Red Bull Global Rallycross Rundown: New Teams, Driver Changes, Pre-Season Storylinesby Alanis King April 19, 2015 0 comments
Photo Credit: Wayne Thomas
By: Alanis King
As the 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross championship prepares to get underway next month in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the series will see some new drivers — and teams — in the paddock. During a 12-race championship season — with X Games Austin as a non-points invitational event — GRC will see teams such as Chip Ganassi Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport amongst the list of series debuts this year.
The Supercar teams that will see no changes this year include Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, SH Racing Rallycross, and Subaru Rally team USA. VARX will return its lineup of Tanner Foust and Scott Speed as championship contenders, SH Racing and Nelson Piquet Jr. will make a second full-time championship campaign, and Subaru brings back drivers Bucky Lasek and Sverre Isachsen to the competition.
While the series still awaits a few team announcements prior to its first event of the season in May, a handful of the biggest pre-season stories can be found below:
Chip Ganassi Racing Teams enters GRC with Brian Deegan, Steve Arpin: Adding to its arsenal of NASCAR, IndyCar and TUDOR United SportCar Championship teams, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams will now field two Ford Fiesta ST entries in the GRC Supercar division. The cars of Steve Arpin and Brian Deegan will line the shop in Concord, N.C. that houses the team’s NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series programs. Arpin is slated to run the entire championship season in the No. 00 ENEOS scheme, and Deegan plans to run seven races, including X Games Austin, in the familiar No. 38 Rockstar Energy Drink Ford.
Reigning champions Mitchell DeJong and Joni Wiman team up in Supercars at Olsbergs MSE: A team that has won all four GRC Supercar championships prior to this season will now include defending champions Mitchell DeJong and Joni Wiman, who captured the 2014 GRC Lites and Supercar championships, respectively. Wiman, the 21-year-old driver who also holds a GRC Lites title from the inaugural running of the series, managed to podium five times during the most recent Supercar season. Though Wiman failed to capture a Supercar race victory in 2014, the story for the driver who will run alongside him in the division was quite the opposite — DeJong won all but two of the nine GRC Lites races in his championship season at OMSE. In addition to the Supercar lineup for 2015, OMSE will field Austin Cindric and Oliver Eriksson behind the wheel in its GRC Lites program.
Nur Ali joins returning GRC Lites competitor, Alejandro Fernandez at AFRacing: In Alejandro Fernandez’s second year in GRC Lites competition, the driver will race alongside Texan Nur Ali, who boasts experience in international, as well as domestic racing, including the World Cup of Motorsports, NASCAR, and the ARCA Racing Series. AFRacing will expand to a two-car GRC Lites operation this season, with a rookie campaign by Ali and a return by Fernandez, who finished third in the championship last year.
SH Racing Rallycross returns with Nelson Piquet Jr.: After a debut season for the team yielding a 4th-place finish in the driver’s championship by Nelson Piquet Jr., SH Racing and its driver returns to GRC for their second full-time campaign in the series. Boasting an X Games medal from 2014 but still lacking a win in the series, Piquet will again pilot the OMSE-built No. 07 Ford Fiesta ST for the 2015 season.
Rhys Millen Racing welcomes Jackie Heinricher to GRC Lites program: After collecting his first Supercar wins in GRC last season in Daytona and Los Angeles, team owner Rhys Millen adds a new name to his roster in the GRC Lites division for 2015: Jackie Heinricher. Driving the No. 57, Heinricher will compete full time in the series for Rhys Millen Racing beginning in Ft. Lauderdale in May. Heinricher, with experience in both the Ferrari Challenge and open-wheel cars in the Jim Russell Formula 3 series, has already participated in pre-season testing with RMR and “proven her speed,” according to Millen.
Bryan Herta Autosport opens up from open-wheel racing, expands into rallycross: Bryan Herta, who now makes his official entrance into GRC with Bryan Herta Rallysport, will bring Supercar drivers Austin Dyne and Patrik Sandell and GRC Lites driver Collete Davis on board to compete in 2015. Getting a taste of GRC last season, Herta partnered with Barracuda Racing to field a full-time Supercar for Austin Dyne, and the team made the final in eight of the ten events. This year, Herta has partnered with co-owner Sean Jones to bring his team name to the series with Dyne and Sandell driving familiar cars — the No. 14 and No. 18 machines, respectively — and newcomer Davis.
Alex Keyes, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing enter GRC Lites division: Expanding from the Verizon IndyCar Series, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing plans to field two entries in the GRC Lites division during the 2015 season. While the other driver on the roster is to be named in the near future, 17-year-old Alex Keyes will bring experience in karting, formula cars and Pro Mazda competition to the series for DRR. The Ford Fiesta ST machines driven by the DRR lineup will be prepared by OMSE, and the team will have former Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice as a driver consultant for the program.