The first day of proper racing in the inaugural Nitro Rallycross was nothing short of eventful. The second day will probably be the same way.
After a number of format changes and confusion over who sits atop the standings, here’s what we know: Timmy Hansen, Scott Speed, and Chris Atkinson will move on directly to the final. The other six remaining drivers—well, five, as Ken Block has confirmed his withdrawal from the event due to suspension issues that were affecting his neck and back in the car—will battle it out in last chance qualifiers later today.
Eventually, there will be a final for a Nitro World Games gold medal, though whether that will be four or six cars depends on who you’re talking to and/or which series documents you’re reading. That likely throws the existence of the initially planned semifinal races into question, as they probably won’t be run if they’re not going to eliminate any cars. Then again, we were initially expecting one-on-one races throughout the heats, only to be surprised when Saturday’s telecast picked up with three heats of three cars per round.
For all of the difficulty in following the event, however, the action has at least been compelling. It started with a shakeup in single-car qualifying, with Subaru Rally Team USA’s Atkinson posting the fastest time by .06 seconds over Hansen and Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross’ Speed clipping a tire to earn a track limits penalty and falling to eighth in the nine-car field.
Speed, of course, righted the ship pretty quickly, posting the top times in both heat rounds to earn a total score of 10, tied with Hansen for the lowest combined score of the event so far. Atkinson tied with teammate Patrik Sandell for third, but the Aussie held the tiebreaker by virtue of qualifying first to Sandell’s fifth and will thus move on. Hansen and Mattias Ekstrom also added a head-to-head battle for the ages in their second round heat, which Hansen won despite plowing through a track limit due to contact.
Per Sandell, he’ll line up on the inside lane against Ekstrom and event founder/track designer Travis Pastrana today, leaving Tanner Foust and Steve Arpin to face off head-to-head in the other last chance qualifier without Block. In other words, it looks like the LCQ ladder format has been rejected in favor of simply running the even-numbered seeds and odd-numbered seeds together in their own races.
Current scores for the event are as follows:
|Ken Block (WD)||9||9||9||27|
*lower qualifying number is tiebreaker
Nitro Rallycross coverage resumes at 4:30PM ET/1:30PM PT on Velocity and Motor Trend On Demand.