Photos: John Rettie
Because building the tabletop and finishing the remainder of the temporary track took most of the day, further practice and seeding did not get under way until 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Then there was an even worse accident late in the day when Marcus Grönholm, who won the first two GRC events, hit an exposed concrete base of a lamppost right after the jump. A front wheel was ripped off his car and the abrupt stop caused him to crash and black out. He was rushed to a hospital, where he regained consciousness soon after.
It had not been a good two days.
Bad luck for some can bring good luck for others. David Higgins, who currently leads the 2012 Rally America National Championship, was not scheduled to compete in the X Games this year. However, he was in attendance, helping SPRXT. He had planned on being a spotter for the team during the races.
With two drivers unable to race, Higgins, a reserve driver, was allowed to compete on Sunday. The team had a spare WRX STI – one that had been Bucky Lasek’s car in the previous two rounds. Lasek had a brand-new car, and his old car was being used for promotional runs. The mechanics quickly got to work and put in a race gearbox and fine-tuned the suspension settings in preparation for Higgins.
On race morning, the drivers and team managers walked around the track to make sure it was safe. A few concrete K-rails were moved and more tire barriers put in place at strategic locations. Unlike the NASCAR® racetracks in South Carolina and Texas where the previous two events had been run, the X Games track was very narrow and tight, with concrete barriers lining each side to keep cars from careening into trees and spectators.
Also unlike the first two tracks, the course did at least have a few dirt sections to make it more like an authentic rallycross event. The layout of the 0.7-mile course was essentially the same as last year, although it was run in the opposite direction.