Red Bull GRC Takes off at Aviation Muesum

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Photos by Sean Sisk and Andre Gagne

Red Bull may not really give you wings but it sure looked like it this past weekend when, for the first time in its seven-year history, Red Bull Global Rallycross took off in Ottawa. On Saturday, June 17 and Sunday, June 18, Red Bull GRC brought a very unique experience to Ottawa, for two rounds of action at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. The event is part of the Ottawa 2017 calendar, a year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The Red Bull Global Rally Car Series, is a self-owned rallycross series run in the United States. Started as Global RallyCross, and the series has gained a fair amount of commercial success. The events are run with heavily modified production cars called Rallycross Supercars. They're kind of like dune buggies with snap-on covers, and are run at a wide range of venues from NASCAR speedways to street courses and commonly feature a mix of dirt and asphalt.

Originally a made-for-TV sport that debut in the 60’s, rallycross officially debuted in the 2010 X Games XVI.

With a great set up and the smell of racing fuel, the crowds came out in droves and the heats started. 

A little info about rallycross cars. Global Rallycross Supercars roll out of the factory as production models, but receive significant improvements to chassis, engines, and safety features to bring them up to racing spec. GRC vehicles are incredibly versatile; they produce 600 horsepower and can accelerate from 0–60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds with the help of All Wheel Drive powering all 4 wheels at the same time. They're also built to withstand 70-foot jumps and contact with other vehicles. Unlike many other racing series, they also do not feature the aid of electronic traction aids. Ford Motor Company, Subaru, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Chevrolet and Honda serve as manufacturers, fielding the Fiesta ST, WRX STi, Beetle, Polo R, Veloster Turbo, Sonic and Civic respectively.

The tracks vary from between half a mile and a mile in length, and feature a mixture of dirt and tarmac, as well as various other obstacles. The track in Ottawa is staged on the same airfield used by the Rockcliffe Flying Club. The 0.762-mile course puts the action directly in front of the fans with a finish line in the dirt section directly at the jump.

Something a little different with GRC from other races is the Joker Lap. What is it you ask? Each course is equipped with two routes: the main route, and the joker lap route, which each driver must only take once per race.

The GRC joker lap route typically shortens the length of the track significantly, forcing a driver to make strategic decisions about when to take it. On one hand, taking it on the first lap allows a driver to get it over with; on the other, waiting until the end of the race can allow a driver to gain positions before the finish. Depending on venue, the joker lap route may have additional obstacles which significantly slow the cars down, thus making the main route faster. 

The crowds showed for a great event. It had amazing access to the drivers, teams and cars, which were often on display or being worked on in the middle of everything going on. You got to walk the paddock, get up close the cars, and watch the teams prep and drive the cars to the track and back. You could even walk by and smell the teams' BBQ. 

The races had clear sight lines with close seats. The fans at GRC are really part of what makes the experience. They are right in the middle of it all with the teams, providing everyone with a very unique experience. For car enthusiasts, it was for sure a blast. 

In Saturday’s action Steve Arpin became the first repeat winner of the 2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross season with a thrilling victory. The lone Canadian in the field, Arpin’s victory came in the series' first-ever Canadian round.

Ottawa Life's Andre Gagne and Tanner Foust

In Sunday’s action Tanner Foust got the win n the Super Cars. Ottawa Life web-editor Andre Gagne got to experience his driving first hand in a thrilling lap around the track on Friday. His stomach is still somewhere in Kanata. 

In the GRC Lites, French rallycross talent Cyril Raymond continued his domination of the class with another doubleheader sweep.

It was a great few days at the track and a very unique event for  Canada’s  sesquicentennial.

Created to produce the most exciting action in all of motorsport, Red Bull Global Rallycross combines the best elements of stage rally, off-road and circuit racing in a fan-friendly environment. International superstars battle wheel-to-wheel over dirt, gravel, and the series’ signature 70-foot jump behind the wheel of 600 horsepower Supercar.

They succeeded and it will defiantly be a remember event from Canada’s 150th Birthday party.