Images via ARX Rallycross
Rallycross returns to American soil today with some of the biggest names in the sport competing in the inaugural DirtFish ARX of Circuit of the Americas. Re-adding rallycross to COTA’s diverse portfolio of racing series, which already includes Formula 1 and MotoGP, here’s a quick overview of the event:
What is this event?
DirtFish ARX of Circuit of the Americas will be the only standalone event of the 2018 Americas Rallycross season. The one-day event runs throughout Saturday, kicking off in the morning and running into the night.
How can I watch it?
Look for live streams throughout the day on Facebook, YouTube, and the series website that will be up for 24 hours. If you miss them, there will be a broadcast next Wednesday at 10PM ET/7PM PT on the CBS Sports Network.
What do we know about the track layout?
While Turns 12-15 of the full COTA layout, the same area used when Global Rallycross raced here for X Games in 2014 and 2015, are part of the track’s new permanent rallycross circuit, the new, .603-mile course design is completely different. Featuring a Joker Lap on the outside of the first corner and a narrow dirt section that includes a jump, it’ll serve as a warmup for the course as COTA prepares to host the inaugural World RX of the United States at the end of September.
Which Supercar drivers will we see in the race?
Tanner Foust, who won the series’ inaugural race at Silverstone as part of the Speedmachine Festival, will lead the field, partnering with three-time GRC champion Scott Speed at Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross. Subaru Rally Team USA will add three cars of its own, with Travis Pastrana (fresh off setting three world records at Evel Live) joining regulars Chris Atkinson and Patrik Sandell.
DirtFish ARX of COTA will see the debut of the Loenbro Motorsports-Hoonigan Racing Division alliance between Steve Arpin and Ken Block, as they debut a revised Ford Focus RSRX. It’ll also see XITE Racing’s Oliver Bennett, a World Rallycross regular, join the grid.
How about ARX2 (Supercar Lites) teams and drivers?
The ARX2 class will be spearheaded by a four-car effort from DirtFish Motorsports, led by Conner Martell and James Rimmer, their GRC Lites drivers from last year. They’ll be joined by fellow GRC Lites veteran Scott Anderson, and Jamaican rally hotshoe and rallycross newcomer Fraser McConnell.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will return Christian Brooks and Travis PeCoy to competition after their strong GRC Lites performances last year; Matt Carpoff will join them in a third car, while their former teammate Alex Keyes will shuttle over to Buhl Sport Detroit. Cole Keatts will also join the grid with AF Racing.
What did we miss in the first race?
ARX is a clear departure from GRC in terms of race format, as heats are run for cumulative time instead of immediate championship points and the final drops from 10 cars to six. To the casual observer, though, the racing at Silverstone wasn’t too different, as the drivers remained aggressive. Atkinson suffered a rollover, Timo Scheider found himself racing with his hood over his windshield, and plenty of carbon fiber left the track looking much different than it did on the starting grid.
In the end, Foust took the victory over Speed and Liam Doran. But perhaps most impressive was how well the ARX cars performed on the lap charts when mixed in with the World RX cars. Even with the notable weight penalties implemented on the cars that were built to GRC (rather than FIA) spec, Foust, Speed, and Sandell were among those who rivaled or bettered the world series’ top drivers in practice.
What’s next for the competitors?
As it did in Silverstone, ARX will return to a supporting role in the World RX events at Trois-Rivieres in August and back at COTA in September. But a week before returning to Texas, many of the sport’s top drivers will be competing in Nitro Rallycross, the first four-wheel racing competition to be held as a part of Nitro World Games. That event will take place at Utah Motorsports Campus.