New England race fans are in for an exciting weekend, as Red Bull Global Rallycross is set to host a doubleheader at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Rallycross is a relatively novel category in the United States, so for many New Englanders, this Saturday and Sunday’s Red Bull GRC races will be their first exposure to the sport. Given how different GRC is from traditional racing categories, there are a few things those people need to know before heading to the track.
Rallycross cars don’t look like the racers most Americans are familiar with. They start out life as a compact production car, such as a Subaru WRX STI or Ford Fiesta ST, but are fitted with things such as long-travel suspension.
GRC divides cars into two classes, Supercars and Lites, with the former being the top tier of the series. Supercars are fitted with 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines that produce 600 horsepower. That’s enough to propel them to 60 mph in roughly 1.9 seconds, which is faster than a Formula One car.
While most categories compete on all tarmac, or all dirt, rallycross uses tracks that have a mix of both. The track that GRC will run on at Thompson makes use of the oval and road course as well as a long dirt section. In addition, GRC includes a 70-foot jump in every course.
GRC tracks also have an alternate route known as the Joker Lap, which is shorter than the full course. Each driver must take this one time during each race.
Rather than one long race at the end of the weekend, GRC has multiple races throughout the day. Drivers will participate in a morning qualifying session to set the grids for the first of three rounds of five-lap heats.
Following the heat races, there are two six-lap semifinals, from which the three fastest drivers will advance to the 10-lap final. All remaining drivers take part in a last chance qualifier (LCQ) to determine who gets the final four spots in the main event.
Thumbnail photo via Red Bull Content Pool