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BRISTOL, Tenn. – That sweeping sound you heard came from Ford Fiesta STs.
Toomas Heikkinen scored his third consecutive victory during the fifth round of Global Rallycross Championship (GRC) at Bristol Motor Speedway today, and helped Ford Fiesta capture its second its second consecutive podium sweep and third this season.
Heikkinen, the Bluebeam OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST driver, continues to lead the championship points and is the only driver to have made the podium at all five rounds this season.
“This is really good to keep the championship points lead and win my third race here at Bristol,” said Heikkinen. “My Ford Fiesta ST is on fire right now and it was a great race for us. I am really enjoying racing in the U.S. and am just happy to have made it to the podium again.”
In the Global Rallycross seeding session, Heikkinen was seventh overall, which set him in the third position of the first heat. With a pass on the final lap of the heat, Heikkinen finished second behind Ken Block and ultimately advanced into the main event.
“I didn’t have the best start to my day and did not qualify well, but I got a good start in the main which is what matters,” said Heikkinen. “I choose the right line on the inside which put me in a good position and I was able to avoid getting bumped around too much.
“I took the joker lap in the middle of the race because I heard Ken Block may be catching me by the last few laps. Then I heard he was two seconds or so behind me so I just tried to stay focused on keeping the right line to stay ahead and then finished first.”
With a win at Bristol, Heikkinen has finished first in both U.S. races.
“This is my second win in the U.S. and my third win with global X Games,” said Heikkinen. “The win means so much to me right now and I am so happy and grateful to be here.”
For Block, it was his second podium appearance this season. The Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST driver finished just under two seconds behind Heikkinen for second.
“The first turn of the main race was a bummer,” said Block. “There were a few cars banging on me and with nowhere to move I didn’t come out well on the first turn. From there I did everything that I could, but ended up two seconds behind Topi in second place.”
Block qualified first in the fifth round of Global Rallycross and won both of his heats to ultimately advance to the main event at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“I won every heat I was in and qualified the fastest in practice but it really means nothing in the end,’ said Block. “With four laps to go I could see I was getting closer and closer to Topi and I was not going to give up. I put in everything trying to find the quickest line and maybe with three or four more laps I could have had him.
“The first turn is just a crapshoot in Rallycross. I did everything possible to win and got booted around in the first corner and that was it,” said Block. “I am very confident at what I am doing in the car, the car is absolutely dialed and it has done everything I want it to do. My team has worked very hard to get the car where it is. I’ve been able to find lines and qualify well so I am going to continue doing everything that I can.
“I enjoyed the venue, it is a beautiful facility and the fans have been great,” said Block. “Hopefully next time we come back I am standing on top of that podium.”
For Deegan, a third place finish at Bristol earned him his second Global Rallycross podium appearance of the season.
“I was in survival mode in the main event,” said Deeegan. “Coming out of the LCQ (last chance qualifier) we didn’t have much time to work on the car and with the fast turnaround into the main I was happy to finish third. There is a lot of luck that goes into winning a race this season, coming out of the first corner unharmed is really what it comes down to.”
The Rockstar Energy OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST driver seeded fourth overall but failed to make the top two in his heat putting him into the LCQ. Deegan finished first in the LCQ followed by Rockstar Energy OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST teammate Tanner Foust and both advanced into the main event.
“Coming down into the heat qualifier, I don’t know what happen with Tanner and Ken but they just ran right through me and I got into carnage, had a poor finish and forced us into the LCQ,” said Deegan. “Luckily I survived the LCQ and went on to the final.
“I started dead last in the final but I was inside,” said Deegan. “Sometimes I think the inside third row is better than the front row outside. I figured I’d stay low, out of everyone plowing into each other and that I’d be in the top five within the first few laps. I saw Topi cut high and somehow miss, I think it was Isachsen who plowed through the field and being on the inside I only made a little contact and squeezed through with a podium end result.
“I know I have the speed so I am looking forward to the big race at X Games (Los Angeles) to see what I can do there,” said Deegan. There is a whole rest of the season and I think I am steadily getting better. We’ve adjusted stuff in the car and I am starting to get back to where I was a year ago with better starts. That’s what it takes in this sport. I feel confident and feel we made a headway going into LA with my starts so I think that I will be one of the top three dudes to battle for the gold. Every time I go on the track I am in the top three or five with my times and that’s not bad for a dirt biker.”
The start of the GRC main at Bristol Motor Speedway included a fast turn around the 30 degree bank followed by a straight dive into the infield. Block was the fastest off the start of the main and had the lead on the first corner until multiple drivers made contact. Tanner Foust had heavy damage to the front end of the Rockstar Energy OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST forcing him to retire out of the main right away. Heikkinen was able to avoid much contact and took the lead out of the first corner, followed by Steve Arpin and Block. Arpin had trouble with his car, pulling off the track for Block and Deegan to follow Heikkinen for the rest of the race.
Ford had six cars in the Global Rallycross final at Bristol Motor Speedway and won two of three heats for Fiesta ST (Block, Sandell).
FORD GRC 2013 PEFORMANCES
Bristol Motor Speedwa:y 1st Place (Heikkinen), 2nd Place (Block), 3rd Place (Deegan)
New Hampshire Motor Speedway: 1st Place (Heikkinen), 2nd Place (Sandell), 3rd Place (Deegan)
X Games Germany 2: Gold (Heikkinen), Bronze (Foust)
X Games Germany 1: Silver (Block), Bronze (Heikkinen)
X Games Brazil: Gold (Speed), Silver (Heikkinen), Bronze (Sandell)
The Global Rallycross Championship will next run at X Games LA (Irwindale Speedway) on Sunday, August 4, 2013 for the series’ final X Games race of the season.