Heikkinen Notches Third Win, Ford Sweeps Podium at Inaugural Global Rallycross Event
Toomas "Topi" Heikkinen wheeled his Fiesta to a third straight victory on Saturday as Ford Racing swept the podium in Bristol Motor Speedway's inaugural Global Rallycross event.
"The team did a brilliant job with the car," said the 22-year-old Finland native. "It's on fire right now. I'm so happy. I've read about this place my whole life. I am so thankful to win here."
The custom-designed course challenged drivers to navigate the track's legendary banking while steering their machines across a mix of concrete and dirt surfaces, a task that proved formidable in the early laps.
"It was so crazy," Heikkinen said. "Like 10 cars all go at the same time into the tight corner. I chose the inside line and it was right."
Though he recorded weekend's fastest times, second place finisher Ken Block suffered damage in the early melee making it difficult for him to pass Heikkinen in the 10-lap finale.
"Having the fastest car all weekend really means nothing when you get bumped out of the way on the first turn," said the Hoonigan Racing driver. "Everybody was banging around me, and unfortunately I didn't come out of that turn very good."
Third-place finisher Brian Deegan also experienced the challenges of battling inside the Last Great Coliseum when a dust-up with Heikkinen during the day's first qualifying heat sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier race. After winning the LCQ and securing his spot in the finale, the Olsberg MSE driver issued a warning to his teammate.
"The dude who took me out in the qualifier, you better watch out," he cautioned.
Also among those mired in the first-lap carnage, Deegan was unable to catch Heikknen and follow through on his promise.
"Once I got in position, I had to hang where I was," said the 10-time X Games medalist. "I couldn't really push because I didn't want to break the car in half. Bristol is just one of the gnarliest tracks around, and in this sport a lot of it comes down to survival."
The GRC Lites series, Rallycross's developmental division, also battled on Saturday afternoon with Joni Wiman notching his second victory of the season. Austin Dyne and Alexander Westlund rounded out the top three.
Global Rallycross next travels to Irwindale Speedway on August 4 for the Los Angeles X Games.