Many American rally fans recognize Subaru as the pre-eminent manufacturer of rally cars in the world, given the long-standing successes of Imprezas both home and abroad. That good fortune hasn’t translated into results in the Global Rallycross Championship this year, however, as rival manufacturer Ford has been burning up the time charts and snapping up the majority of podiums all season.
In fact, not until Sverre Isachsen’s dive-bomb into the first turn of his heat race from the outside lane at X Games had a Subaru been in position to win a heat race, which the three-time defending European Rallycross champion eventually did. But from there, everything seemingly went downhill.
The bad luck began as early as the very first heat, when contact with Ken Block helped rip off the front end of team leader Dave Mirra’s car. The damage was so deep that when Mirra went out for his last chance qualifier run, he had to pull off almost immediately, his car rendered useless. He finished a disappointing 14th, missing the final for the second round in a row.
Bucky Lasek’s learning experience continued in Los Angeles as he finished a distant third, outside of a transfer spot, in his heat, and unlike Stephan Verdier’s Hyundai, was unable to close in on Liam Doran’s Citroen in the last chance qualifier. In the end, he was listed 13th.
Isachsen took a front row starting spot into the final by virtue of his victory, but on the first attempted start took bumper damage that proved too much for the car to handle after the jump. Isachsen’s disabled car sat in the dirt section, blocking off the track, and for the second race in a row, he finished 10th in the final after losing his car on the first start.
Ironically, it was David Higgins, the lone participant these days in Subaru’s stage rally program, who scored the best finish overall. Higgins managed to avoid Travis Pastrana and Andy Scott’s wreck in the fourth heat, drove safely to second place to advance, and managed to come home in seventh place in the final despite throttle issues.
Coming into this week’s event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, no Subarus are in the top ten in points. Isachsen’s 19 points are good for 11th through three rounds, a de facto 10th place as Sebastien Loeb is unlikely to compete again this season, but Mirra ranks 13th with 16 and Lasek ranks 15th with 13. For a team that came into the season with such high expectations and fanfare, 2012 has been a rough year for the Vermont SportsCar-prepared organization, and Loudon represents one of minimal opportunities to turn the season around.
- Chris Leone