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross 112
2 34 Tanner Foust USA Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross 107
3 18 Patrik Sandell SWE Subaru Rally Team USA 75
4 43 Ken Block USA Loenbro/Hoonigan 68*
5 55 Chris Atkinson AUS Subaru Rally Team USA 66
6 100 Steve Arpin CAN Loenbro/Hoonigan 54*
7 42 Oliver Bennett GBR Xite Racing 32*
8 33 Liam Doran SWE LD Motorsport/GC Kompetition 30*
9 77 Rene Munnich GER Munnich Motorsport/Team STARD 29*
10 44 Timo Scheider GER Munnich Motorsport 21*

*Ran a part-time schedule.

Credit: ARX Rallycross

Credit: ARX Rallycross

ARX2

It looked as is ARX2 was going to be just like the Supercars class after Conner Martell won the first three rounds of the season, although with Alex Keyes sweeping the final double header, once again the wins were split between two drivers.

Martell, who also campaigned the World RX-supporting RX2 series was untouchable in the series’ inagural event at COTA – ARX2 skipped the season opener at Silverstone, but made up for it with two rounds at each of the final two events of the year.

The Dirtfish driver therefore was effectively on triple duty at Trois-Rivières, but that didn’t hold him back as he extended his winning run in ARX2 while also making the final in RX2.

It looked as though Martell might make it through the season completely unbeaten but for Keyes, a late entry into the season with Buhl Sport, who swept the last two races in dominant fashion, mirroring Martell’s earlier success.

A missed final for Keyes in the first Canadian race all but ruled him out of championship contention though, with him finishing second behind Christian Brooks who enjoyed a run of three second-place finishes at the beginning of the season.

Final Points Standings

POS NO. DRIVER NAT TEAM POINTS
1 21 Conner Martell USA Dirtfish Motorsports 112
2 44 Christian Brooks USA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 107
3 4 Alex Keyes USA Buhl Sport Detroit 110
4 35 Fraser McConnell JAM Dirtfish Motorsports 96
5 77 Scott Anderson USA Dirtfish Motorsports 86
6 53 Cole Keatts USA Keatts Motorsport 82
7 24 Matt Carpoff USA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 60
8 3 Travis PeCoy USA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 56
9 25 James Rimmer USA Dirtfish Motorsports 54
10 2 Cabot Bigham USA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 51

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