Toomas "Topi" Heikkinen raced to his third consecutive victory in the Global Rallycross Championship season Saturday in the first stop at the famous Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn.
Heikkinen was in the fifth position at the start but came out ahead after squeezing through the inside of the bottleneck on the first turn's second corner of the nine-car final.
"The team did a brilliant job with the Ford Fiesta; it's on fire right now. I'm so happy. I'm going to really enjoy it," Heikkinen said afterward.
Ken Block finished second and Brian Deegan was third in the all-Ford podium. Block was the fastest car earlier Saturday in seeding and had the fastest lap of the heat winners to earn the pole position in the final, but he couldn't catch Heikkinen in the 10-lap final. Deegan earned his second consecutive podium after finishing third in Round 4 last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Deegan managed to win the last-chance qualifier (LCQ) heat despite driving "a battered dog" of a car. After bashing cars with Heikkinen in the first heat, Deegan told ESPN's Alyssa Roenigk that he didn't know if the car could be repaired in time for the LCQ.
It was clearly good enough, however, and after earning a spot in the final Deegan sent a warning to Heikkinen: "The dude who took me out in qualifier, ya better watch out."
But after that early bottleneck, Deegan never got close enough to Heikkinen to follow through on his promise.
In addition to three wins in a row, Heikkinen has reached the podium in all five rounds of the GRC this season and padded his overall lead in the series to 34 points more than his next-closest rival, Deegan.
Bristol's notoriously steep banks were a new challenge to the drivers in the 3-year-old series as they tried to adjust to the corner off the bank. The varied terrain of concrete, asphalt and gravel took its toll on the cars and caused many flat tires from qualifying Friday through the races on Saturday.
Tanner Foust, who entered Saturday second overall in the GRC standings, blew two tires when he went into the corner sideways during Heat 2. Foust made it through to the final after finishing second in the last-chance qualifier, but he had more mechanical trouble and did not finish the main event.
In the second round of the Lites class, Joni Wiman raced to victory in the final, which had to be restarted because Kevin Eriksson flipped over in a crash, triggering a red flag. Eriksson walked away unhurt.
The GRC season continues Aug. 4 when it makes its fourth and final X Games stop of the season, in Los Angeles.
Global Rallycross Championship Round 5, Bristol Motor Speedway, July 20, 2013
|4||Sverre Isachsen||1 Lap (5:02.428)|
|5||Patrik Sandell||1 Lap (5:08.696)|
Global Rallycross Championship overall standings through July 20, 2013