Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Red Bull GRC Las Vegas - The Contenders

The 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season reaches it's climax this week with the traditional season finale in Las Vegas.

In what has been the closest season in the series' history, four drivers will go into the event with a chance of taking the title - each of them looking to take their first Red Bull GRC crown.

Ahead of the event at the LINQ in Las Vegas, here's a look at this season's championship contenders:

Joni Wiman - #31 Ford Fiesta - 1st, 332 Points

Coming into this year, many expected Joni Wiman to be strong, but few could have predicted his position in the standings going into the final round.

“It’s surprising to be here in my first season of Supercars competition,” Wiman following the last event in Seattle. “Now it comes down to keeping a cool head at the final race and we’ll see where we end up in the championship.”

The 20-year-old moved up to the Supercars category after dominating GRC Lites last year, winning every single event. Although yet to win a race this year, Wiman's haul of four podium finishes (two thirds and two seconds) have seen him stay at the sharp end of the standings and quietly mount a title challenge.




Ken Block - #43 Ford Fiesta - 2nd, 320 Points

The head Hoonigan came into this season full of confidence after taking his maiden Red Bull GRC win at the final round of the 2013 season, but despite showing strong pace early on, things didn't quite go to plan for Ken Block - taking a highest finish of seventh in the opening three rounds.

"I was very well set up this year to have a very good year and then I made a little mistake in the first race of the year" Ken told us back in August. "it was kind of a bit of a struggle to get back into the full swing of things but I ended up with third in New York and then won Charlotte".

The dominant win at Charlotte for Block topped off quite a comeback for the pre-season title favourite who went on to take a further three podium finishes and the championship lead before an error in the final at Seattle saw him take both himself and Tanner Foust out of the race - and off top spot in the standings.

He may have lost the championship lead, but with the speed that he's shown this year, only a fool would discount Block.




Nelson Piquet Jr. - #07 Ford Fiesta - 3rd, 304 Points 

Consistency has been key to Nelson Piquet Jr.'s title challenge. Like Wiman, he's yet to win a race this year, but he's often been near the front, failing to finish in the top four only three times this season.

In what has been the former F1 star's first full season in Red Bull GRC, the Brazilian has shown strong pace on all surfaces, but a run of poor results at Daytona and Los Angeles has seen the Brazilian fall from the top of the table. A Fourth placed finish last time out in Seattle keeps him in contention although with a 28 point gap between himself and Wiman, taking the championship will take some doing for Piquet.

Speaking to the official Red Bull GRC website recently, Piquet said: "It’s going to be a long, hard weekend and I will be fighting for the championship with everything I’ve got."





Scott Speed - #77 Volkswagen Polo/Beetle - 4th, 303 Points 

It's been a season of highs and lows for Scott Speed. The former F1 and NASCAR driver kicked things off with a brace of wins in Barbados and X Games Austin. Engine failure in Washington DC, a penalty for illegal repairs in New York and accident damage in Daytona looked to have derailed his championship challenge. He came back with a vengeance in LA though, taking the win in the first race event of the weekend.

Despite all of the challenges he has faces this season, Speed remains the only driver to have finished in the top ten in every event so far this season and also has more wins than any other driver in 2014.

"No one’s focused on the championship here (in Vegas)," said Speed. "At the end of the day, we’re going to go out and hopefully win another race, call it four races won, and whoever wins the championship—well, we’ve done our job as a team. We can’t help the unfortunate things that have happened this year."

For the Vegas finale, Speed will swap his race winning Polo for the all new Beetle which was débuted by team mate Tanner Foust in LA.

"We’ve driven it enough to feel more confident with this," Speed said about the Beetle. "Obviously we’d like to have had more testing with it before we bring it out in race circumstances, but we feel like our odds are better with this than with the Polo. I think everyone here is just happy to get working on what our future is, and that’s this car, which hopefully gets off to a good start."

The finale round of the Red Bull Global Rallycross series will be broadcast live and around the world at http://win.gs/grcLVlive  - Coverage takes place on Wednesday November 5 from 8:00PM to 11:30PM ET (1AM - 4:30AM November 6 UK Time)

Images - Alison Padron, Gath Milan, Larry Chen, Red Bull GRC, Red Bull Content Pool

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