Best of RallyCross at X Games Austin
Survival of the Fittest
Thanks to a hairpin turn just off the starting line, RallyCross at X Games Austin was a slugfest from start to finish. Some drivers, such as Scott Speed and Liam Doran, elected for the holeshot to get the carnage behind them. Others, such as Bucky Lasek, hung back and let the battle sort itself out. Drivers did anything to avoid getting bounced around the middle of the pack. Those who survived had a chance at X Games gold. Speed, center, kept the pack behind him to win gold; Lasek, right, finally got a RallyCross medal with silver; and Nelson Piquet Jr., left, finished third.
Bucking The Trend
It's no secret that skateboarder Bucky Lasek has struggled in his second career as a race car driver. At X Games Austin, Lasek did what he could to stay safe and keep his car running, watching cars in front of him drop off or spin out. He emerged with a solid dent in the side of his ride but kept all four wheels running, enough to grab second place and a long-awaited RallyCross medal.
When Andretti Motorsports funneled money and expertise into its Global Rallycross team, many expected its prolific driver Scott Speed to do well on the circuit. However, the X Games track left many riders complaining and worried that the first turn would take them out of the race. Speed beat Liam Doran to the holeshot and led the field heading into the first turn, then never looked back as the rest of the drivers jockeyed for position. Speed's win is his second X Games medal. The former NASCAR driver won his first RallyCross gold at X Games Foz do Iguau, Brazil, last year.
Scott Speed leads the pack heading into the dirt hairpin. Rally cars are designed to race on a variety of surfaces, including rocks, water, logs and sticks, and jumps. The X Games course was relatively short and tame compared with other courses on the Global Rallycross circuit. It made for tight racing, several delays because of wrecked cars and danger in the middle of the pack.
Last year's Global Rallycross champion, Topi Heikkinen, saw the head of the pack for a brief moment in his quarterfinal heat. But engine trouble caused him to drop out, and he was unable to defend his title. His appearance was controversial because X Games is the only such rally race Heikkinen will compete in this year. He chose the European World RX circuit over Global RallyCross.
Midway through the race, Liam Doran corrected his early mistakes but took a tight line to prevent the pack from closing in. He got spun out, recovered and battled unsuccessfully the rest of the race to retain his position.
Middle Of The Pack
Liam Doran (33) gets mixed up in the pack in third position heading into the final hairpin turn. Doran was too aggressive near the end of the race, ultimately costing him a podium spot.
A First For X
In Austin, Emma Gilmour became the first woman to drive a car in an X Games rally race. Gilmour made it out of her heat race to advance to the semifinals but finished last in her semifinal heat. She was slated to be joined in history with Sarah Burgess, but mechanical issues forced Burgess' withdrawal from X Games before the event.
Liam Doran did get some space between him and the field for a short period of time in qualifying races. His strategy to advance through qualifying was to keep his car intact. He won his semifinal heat by two seconds, a safe distance from Austin Dyne.
Travis Pastrana looks into his rearview to see Nelson Piquet Jr. hot on his tail. The decorated X Games athlete has had his ups and downs behind the wheel of a car. With two podium finishes on the World Rallycross tour -- the rugged, woodsy sister circuit to the arenalike Global Rallycross -- he had high hopes coming into X Games. But his day was not to be as Pastrana was eliminated in the semifinals, finishing fourth in his heat.