In their 17th rendition, X Games took to the Staples Center and the surrounding area to award medals in sports that just one generation ago didn’t have formal competitions to compete in. Rally is relatively new to the X games circle, but has picked up steam in recent years. Joining X games legends like Travis Pastrana, Brian Deegan, and Dave Mirra, international drivers are now joining the mix. 2 years ago, Indy 500 champion Kenny Brack took top honors in the debut of the Ford Fiesta platform, but for 2011, 2-time WRC champion Marcus Gronholm stepped into the same former chassis Brack piloted to the win and joined a line-up which included 2-time FD champion Tanner Foust, 2005 FD champion Rhys Millen, internet phenom and WRC competitor Ken Block, European Rally champions Michael Jernberg and Liam Doran, and current Rally America champion Dave Higgins.
For the third time in three years, the track took on a new location and layout. In an effort to confine all competitions to a small area, the lone 4-wheeled competition in X Games took place in the streets just outside the Staples Center in downtown LA, marking the first time that the competition took place on city streets. The 0.6 mile track featured a 50-foot jump, with the optimal jumping speed estimated to be around 52 mph, but top speeds hitting just over 100 mph on the front straight. All of the top competition cars feature a launch-control system capable of sub 2-second 0-60 mph times, putting the driver thru massive g-forces.
The highlight of the weekend was X games legend Travis Pastrana breaking his leg in the Moto-X best trick competition, but pushing thru pain to compete in Rally X utilizing hand controls in his Subaru rally car. Pastrana was scheduled to compete in LA on Thursday night before flying to Indianapolis, IN for his debut in the Nationwide series and returning to LA for the Rally X competition, but the injury cut the flight to Indiana out of the plan.
On Saturday, X Games Rally competition featured two-car head-to-head heats of 2.5 laps in a single-elimination bracket. Although the Ford Fiesta’s were heavily favored, Euro champ Liam Doran piloted his Monster Energy drink Citroen C4 to the win, defeating Gronholm in the final and Foust in the Semifinal. In the bronze medal match, American Rally champion Dave Higgins earned the bronze when Foust’s Rockstar Ford Fiesta broke an axle off the line.
Sunday’s RallyX competition was fully independent of the Saturday bracket and featured 4-car heats in an all-out bumper-to-bumper free-for-all to earn the gold medal. The final 8-car field featured Foust’s Rockstar Fiesta, Deegan’s Rockstar Metal Mulisha Fiesta, Gronholm’s Best Buy Mobile Fiesta, and Doran’s Monster Citroen on the front row. The second row was highlighted by Travis Pastrana’s Boost Mobile Subaru, Dave Mirra’s Subaru, Dave Higgins’ Subaru, and Rhys Millen’s Red Bull Hyundai Velostar. In the end, Deegan took his first Rally car medal after his double-silver performance last year at the LA Coliseum behind Foust in both events. Foust took the silver, earning his 6th career X Games medal, with Gronholm making it an all-Fiesta podium. Amazingly, Pastrana was in the Bronze medal position after qualifying fifth in the seeding rounds before crashing out just a few turns away from the finish line.
Although the X Games version of Rally isn’t fully representative of the most traditional version of the sport, the entertainment factor is hard to deny. With amazing drivers competing beside some of the top names of the sport, X Games Rally remains one of the must-see motorsports events of the season.
Saturday – X Games Rally results:
Gold – Liam Doran – Monster Energy Drink Citroen C4
Silver – Marcus Gronholm – Best Buy Mobile Ford Fiesta
Bronze – David Higgins – Subaru SRT WRX
Sunday X Games Rally X results:
Gold – Brian Deegan – Monster Energy Drink Metal Mulisha Ford Fiesta
Silver – Tanner Foust – Monster Energy Drink Ford Fiesta
Bronze – Marcus Gronholm – Best Buy Mobile Ford Fiesta