Sign us up, but have the ice-bucket challenge ready.
It’s the hottest day of the year, which in Florida, means something. It’s even hotter strapped into the right seat of Red Bull Global Rallycross driver Emma Gilmour’s 600-horsepower Hyundai Veloster (in photo above), as we are about to take a few laps on the Daytona International Speedway’s GRC track, which is just over one mile long, the longest track the drivers have raced on all season.
Gilmour, from New Zealand, is no longer the only female driver in GRC, but she was the first. Her Veloster is a team car to Rhys Millen’s Hyundai – Millen also fields a Lites car for Tyler Benson. The Lites are the warm-up act for the GRC Supercars – they are all spec cars, with about 320 horsepower.
The fastest laps on the track are about 1 minute, two seconds, and the Lites, despite the horsepower drop, are only six seconds or so behind the GRC cars, due mostly to the lack of traction by the slick, spec Yokohamas. Though the track is 80 percent tarmac, the narrow slicks don’t seem to get much grip anywhere on the track – paved or dirt. They seem to act as a restrictor plate, which the highest-horsepower cars only able to really show it on the one long straight, where they hit maybe 110 mph.
Gilmour snicks the Veloster into gear – a six-speed sequential box, though a five-speed is used on some tracks – and she launches hard, otherwise the car will stall (it does once). We’re off, sliding everywhere on track built on and in the horseshoe, the first real turn off the Daytona banking for the Rolex 24 Hours cars.
A tight right, then an ultra-tight 180-degree right, heading for the lone, flat-topped jump. It’s more jarring on the warm-up lap, surprisingly gentle at speed.
Gilmour is working the transmission hard – the turbo four-cylinder’s power band is very narrow, and even with about 600 foot-pounds of torque, the revs must be maintained. She’s fast and smooth as you can be on such a tight, slick track.
In the triple-layer Nomex, it’s hot. “I have a cool suit for the races,” she says, “and that’s good, because this car generates a lot of heat,” and very little air flows through. “After a race,” she says, pointing at the transmission tunnel, “you will literally burn your hand if you touch this.”
Not all the drivers have cool suits – Braille Battery founder Blake Fuller, driving a Lites car, doesn’t – he essentially starts and ends his races with the ice-bucket challenge. “The only time I’ve been hotter in a car was when I was drifting, and there was a red flag and we couldn’t get out of the car. After the sessions on Friday, I was literally seeing stars.”
Friday saw qualifying and heat races, today we’ll see more heats and the feature, which will have 10 of the 14 cars entered on track at once, a race that will air live on NBC.
Joni Wiman earned his second pole of season Friday – his first pole came at X Games Austin. He posted the fastest lap time by just under one tenth of a second over Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross driver Scott Speed. Rhys Millen actuallyhad the fastest time, but he was bumped to fourth on a technicality, which left the veteran rally and drift driver visibly upset.
Olsbergs MSE driver Joni Wiman followed up the fastest time in seeding with a pair of heat victories in the first day of Red Bull Global Rallycross Daytona, held at Daytona International Speedway. He joined four other drivers as a heat winner during the event, held on the largest course of the 2014 Red Bull GRC season.
Wiman, Scott Speed, and Patrik Sandell qualified first, second, and third, and followed up those lap times with victories in Heat 1A, 1B, and 1C, respectively. Ken Block and Nelson Piquet Jr. got by Sandell in Heat 2A, while Speed had a mechanical failure in Heat 2C, allowing Steve Arpin to take the heat victory and making Wiman the only driver to go two for two.
In GRC Lites, Mitchell DeJong earned the fastest lap time and coasted to an easy heat victory over Geoff Sykes, Alejandro Fernandez, Tyler Benson, and Blake Fuller.
Today, it’s the Supercars semifinals and last chance qualifier, final round of Lites heats, and main events in both classes.
Full results from Supercars qualifying at Red Bull Global Rallycross Daytona are as follows:
1.Joni Wiman, #31 Olsbergs MSE Ford, 1:02.120
2.Scott Speed, #77 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, 1:02.215
3.Patrik Sandell, #18 Olsbergs MSE Ford, 1:02.297
4.Rhys Millen, #67 Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing, 1:02.645
5.Ken Block, #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford, 1:02.882
6.Steve Arpin, #00 Royal Purple Racing/OMSE2 Ford, 1:02.940
7.Sverre Isachsen, #11 Subaru Rally Team USA, 1:03.311
8.Bucky Lasek, #81 Subaru Rally Team USA, 1:03.815
9.Nelson Piquet Jr., #07 SH Racing Rallycross, 1:03.857
10.Tanner Foust, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, 1:04.489
11.Austin Dyne, #14 Barracuda Racing Ford, 1:04.837
12.Emma Gilmour, #27 Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing, 1:05.623
13.Pat Moro, #59 Chevrolet Sonic Racing/PMR Motorsports, 1:07.900
14.Sarah Burgess, #04 BMI Racing Chevrolet, 1:20.218