Here’s a question for you. Through the first three rounds of this Global Rallycross Championship season, what has Samuel Hubinette done that no other driver has accomplished?
Give up? The answer is win a heat race on all three tracks – Texas, Charlotte, and X Games.
That’s right. Coming into X Games, Hubinette was part of an exclusive club that included only four drivers – the other three being Olsbergs MSE teammates Marcus Gronholm, Tanner Foust, and Brian Deegan. But even driving for privateer Scott-Eklund Racing, and even with a larger Saab 9-3 (part of Olsbergs’ success lies in the smaller, quicker Ford Fiesta), Hubinette managed to score one heat win each at Texas and Charlotte.
Deegan matched Hubinette, winning once at each track, while Gronholm and Foust had each won all three of their heat races coming into X Games. But each would encounter problems in Los Angeles that Hubinette would not.
Gronholm, of course, missed Sunday’s events due to injuries from his Saturday practice crash. Foust was no match for eight-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb in heat two, while Deegan fell to an aggressive first-turn move from Sverre Isachsen in heat three, and both finished second.
Hubinette, meanwhile, beat fastest qualifier and eventual silver medalist Ken Block to the corner in the first heat and ran relatively unchallenged from there. That gave him a front row starting spot in the final, though Loeb’s heat-winning time had been faster, giving the Frenchman the inside line and helping to aid him in his gold medal-winning run.
Hubinette, meanwhile, suffered damage and fell to ninth. Luckily for him, however, he’ll ride into New Hampshire in a tie for fourth in points, only 15 back of championship leader Foust. With a little bit of luck and a strong run, Hubinette can set himself up for a championship challenge in the final rounds of the season.
- Chris Leone