Sunday was the final day of the X Games 15 in Los Angeles and for gearheads like us, the schedule saved the best for last.
Following Saturday’s Moto X comp, the course inside the Home Depot Center was leveled and new the rally course was constructed in its place. By Sunday morning, the course was complete and the teams entered the Home Depot Center for morning practice.
Up until this point the Ford Fiesta teams had dominated on the tarmac, but many wondered how the Fords would perform on the dirt section and most importantly how they’d fly over the massive gap – a centerpiece of X Games rallying.
Walking through the parking lot on the way in, it was clear just how popular X Games rally is these days. The WRX and Evo owners came out in hordes to watch the event, and I saw more people wearing Subaru and Mitsubishi T-shirts than I could count.
As coastal clouds hung over the stadium, the drivers fired up their cars for morning practice. This would be the first time for them to take the jump, so nobody really knew what to expect.
Some cars were able to run the course without incident, but others weren’t so lucky. Ken Block rolled his Impreza on the tarmac section, but his team was able to get it fixed in time for the competition. ACP in the NOS Evo landed the car on its nose, and it had to be taken to the pits for rush repairs.
At noon it was time for the first round of eliminations, where the non-seeded drivers would face each other for the chance to move on to the second round.
By this time the seats in the Home Depot Center were packed with spectators. From any part of the stadium one could have a nice view of the track, and this got me wondering what it would be like to see a Formula D event inside a big stadium like this…
After recovering from a crash on Friday, Jimmy Keeney’s day had an early end when he was defeated by Kenny Brack’s Ford Fiesta in the first match of the day.
It was another victory for Ford when Moto X rider and rally newcomer Brian Deegan outran veteran driver Matt Johnson’s WRX.
Andrew Comrie-Picard takes flight in the NOS Energy Drink Evo. He would eventually defeat Arkadiusz Gruszka’s Evo, but not after making another hard landing that tweaked the front end of his car. Still, it wasn’t as bad as ACP’s infamous front flip in ’08.
Next up Andi Mancin earned a place in the quarter-finals after narrowly defeating Piotr Wiktorczyk and his borrowed CG8 Impreza.
To kick off the quarterfinals, seeded driver Tanner Foust defeated Mancin’s Evo by a significant margin. You can see the lead that Tanner has early as they both cross the jump.
Next was another win for Ford after Kenny Brack advanced from an incredibly close battle with Dave Mirra’s Subaru.
The Subaru fans would have something to cheer about after the next match though. Travis Pastrana advanced from his battle with the NOS Evo after ACP hit the water barriers on the tarmac section.
Rounding out the quarterfinals were Ken Block and Brian Deegan in another Ford vs. Subaru battle.
Block the rally veteran was the favorite in this match-up, but his car lost power as he approached the jump – and instead of risking it he bypassed the ramp and earned a DQ. Deegan the rookie would move on. The semi-finals were set – it’d be the Fords of Deegan, Foust, and Brack vs. the lone Subaru of Travis Pastrana.
The first match of the semis was Ford vs. Ford when Tanner Foust battled Kenny Brack. The two were neck-and-neck until Tanner spun out late in his run. This costly mistake by Foust allowed Kenny Brack to secure the win and move onto the final. Tanner still had a chance to earn the bronze medal though, if his time was faster than the losing car in the next match.
That next match would be between Brian Deegan and Travis Pastrana. In a repeat of what happened to Ken Block, Deegan was unable to make the jump and was DQ’d from the race. Pastrana would advance to face his Brack in the final, and Tanner Foust secured the bronze medal due to Deegan’s DQ. Still, it was a very good weekend for Brian Deegan who doesn’t have a lot of experience driving rally cars.
And so, the final came down to former Indy 500 champion Kenny Brack in his Ford Fiesta…
…versus Moto X and now rally star Travis Pastrana in his Subaru Impreza.
After an incredibly tight battle through the first 75% of the course, Travis Pastrana hit the wall in the the entrance to the stadium, forcing his WRX to come to a stop. It wasn’t quite the nail-biting finish that we wanted to see, but it was a fitting end to a fantastic weekend for Kenny Brack and the whole Ford Racing team.
There’s Brack as he celebrates his gold medal win on the roof of his car. Silver would go to Pastrana and bronze would go to Tanner Foust.
After spending the weekend shooting the X Games, I think I’m hooked on rally.
More to come!