An intense championship shakeup saw Joni Wiman steal the points lead from Ken Block
Sverre Isachsen gave Subaru Rally Team USA a popular maiden victory at Red Bull Global Rallycross Seattle, the ninth round of the 2014 Red Bull GRC season. Behind him, an intense championship shakeup saw Joni Wiman steal the points lead from Ken Block, with four drivers able to take the championship in next month’s season finale in Las Vegas.
Due to a pushed back schedule on Friday, this weekend’s event followed the same format as the second half of the Los Angeles doubleheader, with one round of heats and the semifinals paying points. Ken Block, Joni Wiman, and Rhys Millen won the three heats, while Block and Wiman also took the semifinals to line up on the front row. Tanner Foust won the last chance qualifier in only the third race for his new Volkswagen Beetle.
Main event recap
Starting on the inside of the front row, Block had the clear-cut advantage, but after missing his braking point into the joker and then making contact with Tanner Foust, his hopes of extending the championship lead vanished. As Block limped around the course, Sverre Isachsen converted his second-row starting spot into the lead, to the delight of the Pacific Northwest fanbase.
Behind him, Brian Deegan ran in second, though WIman drove aggressively to make up time and eventually jokered to take away the spot. Deegan hung on for third in a tooth-and-nail fight with Nelson Piquet Jr., who settled for fourth place, while Rhys Millen overcame a last chance qualifier appearance to climb through the field and complete the top five.
Selection of quotes from Red Bull Global Rallycross Seattle
Sverre Isachsen, Driver, #11 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI: “It is really important for the team. We had built a new car for this season, and everybody put a lot of effort and time in the car. It’s really important, because to develop a car like this takes time. You do something wrong, but then something right, and of course we have a fast car. So it’s really important for everybody, all the Subaru guys, and especially also for me. I’ve fought such a long time here.”
Joni Wiman, Driver, #31 Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST: “It looked a bit bad in the first half of the season, but we worked hard and never gave up in the second half of the season, and that’s been really good. It’s amazing to lead the championship. I’m happy now, and I want to go. It feels amazing to be here. Of course I want to win a race, but another time. It was an amazing track—when we go out there the adrenaline started to rush, and I think it was the best track of the season. I really enjoyed it.”
Brian Deegan, Driver, #38 Rockstar Energy Drink Ford Fiesta ST: “If you had asked me yesterday how I’d do, I definitely didn’t think I was going to be on the podium after qualifying dead last. I’d say the worst thing about the other day was not getting laps, because this is the most fun track right here. This is the track where the real drivers are laying it down, getting through, being fast, and picking lines to find traction. I think this is rallycross, right here. In the end it made for a great race the whole time—just watching the cars go around the track was so entertaining, to see the guys and the driving talent out there. And car setup here, I think it was the most important track for car setup. It was a challenge for everyone.”
Collection of facts from Red Bull Global Rallycross Seattle
• Sverre Isachsen scored the first victory of his Red Bull Global Rallycross career, and the first for Subaru Rally Team USA in Red Bull GRC, in Saturday’s event. It was Isachsen’s first overall race victory in rallycross since October 2011, when he finished his third consecutive European championship-winning season with a victory in the Czech Republic.
• Joni Wiman earned his third podium finish in eight days by finishing second in Seattle. It was his fourth podium finish of the year. He became the Supercar points leader for the first time in his career with the victory.
• Brian Deegan earned the 12th podium of his Red Bull GRC career, second-most of all time, and his second podium of the season by finishing third on Saturday.
• David Higgins finished eighth in his first Red Bull GRC start since X Games Los Angeles in July 2012. Higgins finished seventh in that event, also driving for Subaru Rally Team USA.
• Ken Block’s ninth place finish broke a streak of five consecutive podium finishes dating back to July’s Volkswagen Rallycross NY. Block also lost the points lead that he gained by virtue of two podium finishes in last week’s Red Bull GRC Los Angeles.
• Austin Dyne failed to appear in a main event for the first time this season by finishing sixth in the last chance qualifier. Scott Speed is now the only driver to have made it to every main event this season.
1. Sverre Isachsen, #11 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
2. Joni Wiman, #31 Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
3. Brian Deegan, #38 Rockstar Energy Drink Ford Fiesta ST
4. Nelson Piquet Jr., #75 SH Racing Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST
5. Rhys Millen, #67 Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster
6. Scott Speed, #77 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Polo R
7. Patrik Sandell, #18 Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST
8. David Higgins, #715 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
9. Ken Block, #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST
10. Tanner Foust, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle
11. Steve Arpin, #00 Royal Purple Racing/OMSE2 Ford Fiesta
12. Austin Dyne, #14 Barracuda Racing Ford Fiesta
13. Emma Gilmour, #27 Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Veloster
14. Bucky Lasek, #81 Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STI
Unofficial driver points
1. Joni Wiman, 332
2. Ken Block, 320
3. Nelson Piquet Jr., 304
4. Scott Speed, 303
5. Sverre Isachsen, 247
6. Patrik Sandell, 239
7. Steve Arpin, 208
8. Rhys Millen, 196
9. Tanner Foust, 178
10. Bucky Lasek, 173
11. Austin Dyne, 147
12. Brian Deegan, 127
13. Emma Gilmour, 40
14. Pat Moro, 5
Unofficial manufacturer points
1. Ford, 841
2. Volkswagen, 481
3. Subaru, 420
4. Hyundai, 236
5. Chevrolet, 5
Red Bull Global Rallycross