By Patrick Rall
The Dodge Dart rally team headed into the X Games Brazil for the first stop in the 2013 Global RallyCross season with two full time teams but both teams would fall well short of their expectations for the start of the GRC season.
As unfortunate result of the seeding procedure, both Bryce Menzies and Travis Pastrana competed in the second heat race of the day in the X Games Brazil RallyCross event against Ford driver (and 2012 X Games gold medalist) Brian Deegan and NASCAR driver Nelson Piquet Jr. The upside to having both team cars in one race is that they each have an “ally” but the downside is that only two cars from each heat advanced to the GRC final. This means that the two Dodge drivers would have to finish 1-2 in order to both go through to the finals and that includes beating 2012 X Games GRC champ Brian Deegan. On the start of the heat race, Nelson Piquet Jr. jumped out to an early lead but he did so illegally and he would be forced to serve a stop and go penalty. With Piquet out of the way, Deegan took the lead with his Ford Fiesta while Pastrana sat in a comfortable 2nd with his Dart. Those two would finish there so advance to the finals while Menzies finished last – forcing him to rely on the Last Chance Qualifier to make it to the final race of the event.
Bryce Menzies started on the second row behind Liam Doran and while starting on the second row is usually a huge disadvantage, at least Menzies was behind Doran – a driver who had been one of the fastest cars in the field leading up to the LCQ. Unfortunately, Doran blew the launch as Menzies launched well and the blue Dodge Dart slammed into the back of the black Citroen. Because of that, Menzies finished last in the LCQ and last in the event overall.
Travis Pastrana started on the outside of row 2 for the 201 X Games Brazil GRC event behind rock’em sock’em racer Toomas Heikkinen. As the race began, Heikkinen dove hard to the inside much like he did in his heat race and as was the case in Heikkinen’s heat race – he caused a gigantic crash. As Toomas jammed his Ford Fiesta to the inside of the turn 1, all of the cars behind him were forced to run into each other or slow way down. The result was a huge crash that knocked many expected front runners to the rear of the field. Luckily, Travis Pastrana predicted Heikkinen’s aggressive dive to the inside and he kept the #199 Dart to the outside but he got a touch too far wide and hit the soft outside back. This sent him back quite a bit in the field and on the next lap around, Pastrana lost the brakes in his car and ran into Tanner Foust as the two entered a turn. That was the end of the day for Pastrana and with it came the end of hopeful Dodge fans racing day. Pastrana ended up finishing 7th overall a restart brought about by the high number of early wrecks.
After the red flag in the GRC final, just six cars restarted on a run for the X Games gold medal and in a dramatic last turn pass – NASCAR driver Scott Speed passed Toomas Heikkinen for his first win in the Global RallyCross ranks.
Round 2 of the 2013 Global RallyCross season comes on May 19th, when the GRC racers travel with the X Gamers to Barcelona Spain.