Monday, 1 June 2015

Block breezes to victory in Fort Lauderdale

Ken Block picked up where he left last season by scooping the main event win in the opening round of the 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross season in Fort Lauderdale.

The 2014 runner up, who won last year's Vegas finale, was never really challenged in the final after making a clean getaway and building up a sizeable lead early on in the final.

Block, who began the weekend in the barriers after a daring over manoeuvre on Scott Speed in his heat failed to pay off. He finished that race third, before taking second in the second round of heats. He then went on to win his semi final, equalling the Global Rallycross heat wins record.

In the main event Block launched well from inside the front row, with fellow front row starter Steve Arpin tucking in behind. Nelson Piquet looked to pass Block on the outside but Block's choice to take the Kobalt Tools Joker Lap straight away put him in a clear lead. Arpin and Scott Speed, who opted to give up his front row grid slot in favour of the inside line on the second row, followed Block onto the joker with Speed muscling his way into second.

Despite a tag from Sebastian Eriksson, Nelson Piquet was able to hold on and speed up to third place at the exit of turn two, moving Steve Arpin further down the field. There was to be more woe for the Canadian who was later judged to have jumped the start and given a five second penalty.

The tight nature of the 0.420 mile Ft, Lauderdale street circuit and Block's clean getaway relative to the rest of the field meant the top three order never changed for the rest of the race. Arpin's penalty allowed Eriksson to settle into fourth.

Retirement with driveshaft issues ended a fifth placed run for Sverre Isachsen. This moved Tanner Foust up fifth.

The two time series champion had to fend off Austin Dyne for the final top five spot. It wasn't the first time Foust and Dyne had battled it out for position with close encounters between the pair taking place in heat two and their semi final.

Steve Arpin eventually came home in seventh, ahead of series débutée Victor Gonzalez Jr.

The subaru pairing of Sverre Isachsen and Bucky Lasek competed the top ten, ending a tough weekend for Subaru Rally Team USA at the first event for their new WRX STI.

A mechanical failure during his heat race meant that Patrik Sandell missed the final. He was classified eleventh.

Another notable absentee from the final was reigning series champion Joni Wiman.

The Finn had complained of back pain following a hard landing from the track's 70-foot jump earlier in the day and was sent to a local hospital for further evaluation.

He was later cleared and will return next weekend at X Games Austin.

Speaking after the final, Block said: "Racing these two really talented tarmac drivers was really tough!"

"They really pushed me and our team all weekend, and it was a lot of fun," he added. "It came down to starts, and I got lucky - I got quick on the starts, was able to put some good times in, and came out with the win. It's a great way to start the year!"

GRC Lites

Austin Cidric's first race weekend for Olsbergs MSE in GRC Lites was dominant. The 16-year-old was unbeaten all weekend, taking home the maximum 56 points.

There was some scary drama in the Lites final with Bryan Herta Rally Sport driver Collete Davis being force off the side of the ramp for the 70-foot jump. She was able to exit the car by herself and she rejoined the race once it was restarted.

Alejandro Fernandez and Oliver Eriksson rounded out the Lites top three.

Images: Larry Chen, Garth Milan, Red Bull Content Pool

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