2013 Dodge Dart gets first motorsports win at Global RallyCross New Hampshire
Saturday evening brought us the 4th event of the 2012 Global RallyCross season and for the first time this season, Travis Pastrana and his Discount Tire/Red Bull Racing #199 Dodge Dart was able to avoid mishap – dominating the field as he drove to his first victory since coming over from the Subaru camp.
The Global RallyCross event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway brought us the most exciting course design of the 2012 season with a trio of jumps in varying sizes (one of which spanned a 65 foot opening over another part of the course), a car wash, a sand-filled turn and an elevated hairpin OVER the speedway pit road wall that I hope to see more of at future events. This latest event also featured the customary slalom (that proved to be quite a problem for some drivers) along with a high speed straightaway that led into the brutal elevated hairpin – all of which worked together to make for the best course from a spectator’s standpoint. This event had a handful fewer cars than previous events so there were only three heat races and the last chance qualifier before the big final race. Missing from the field was series front-runner Marcus Grönholm and young gun Toomas Heikkinen (both hurt at the X Games) along with Hyundai driver Rhys Millen (unclear why he did not compete).
The first heat race of the 4th Global RallyCross event of 2012 was fairly uneventful with Tanner Foust and David Binks in their Ford Fiesta team cars finishing first and second while Stephan Verdier finished third in his Hyundai Veloster. Svere Issachsen did not finish the heat race, sending him to the last chance qualified with Verdier.
The second heat race of the day brought out fan favorite Ken Block and 2011 X Games champ Brian Deegan in Ford Fiesta rally cars and they were joined by Subaru drivers Dave Mirra and Patrick Moro along with Saab driver Andy Scott. The start was fast and as Deegan and Block headed into the early slalom, Saab driver Andy Scott did what he did best as he slammed into Ken Block’s left rear corner – sending Block headlong into the tire barrier. This contact took Scott out of the race with a right front wheel issue while Block’s Fiesta was badly damaged. The race was red flagged to removed the damaged cars and repair the course and for the restart, only Mirra, Moro and Deegan lined up.
Much like he did in the first start of the second heat race, Brian Deegan got a great start and really had no competition throughout the rest of the heat race as he walked to victory – securing his spot in the finals. At one point, Dave Mirra had gotten within striking distance but as he brought his Subaru Impreza out of the last turn, he clipped the wall just before heading over the table top jump and when he landed awkwardly, he blew out one of his rear tires. Luckily, Moro had dropped out of the race so Mirra only had to baby the car around the track to finish second and advance to the finals – although he did have to jump the 65 foot gap jump on three tires to get his “free pass” to the finals.