HAMPTON, Ga. - Toomas Heikkinen followed up his X Games Los Angeles gold medal by making Global Rallycross history on Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Heikkinen, driver of the Bluebeam OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST, won his fifth straight series event in dominating fashion as he earned the top seed before winning both of his heat races and then beating fellow Ford driver Tanner Foust to the checkered flag in the GRC Round 7 main event.
“It was quite a different race for me since I am now trying to win the championship,” said Heikkinen, who became the first driver to win two X Games gold medals last weekend with his X Games triumph. “I had a really great start in my Ford Fiesta ST in the final race, took the joker on the first lap, and was able to keep the lead.”
That wasn’t the only lead he kept as Heikkinen extended his advantage in the point standings to 43 over teammate Foust, who denied Heikkinen from clinching the overall championship by finishing second.
“I have come such a long way from last season,” said Heikkinen, who suffered a fractured leg last year during X Games Los Angeles and missed the remainder of the year.. “I am confidant once again in the race car and think that I have the best car out there. It is always a battle, but I am very happy to be on top right now.”
The runner-up finish was the second straight for Foust in the Rockstar Energy OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta ST and third podium appearance this season.
“This track was really a difficult track and it once again came down to how you did on the start and avoiding collisions in the first corner,” said Foust, who was seeded sixth but finished second in the first heat and won the second to advance to the nine-car final. “Second never feels great, but I am glad to be on the podium again.
“Topi had a great start. I thought I was gaining on him, but with three laps to go I got a puncture on the front left tire,” continued Foust. “I didn’t realize I had a puncture until I went through the water and was instantly sideways at the top of fifth gear going 100 mph. That’s when I knew there was something wrong and from then on it was a matter of managing the position in second and keeping ahead of the rest of the field.”
Atlanta’s 10-corner layout ran clockwise, utilizing much of the tri-oval and pit road sections of the track. The tabletop jump returned to the oval frontstretch, while two long straightaways made horsepower a key factor throughout the night.
Ford Fiestas made up six of the nine spots in the final and won all six preliminary heat races before Heikkenen capped the night with his history-making performance. In addition, Ford has now claimed 17 out of a possible 21 podium finishes through seven races, including six victories.