Sebastian Loeb claims X Games RallyCross gold, Foust and Deegan share podium
As the Global RallyCross season entered its third event of the season, which took place at the 2012 X Games in Los Angeles, Marcus Grönholm looked to extend his season lead but those plans were dashed early when Grönholm was involved in a violent impact during practice. Grönholm hit the wall hard enough to tear the left front wheel off of his Best Buy Ford Fiesta, sending him to the hospital and taking him out of the competition. Grönholm’s teammate Toomas Heikkinen also left the field before the first real race began when he failed to clear the 75 foot jump during practice. Heikkinen’s Fiesta rally car fell just short of the massive jump, with the nose of his car slamming into the face of the jump base before the car rolled onto its lid and landed upside down. Heikkinen suffered a broken ankle that kept him out of the 2012 X Games field and required him to have surgery while his peers were racing.
This meant that the 2012 X Games gold was really up for grabs with Grönholm out of the race after the Finnish driver dominated the first two events of the season. However, with European rally racing superstar and 8 time World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb showing up with his Red Bull Racing Citroen DS3 XL rally car, the drivers knew that it would be no easy task to take home 2012 X Games gold. Loeb has won the World Rally Championship each of the last 8 years, racking up an incredible 72 wins since 2001. As one of the most successful rally drivers in the world, being a rookie to Global RallyCross didn’t prevent Loeb from being the early favorite – especially in Grönholm’s absence.
The Racing Begins
The typical RallyCross action started early when, during the first heat race of round one, top qualifier Ken Block had his Ford Fiesta run into from behind by Dave Mirra in his Subaru Impreza WRX STi. Both cars were able to continue but this mix up put Block so far behind Sam Hubinette and his Saab 9-3 that Block was unable to catch up and offer any pressure for the heat race win. Hubinette and Block both secured their places in the X Games finals with their first and second video. Dave Mirra and Liam Doran were forced to head into the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) for their chance at the X Games finals.
The second heat race was far less dramatic with Sebastian Loeb and Tanner Foust dueling throughout the race with Loeb winning and Foust finishing second as those two drivers headed onto the finals. Buddy Lasek and his Subaru Impreza was forced to head to the LCQ with Stephan Verdier in his Hyundai Veloster.
In the third heat race of round 1 for the 2012 X Games RallyCross event, European rally champ Svere Issachsen took the early lead and held off Brian Deegan as those two moved onto the finals. Brian Menzies (driving Travis Pastrana’s back up Dodge Dart) and Rhys Millen in the Hyundai Veloster would head into the LCQ.