Liam Doran wins Ford RallyCross No. 1
MUNICH -- Despite running half the race on a flat rear tire, Liam Doran fought off Ken Block on the last slippery corner Saturday to win the first of two Ford RallyCross finals this weekend at X Games Munich.
"I don't know what to say, really. I had a puncture for half the race, and I thought I was going to be last -- I thought they were going to hit me -- but all I kept hearing on the radio was, 'You've got a good gap, keep on going, you've got to punch it, just keep on pushing,'" Doran said. "I might not seem that excited, but it hasn't sunk in."
Toomas "Topi" Heikkinen captured the bronze medal in the 10-car final, which had to be restarted because of a crash two laps into the first go. But nobody could catch Doran -- even as his driver's-side rear tire tread threatened to fly off the rim -- as he used the pole position to win the debut of his Mini in the second round of the Global Rallycross Championship season.
"We're excited to see how fast the car would be against everyone else because we'd been testing it a lot and preparing it and building the car, but we never had a chance to race it," Doran said. "The conditions today worked out for me perfectly. The car's lighter, but with less power. Everybody else had to power down because of the conditions, but I didn't have to turn my power down. It made a massive difference in speed."
Block, who has never won X Games gold, won his third silver medal and benefited from the restart, as he was well back of the leaders when the first attempt at the final was red-flagged. He was running third for most of the race before he passed Heikkinen on the seventh of eight laps and closed in on Doran.
"I just drove really clean in that second restart and just tried to make up as much time on those guys as I could," Block said. "My spotter had told me that Liam had a flat, and I just started gaining on both Liam and Topi pretty fast. So I knew the quicker I could get around Topi, the quicker I could get on Liam, and unfortunately it just happened all too late. I got right on Liam's [tail] for about three corners, but he was doing a good job blocking, so I never got a good run at him."
Saturday's race was a makeup for the X Games Barcelona RallyCross event, which was canceled because rain and mud made the dirt track too difficult for drivers to compete on. Similar weather didn't prevent Saturday's races from taking place, as the Munich track was mostly tarmac and a mix of gravel and dirt that had better drainage than its Barcelona counterpart. However, a steady rain made cornering on the wet course more difficult.
Doran's Mini was supposed to debut in Barcelona, but the delay worked out nicely because it allowed him to pick up his second X Games gold medal in the home city of Mini's parent company, BMW.
"We're just pushing as hard as we can to get a full Mini deal for next year and try to make a big team to go around the world," said Doran, who won gold in Rally Racing at X Games Los Angeles 2011. "I don't know how to do a better job than coming and winning gold in front of the headquarters of Mini."
Brian Deegan, Tanner Foust, Patrik Sandell, Mattias Ekström, Anton Marklund, Scott Speed and Timur Timerzyanov rounded out the field for the main event. Timerzyanov and Speed made it into the final by taking the first two spots of the last-chance qualifier heat.
Speed couldn't carry his momentum from his gold-medal victory in his first RallyCross race, at X Games Foz do Iguaçu, and finished ninth Saturday. He collided with Timerzyanov after the first turn of the restart, causing both to get knocked out of the race. Neither car was in the racing lane, so the race wasn't red-flagged for a second time.
The drivers hit the track again Sunday for the normally scheduled RallyCross event at X Games Munich. The heats begin at 11 a.m. ET and will air on ESPN3.