Scott Speed wins Ford RallyCross gold
FOZ DO IGUAÇU, Brazil -- The Ford RallyCross finals at X Games Foz produced a major upset when rallycross rookie Scott Speed beat out podium favorites, including multiple X Games medalist Travis Pastrana, defending silver medalist Ken Block, and last year's overall Global RallyCross Championship winner Tanner Foust, who were all left in a tangle off the line in a scuttled first start.
Speed, a former Formula One driver who had never jumped a car before this week, earned gold in his X Games debut.
"To be able to win it like this, to make passes at the end of the heat race and the main event, I couldn't ask for a better story," Speed said. "The racing was so much fun all week, the learning curve was huge and I still have a lot to learn. It definitely fits my driving style clearly, and I have an X Games gold medal. I definitely never thought I'd be able to pull that off in my life."
The race's first start was red-flagged after a number of first-turn crashes left the course littered with wrecked cars and disappointed drivers, including Pastrana, Block, Foust, and Buddy Rice.
"We just threw a Hail Mary into Turn 1," Pastrana said from the pits, as his crew inspected his car, the worst casualty from that first-start chaos. "But the front suspension, everything on the front left of the car is gone."With Pastrana, Block, Foust, and Rice out of the race, officials restarted with the remaining six drivers for a six-lap main event, shortened from 10 laps. Off the line, Finland's Toomas Heikkinen took the holeshot, drawing a clean line across the first turn from an outside starting position, followed closely by Speed.
Heikkinen's deep rallycross experience held Speed at bay until the final lap, when Speed dipped into his one required joker lap, a shorter line that gave him a car's-length lead coming out of the last turn and straight for the checkered flag.
Heikkinen, who was injured in a frightening crash into the face of the gap jump landing during RallyCross practice at X Games Los Angeles last year, finished with the silver medal. "Last year we had a huge crash," Heikkinen said. "But now we are back to business, a new season has started and I'm so proud we got second place."
Sweden's Patrik Sandell took home the bronze in his first X Games. All three podium finishers were first-time X Games medalists. Another X Games rookie, Steve Arpin of Canada, finished fourth.
Last year's bronze medalist Brian Deegan survived the race's first start unscathed and managed to get a critical, albeit short-lived, jump off the line during the restart before getting pinched through Turn 1. Deegan, who finished fifth on Sunday, was last year's overall runner up on the Global RallyCross Championship.The race in Brazil kicked off this season's Global RallyCross Championship. X Games Barcelona, held next month in Spain, will be host of the next event on the Global RallyCross Championship series schedule.