Yesterday was the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship Media Day held at the Hotel Maya in Long Beach, California. The timing and location seemed fitting considering how many IndyCar teams and/or drivers are becoming associated with GRC as the area gears up for the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach that takes place this weekend.
The biggest news we had already heard a few weeks ago, and that was the announcement of IndyCar team owner and overall motorsports mogul Chip Ganassi Racing joining the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship for 2015. Their two car team will be driven by Brian Deegan and Steve Arpin (and as usual, Arpin was all smiles). Deegan won’t be doing the full Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship as he’s still committed to the Lucas Oil Off Road truck series.
Olsbergs MSE’s new squad is the youngest, but will without a doubt be some of the most competitive. Leading the team will be last year’s Red Bull GRC Champion Joni Wiman and sure to put on a show will be the 2014 GRC Lites Champion Mitchell DeJong. DeJong dominated the Lites category in a record breaking season, and we can’t wait to see what he’ll do in a supercar. The team will continue to use the Olsberg’s designed 4 time championship winning Ford Fiesta STs.
Andretti Autosport’s Tanner Foust and Scott Speed will continue their Red Bull GRC quest for a title in Volkswagen GRC Super Beetles. Both Tanner and Speed are anxious to be able to compete a full season with the new car.
Nelson Piquet Jr. will be competing the full championship again and X-Games in the SH Racing Olsbergs MSE built Ford Fiesta ST.
And of course Ken Block announced his full commitment to Red Bull GRC in his new “Intergalactic” livery.
The biggest news of the day was of course the TV deal. NBC Sports’ 2015 television schedules for both the Supercar class and GRC Lites were unveiled. The NBC family of networks will broadcast 24.5 hours of original Red Bull GRC content this season, with live Supercar shows on local NBC networks and both Supercar rebroadcasts and Lites broadcasts on NBCSN. Additionally there was mention of 8 regional partners that will rebroadcast the championship in 99 countries. The NBC Sports deal is a boon for the Lites category which didn’t get hardly any airtime last season. I didn’t see mention whether or not either the Supercar or Lites will also get live streaming (beyond what NBC already offers). By far the best for me was watching full uncut streaming broadcast of the final round including earlier heat races on RedBull.tv from SEMA. I’m hopeful that the entire season will offer similar live streaming.
Former Indy 500 winning team Bryan Herta Autosport has doubled down on GRC with new partner Sean Jones of 7R, Inc. forming the Bryan Herta Rallysport team. The new BHRallysport team will consist of two supercars and a GRC Lites entry. Drivers Austin Dyne and Patrik Sandell will pilot Ford Fiesta ST GRC supercars built by M-Sport. This means M-Sport is now providing cars for BHRallysport, Ken Block and Chip Ganassi Racing. It will be interesting to see the sub-manufacturer battle of Ford Fiestas from M-Sport vs. those from Olsbergs MSE.
The GRC Lites car will be driven by 20 year old Collete Davis who is better known for her open wheel racing in the Mazda Road to Indy program.
And not to be out done, yet another IndyCar team is getting into the series, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing! DRR is going to start out with two GRC Lites entries with their primary driver being 17 year old Alex Keyes. Keyes has competed in regional open-wheel racing and the Pro Mazda segment of the Mazda Road to Indy. The amount of open-wheel backed talent going into GRC and GRC Lites is quite astounding.
Subaru Rally Team USA confirmed the team’s 2015 Red Bull GRC plans, with Bucky Lasek and Sverre Isachsen contesting every event in a pair of new Subaru WRX STIs. Travis Pastrana will compete at X Games Austin, while the team also has a fleet of four cars from the previous generation available to race. Bucky’s version of the new 2015 WRX STI GRC Supercar was on display, and Bucky couldn’t say enough about the improvements in handling.
Finally, Red Bull GRC CEO Colin Dyne confirmed a two-year extension with series title partner Red Bull, taking the two parties’ deal through 2017. This part was pretty well expected considering the success the series has had so far.
So that’s the scoop from Media Day and I feel like I’m repeating myself saying that this year will be another “best year yet” for the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship, which is a good thing!