Ken Block held off Scott Speed and Nelson Piquet Jr. for the victory.
Ken Block broke his streak of bad luck in Red Bull Global Rallycross season openers with a statement victory in the 2015 kickoff round in Fort Lauderdale. Block, last year’s championship runner-up, held off fellow 2014 title contenders Scott Speed and Nelson Piquet Jr. for the victory.
Polesitter Speed and Piquet won both of their points-paying heats, while Steve Arpin took his first heat victory for Chip Ganassi Racing and Joni Wiman took a victory in the only heat he ran all weekend (Wiman was not cleared by a doctor to race on Sunday). Arpin and Ken Block won the two semifinals to earn front-row starting spots in the main event, while Tanner Foust won the last chance qualifier.
Main event recap
Ten cars darted into the hairpin first corner, splitting space between the main lane and the Kobalt Tools Joker Lap. Block, who had climbed through the field heat by heat after a first-round incident while trying to pass Scott Speed, took advantage of the inside line and darted into the lead, with Speed, Piquet, Arpin, and the remainder of the field funneling in behind them. However, Arpin would vacate fourth place to serve a penalty for a jump start— the wheels moved before the green lights came on.
Behind the lead pack, a set of intense battles between Bucky Lasek, Austin Dyne, and Tanner Foust saw those three drivers jostling for position throughout the race. While they settled the mid-pack positions, Block pulled away from the field, breaking the 30-second lap time barrier on his way to the victory.
Ken Block, Driver, #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST: “Racing these two talented tarmac drivers was very tough. They really pushed me and our team all weekend. It was a lot of fun. It really came down to starts, and I got lucky—I really had great starts, and I was able to put some good times in and go for the win. Last year, I ended up on my roof in the final trying to battle back for the lead, and this year I was trying to be a little patient and a little smarter. Hopefully we’ll be in a better position here at the end of the year!”
Scott Speed, Driver, #41 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle: “It’s a great start. You have to score points here—we learned that last year, that you’ve got to be on the podium. So this is a great start that will give us a great shot moving forward. Congrats to Ken, he did a great job there in the final, and it was a great race. We’ll be back in Daytona!”
Nelson Piquet Jr., Driver, #07 SH Racing Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST: “This is a great way to start the season. We had two great heats—we won the first two. In the semifinal, Ken had a great start, took the lead, and that put us in a bad position to start the final. But we still managed to
get a podium, and I’m very proud of the team. I’m very happy to be back in my second season
of rallycross—the season started, and now we’re going for it!”
• This was Ken Block’s fourth career Red Bull Global Rallycross victory and his second in a row (after winning in Las Vegas to end the 2014 season). By winning the semifinal, he took the 31st heat victory of his career, extending his all-time series record.
• Scott Speed’s second-place finish marked the first time in his Red Bull GRC career that he has failed to win the season opener. Speed took his second consecutive pole position in two starts with the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle.
• Nelson Piquet Jr. earned the fifth podium finish of his Red Bull GRC career, as well as his eighth and ninth career heat victories. This weekend marked the first time that Piquet had won a heat race since New York in July 2014, and his first podium since Charlotte one week later.
• Sebastian Eriksson was the top placing rookie Supercar driver in Sunday’s main event, finishing fourth. Fellow Supercar rookie Victor Gonzalez Jr. finished eighth.
• Tanner Foust’s fifth place finish on Sunday marked his best result in a season opener since his runner-up result at Charlotte in May 2012. Foust’s victory in the last chance qualifier was his fourth since joining Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross.
1. Ken Block, #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST
2. Scott Speed, #41 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle
3. Nelson Piquet Jr., #07 SH Racing Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST
4. Sebastian Eriksson, #93 Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
5. Tanner Foust, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle
6. Austin Dyne, #14 Bryan Herta Rallysport Ford Fiesta ST
7. Steve Arpin, #00 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford Fiesta ST
8. Victor Gonzalez Jr., #99 Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster
9. Sverre Isachsen, #11 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
10. Bucky Lasek, #81 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
11. Patrik Sandell, #18 Bryan Herta Rallysport Ford Fiesta ST
12. Joni Wiman, #31 Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
Unofficial driver points
1. Ken Block, 53
2. Scott Speed, 51
3. Nelson Piquet Jr., 46
4. Sebastian Eriksson, 39
5. Tanner Foust, 32
6. Austin Dyne, 29
7. Steve Arpin, 25
8. Victor Gonzalez Jr., 17
9. Sverre Isachsen, 12
10. Bucky Lasek, 7
11. Joni Wiman, 4
12. Patrik Sandell, 3
Unofficial manufacturer points
1. Ford, 5
2. Volkswagen, 4
3. Subaru, 3
Red Bull Global Rallycross