The first round of the 2012 Global Rallycross Championship was a disappointing one for Travis Pastrana. Despite coming into the event as a popular pick for the win, he suffered accidents in both his first heat race and the final that limited him to an eighth place finish. Coming into Hoon Kaboom Texas, the second round of the season, Pastrana has aspirations for major improvement in the #199 Discount Tire/Red Bull Dodge Dart – even in the wake of another incident in qualifying.
“As far as racing in my first rallycross in a while, I felt that we did well,” Pastrana said of his Charlotte experience. “We put ourselves in position to win the final, and I hadn’t raced against the guy that was driving fourth there (Toomas Heikkinen). I definitely know that he’s a very aggressive driver, and we’ll be watching out for that this weekend.
“He actually took a few people out, and we were all on the side of the road in the same corner and side of the track, so he actually got black flagged. And it was good for us to see what the series (did), how aggressive they will tolerate, as well as who’s going to be more aggressive on the course. And I’m definitely one of the more aggressive drivers.”
Though he crashed his primary car on the new gap jump during qualifying earlier today, Pastrana feels that the additional feature offers him a fantastic opportunity to make up time on the field.
“Honestly, the entire field’s going to be within a second,” Pastrana admits. “If you can come at the jump a little more aggressively, use some of the motorcycle skills where you can not necessarily scrub the jump with the car – they call it a scrub, staying low – but you can actually charge into the jump, get on the brakes at the last second as you’re about to get off, and then give it a little bit of throttle at the top to keep that front end in the air.
“I feel like I have a lot more experience flying a car, so we should be able to, depending on how the course is built, make up maybe a quarter to a half a second on most guys just on how you enter the jump. Most guys will go to a certain speed and not go past that speed and stay there all the way off the jump to make sure they don’t miss it.
“So hopefully this, with (my) jumping background, will give me a little bit of an advantage.”
While his crew is working diligently to fix the primary car, Pastrana has done laps in the backup to become acclimated to the track. That car is scheduled to be raced by Portugal’s Filipe Albuquerque, a veteran of numerous European formulae and touring car series. Albuquerque’s first laps in the car came in qualifying, and he will be seeded 14th.
For all of the bad luck that has plagued the start to his GRC season, however, Pastrana remains characteristically upbeat about his car and race prospects. “Honestly, we only had one day of testing coming into Charlotte with (it). It’s a brand new car. But the motor is really, really good. We found out a few things just on durability that are really, really simple, and just how I can be less aggressive in certain spots and more aggressive in certain areas.
“You know, it is what it is, and we’ll figure it out coming into this next round. I feel like we have a really good chance at getting on top of the podium.”
- Chris Leone