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Nitro Rallycross: Meet the Drivers

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Josh Tons (1); respective driver pages

The coolest thing about an all-star racing event like Nitro Rallycross is that the field of drivers is often unlike any other in the sport’s history. Such is the case for this event: this entire group has never been in the same paddock at the same time, and a number of these drivers have never faced each other at all.

Here’s a look at every single driver known to be competing at Utah Motorsports Campus on September 22-23. This list will be updated as other competitors enter:

#00 Steve Arpin
Loenbro Motorsports/Hoonigan Racing Division
Ford Focus RSRX

2018 Events: USA 1 (7th), Canada (6th)

Coming off the best season of his Red Bull GRC career in 2017, this year has been a season of major change for Arpin. The Canadian’s career has seen him go from dirt modified superstar to one of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s NASCAR drivers to a rallycross mainstay, but his latest reinvention has seen him become a member of the Hoonigan family and Ken Block’s racing teammate.

#5 Mattias Ekstrom
EKS Audi Sport
Audi S1

2018 Events: Spain (6th), Portugal (7th), Belgium (4th), England (4th), Norway (2nd), Sweden (6th), Canada (4th), France (4th), Latvia (2nd)

Established in 2014, a year after Ekstrom made his Global Rallycross debut and won a heat race at X Games Munich, EKS RX faces an uncertain future with Audi’s decision to withdraw factory backing for the 2019 FIA World Rallycross season. A strong performance at Nitro Rallycross might encourage Ekstrom, who won the World RX title just two years ago, to ensure the team continues.

#18 Patrik Sandell
Subaru Rally Team USA
Subaru WRX STI

2018 Events: England (4th), USA 1 (5th), Canada (4th)

While he’s still searching for his first podium of the season, Sandell’s second year with Subaru Rally Team USA has continued to build off the successes of the first. The three-time Red Bull GRC race winner took three podiums in a Subaru last year, including a near-victory in Atlantic City. He currently sits third in Americas Rallycross points, best of the non-Volkswagen drivers.

#21 Timmy Hansen
Team Peugeot Total
Peugeot 208

2018 Events: Spain (12th), Portugal (6th), Belgium (3rd), England (11th), Norway (5th), Sweden (4th), Canada (2nd, France (5th), Latvia (5th)

Engaged in an intense five-way battle for second place in FIA World Rallycross points right now, Hansen is currently searching for his first Supercar win since 2016. The elder son of rallycross legend Kenneth Hansen, Timmy has been pegged for success ever since taking future teammate Sebastien Loeb’s 2012 X Games Los Angeles-winning car to fifth place in his FIA European Rallycross debut later that season.

#34 Tanner Foust
Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross
Volkswagen Beetle

2018 Events: England (1st), USA 1 (3rd), Canada (2nd)

The inaugural Global Rallycross champion extended a three-race winning streak from the final Red Bull GRC season into the debut of Americas Rallycross when he won at Silverstone in May. Foust has always been America’s most internationally respected driver, having taken seven FIA World and European Rallycross victories in his career, and finishing second in points in his only full season in 2011.

#41 Scott Speed
Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross
Volkswagen Beetle

2018 Events: England (2nd), USA 1 (1st), Canada (1st)

The winner of the final three Red Bull GRC titles, Speed has picked up where he left off last year by taking the last two Americas Rallycross race wins. He’s now got 17 victories in his rallycross career, including at least two in each of his six years competing, in 57 career starts. The ARX points leader will be viewed as a definitive favorite, although unlike many others in the field, he’s never taken a gap jump.

#43 Ken Block
Loenbro Motorsports/Hoonigan Racing Division
Ford Focus RSRX

2018 Events: USA 1 (2nd), Canada (3rd)

The Head Hoonigan in Charge finally made his return to a US-based series in 2018 after two years running an FIA World Rallycross team with factory backing from Ford. No stranger to sending it with all types of machinery, expect no fear from Block on this course’s massive gap jump. And with podiums in each of his starts to far this season, his confidence should be pretty high as well.

#55 Chris Atkinson
Subaru Rally Team USA
Subaru WRX STI

2018 Events: England (8th), USA 1 (6th), Canada (5th)

After giving Subaru Rally Team USA podiums in popular Subaru markets in New England and Seattle in the final Red Bull GRC season, Atkinson’s second full season on the squad started with him left out of the main event at Silverstone. Never fear: his results have improved in each of the two races since, and with this much dirt on the course, the World Rally Championship veteran should feel right at home.

#199 Travis Pastrana
Subaru Rally Team USA
Subaru WRX STI

2018 Events: USA 1 (4th)

Pastrana is, of course, the reason we’re all here for Nitro World Games, the man whose Nitro Circus brainchild has grown into the most important action sports brand of the modern era and one of the few organizations that actually commits to pushing each sport’s limits. With all that in mind, this course, a full-sized version of what a hyperactive child would build for Hot Wheels in a sandbox, should suit him.

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