Thursday and Friday, practice is on pavement only — one lane at a time. The stadium floor won’t be set up until Sunday morning, so no dirt for a while.
Most of the 12 teams invited to this competition are on the track for the two-hour stint. They alternate between lanes, since the lanes aren’t connected.
Even today, practice is fierce. Although the track looks tight and confined, drivers are already pushing for higher speeds. Encounters with barriers are constant. The air is full of dust; sand; bits of rubber; and the smell of tires, brakes, and exhaust.
That “little” jump in the straight of the outside course gets the cars airborne far more than one would think. Block/Gelsomino are among those who stand cars on their noses.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 1, 2008
Two more hours of practice, but not everyone participates.
Competitors drift the turns with all drive wheels spinning. Rubber soon delineates the cornering lines — normal for paved tracks. And every once in a while, there’s a crunch of metal and plastic punching the barrier walls.
Through the chaos, one car appears unscathed — the #45 of McShea/Clarke. Just as impressive as the other cars on the Subaru factory team, #45 looks to be someone to beat.
The cars seem quicker today. The intensity among the teams grows. During most rally weekends, pressure builds stage after stage when trying to retain or make up time; this weekend, it builds during practice. There is only one “stage” in the bracket-type setup for race day. Once a car is eliminated, it’s gone.
If you followed any of the X Games 14 coverage, you probably noticed Subaru signage in the background. It was a heartening sight for a Subaru fan to see!
Subaru was a premier sponsor for X Games 14 and the official automobile. It made a 2009 WRX available for ESPN to give to the “Subaru Most Outstanding Athlete of the Games” — Big Air skateboarder Danny Way.
While sponsorship prompted exposure of the Subaru logo, it had other effects as well. One was the large display in The Home Depot Center’s fan zone, where spectators could collect posters and other freebies, pick up a cooled towel to help fight the heat, and take a look at the new 2009 Impreza WRX. WRX 4-door and 5-door models were on hand.
Subaru introduced the 2009 WRX at X Games 14. The event provided the perfect opportunity to debut the car — a whole new animal — for an audience appreciative of its increased horsepower and firmer suspension. (See driving impressions in this issue.)
For more about the 2009 Impreza WRX, go to www.subaru.com.
To see more images, click here.