Exclusive: Millen Talks About Creation, Development of Formula Cross

Image via Formula Cross Facebook

“With countless feeder series already in place to support the likes of Indy Car, Formula 1 and NASCAR,” the reads, “it only made sense that Formula Cross fill in the missing gaps in the world of rally and rallycross.” That’s true, but there’s much more to the project than that—Rhys Millen Racing’s ambitious conversion project turns any ATV into a fully functional car that both corresponds to the driving experience of larger vehicles and allows riders to continue enjoying their ATVs with additional safety benefits, all at a reasonably inexpensive price point.

We talked to Rhys Millen at length about the inspiration behind the Formula Cross project, as well as the results of testing and some of the details about the conversion process. Thus far, he suggests, the project has been overwhelmingly positive, and those interested in the vehicle can expect multiple models, and perhaps a racing series, very soon:

Where did the inspiration behind the Formula Cross concept come from?

(laughs) The inspiration came from about six or seven years ago, breaking my back on a quad, parking it in my garage since then, and multiple years walking past it not really wanting to sell it. And then a few years ago, probably three plus years ago, looking at the quad in a different light, that perhaps this can be stretched and changed into a driving experience. Taking into consideration the safety element of incorporating a cage and seat and so forth as an extension of the driving experience, but with safety.

Image via Formula Cross Facebook

After kind of mentioning the idea to a couple of people, I heard very similar stories—riders had become a little older, they’d been hurt on them, their wives wouldn’t go near them, or their kids were becoming teenagers and wanted to ride quads and the parents didn’t want them anywhere near them. So in hearing all of that, I kind of started to commit to the thought, and this year in January we decided to develop this vehicle. And I think it was a shock to us on how well balanced, how amazing the driving experience was, and how much car control you could pick up, both from throttle control and steering, that would translate to a full-sized vehicle.

When did work on the project start? How far into the development process was the vehicle when you unveiled it to the world last month?

We started the project January 1 after laying out multiple sorts of designs, but the fabrication started then. It went into a four to six month sort of test phase once it was produced, while the body and everything was being developed as well in our composite shop. And we were going out doing multiple setups, balancing the chassis and drivability and so fort for handling until we started production on the vehicles which will be available here shortly. And it’s been received very, very well.

We’ve had multiple people drive it, from top ATV riders in the US to friends of mine that run the Ducati 1205 bikes up Pikes Peak and NASCAR drivers and rally guys, and some of my good stunt friends as well. Even my father’s been in it, and he loves it. And the feedback has all been positive. Over that testing period of some 400-plus miles, we never had one mechanical, and the whole package has proven to be very capable as a driving tool and a very exciting experience behind the wheel.

Image via Formula Cross Facebook

For those who are looking to buy the kit and install it themselves, how long does the process take, and how complex is the conversion?

It’s offered in several manners. The first would be, if you are a current ATV owner of the Yamaha models, which we’re starting with first—the 2004 and up 450, 660, and 750 Raptor—the retail on our kit is $7500, and it will take you about 20 hours to flip everything over. So (it’s) a two, two and a half day thing, comfortably, and utilizing about 90 percent of the production vehicle. If you’re not mechanically inclined, not a do-it-yourself kind of person, we also offer a service in house to make you a turn-key model that can either be based off a vehicle you own, a used vehicle that can be found on Craigslist or eBay or wherever, or the third option is to go to a local distributor/dealer and purchase a new vehicle that can be brought to us and we can do that transformation as well.

You’ve done plenty of demo days at tracks like Adams Motorsports Park and Pikes Peak. When are you planning for the next one, and will it be open to the public?

Image via DirtFish Rally School Facebook

We’ve fit one more day in there as well—we took it up to DirtFish Rally School in the Seattle area and had their instructors run it over there as consideration as a stepping stone into a full-size rally car. There was a lot of interest expressed up there as well. But now we’re very happy with what we’ve been out to achieve. Our testing phase is done, and now we’re really focused into production over the next couple of months.

We will release some more videos, and the main focus next is going to be showing the diversity of the vehicle. We can put paddle tires on this vehicle and take it out to Pismo Beach or up to Glamis; you can put full dirt tires on it and go romping through the desert. So that’s kind of going to be the focus, showing the diversity of the chassis, with its built-in different ride heights to be able to allow the driver not only a fixed experience like a go-kart does on a smooth surface on a specific track, (but) a diversity to take this in different locations with different surfaces and enjoy the vehicle in that manner.

You’re planning on creating a series for the Formula Cross kart—when can we expect to hear details on that?

You know, there’s been more developments than we’ve kind of given credit for on the platform. The interest level has definitely surpassed the timeframes that we thought would come about. Probably the most exciting this is that everyone wants one to race one, or a good 90-plus percent of the people. With that in mind, we’ve been approached by some already existing sanctioning bodies that run karting national series and so forth that look to add this as a class, and then some others that are based around the ATV world. So the interest level is there, even without ourselves forming a sanctioning body or sanctioning series. So we are focusing on specific designs that are safe for the chassis construction, and also considering a set of rules to allow these sanctioning bodies to implement the vehicles into their current setups.

- Chris Leone

Interview: Millen Breaks Down Record-Setting Pikes Peak Weekend

Image via Rhys Millen Racing

Rhys Millen is one of the all-time legends of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, having taken class victories in three different decades with some of the automotive industry’s most prominent manufacturers. But his greatest accomplishment on the mountain came this year, when he brought his Time Attack Hyundai Genesis to the top of the mountain in 9:46.164, a new all-time record.

Of course, such an accomplishment doesn’t come easily, as Millen had to contend with other quick competitors, dropping down from the Unlimited class, and the first year of a fully paved racing surface in order to set his record time. We spoke to Rhys about the victory, the unique challenges of this year’s event, and the ever-present issue of safety on the mountain:

Last year, you weren’t running in the Time Attack class, but your father Rod took the class victory in the Genesis. Was that the same car that you took to victory this year? Are there any major differences between the two iterations?

Image via Rhys Millen Racing

The car that my father ran the 2011 Pikes Peak Time Attack in was the same powertrain that I ran this year. The biggest change was there was no compromise in the setup. We had to go different spring rates, different sway bars, more of a rain tire or slightly gravel tire, and several different things. He ran the Euro as well on the car. And what was probably the biggest advantage, why it went so fast with me behind the wheel this year, is we just focused on a full kind of road race, tarmac setup. And surprisingly enough, for a production car, even if you put it against Nobuhiro Tajima’s overall winning time last year on the pavement sections, we were actually equal to his times if not faster going with that tarmac setup in a production.

You’re one of the all-time legends of the mountain, having taken class victories in three different decades, so you’ve known the course through plenty of variation. Now that the entire course is paved, does it have a significantly different character, and do you have to drive it differently?

You know, it’s interesting. The road has always held this mystique of the altitude you’re climbing to, 14,110 feet, I think that’s changed to five feet higher now. And it’s always quoted as having 156 corners. I also think that, with the pavement now, there’s probably more corners there because the road is narrower, and in some cases where it used to be straight line from corner to corner, you actually need to do an additional curve between those straightaways. So the characteristic of the road surface has definitely become more consistent and readable.

The challenges in the past with the dirt were you had to track down a clean line or a blue groove and really race the road. Now that the road is more consistent, you’re really having to pay attention to what your competitors are doing, because the experience of running on the road before is nowhere near as much of an advantage because the road is so consistent. The challenges are still there, but they present themselves in different manners.

It wasn’t very long ago that the 10-minute barrier seemed unreachable at Pikes Peak, but you shattered it with this year’s run. How significant of an achievement is that to you? Do you consider it one of your all-time finest achievements?

Image via Rhys Millen Racing

Yeah, for sure, it probably has to be the highlight of my career, and for many cases. Our effort this year dropped down a couple of classes to focus on Hyundai’s performance of their production vehicles. We were not running in the top category, Unlimited, but we were very confident in the package that we had developed over the years with this vehicle that it was going to be extremely quick. With that in mind, with the focus on a class win throughout the course of the week, it kind of developed and exposed itself that this car was running as quick as I thought it was in pre-event testing.

And although we would never be in contention for an overall victory with some of the fast Unlimited cars participating, if there were only two of the six that were participating in Unlimited that were a threat to us—or we were a threat to them, however you want to look at it (laughs)—and if they had issues on the day, unlike other forms of motorsport, like Daytona 24 Hours or so forth, where a tier two, tier three class, if you play it smart, have a little bit of luck, and put on a solid drive, you can win overall, and that’s what we capitalized on.

You beat second place Romain Dumas by less than a tenth of a second. Were you paying attention to Romain’s run, or the runs of any of the other drivers, and did any of them worry you before or after you took to the track?

We were paying attention to everyone, even though we were confident that we were the class of our field. We were elevating ourselves into the categories above us. Romain Dumas in the Porsche was setting some amazing times, and all week long we were within a second of him, bettering him in some sections where our car worked better and at a slight deficit in others where his worked better. The first day of practice was my first time really running the road race setup on the car on the top of the mountain and we had some issues with power performance, with the boost leak only making about six pounds of boost, and we typically make around twelve.

Image via Rhys Millen Racing

So the time difference that he beat me on the top section by, four seconds I believe it was, we were confident that we could make that up on race day. And, to be honest, the rest of the field—Nobuhiro Tajima with a new vehicle this year, we had him covered by some 20 seconds, and all of the open-wheel cars and stock cars as well. So the race was really between, for the overall, the four of us: Dumas in the Porsche in Pikes Peak Open, ourselves in Time Attack, and Paul Dallenbach and Jean-Philippe Dayraut in Unlimited.

This year’s event saw two major accidents with Jeremy Foley and Paul Dallenbach’s crashes, though neither driver was seriously injured. How do you feel about safety on the mountain? Is the additional pavement a positive or negative in that regard?

Image via Rhys Millen Racing

You know, I think in that event, safety is always number one before you leave the line. I always like to say, and especially tell my wife (laughs) that I leave six seconds on the course for safety, about half a second per mile. And it’s almost like you have to do that. This is not a road course where you’ve done multiple laps, the surface is consistent, and you get to see the race course. There’s a period of 24 hours or more where you never get to see the road, and in that 24 hours there can be thunderstorms, hail, rain, anything that can wash debris onto the road or anything. So if you commit to it 100-plus percent, you’re asking for the danger factor to be increased. We drive within the ability of the car and my control, but still drive very committed to put in a good time.

In the case of Foley’s crash, I would need to hear the navigator’s instructions to see if he led him in on the wrong part of the course, because it looked like he was going straight on a corner that was a tightening left, and it was shocking to see how far off line he really was for that particular corner. In the case of Paul, Paul has never had a bad crash up there. He’s a very conservative driver, drives a very similar style to myself and with that safety factor as well. Unfortunately it was a mechanical that put him off the road.

In the wake of this year’s record time, have you given any thought to the 2013 Hill Climb? Have you thought about changing classes, or trying to crack 9:45 in Time Attack?

Image via Rhys Millen Racing

Unfortunately, I’m not a multi-millionaire! We race with the support of sponsorship, and we needed to conform to what our sponsors did this year, or what they wanted to achieve out of it, which was a racing silhouette of the production vehicle that they sell. This combination that we won with this year is the Hyundai Genesis coupe, running an internally modified engine that comes with that car based on their 3.8-liter Hyundai Lambda V6. So it’s a credit to that combination—it is not a full race motor, the suspension points and many aspects of the car are still production based.

It’s a real credit to their having characteristics and the power that can be generated from their engines, even though we did turbocharge this one specifically for the competition. But yeah, if it was up to me personally, I definitely would have not stepped back out of Unlimited, and for sure my focus is trying to get back into Unlimited for next year to defend that title.

- Chris Leone

GRC Insider: Scott Compares European, American Rallycross

Image via Hazel PR

Only a handful of Global Rallycross Championship drivers also have experience racing in the European championship. Among that group is Andy Scott, who finished 11th in ERC points last year and currently ranks eighth in the GRC standings in the No. 26 Scott-Eklund Racing Saab 9-3.

Last year, Scott picked up his best finishes of the season in rounds at Duivelsbergcircuit in Belgium and Eurocircuit in Holland, finishing fourth and third, respectively. During the lengthy ERC sabbatical, he returned to those events this season with his No. 11 Tony Bardy Motorsport Ford Focus.

European loyalists may say that the ERC produces far superior racing, while American fans defend the GRC as a fresh and innovative interpretation of rallycross. We figured that the best way to settle the debate was to ask one of the drivers, and Scott was more than happy to oblige:

What are some of the major differences between ERC and GRC events? Is there a major adjustment, or is it just racing no matter what?

To an extent, it’s just racing no matter what. The difference in the European racing is you have the chance to improve the car between each time you run, because there’s a set format. You know at the start of the weekend when you’re going to be on track, how long you’re going to be on track for, and how long you have between each track outing. So that gives you the chance to improve the car. But also your competitors have that chance. The format in Global Rallycross, once you start racing, it’s all very fast. You’re running with the car that you’ve got, and you have to get the most (out) of it. So that’s the main difference. Obviously, you’ve got depth of field, there were 24 Supercars in Holland and there were probably 22 in Belgium. So even in heat races you’ve got good, stiff competition.

Photo credit: Qba Nitka/Image via Hazel PR

You drive a Saab 9-3 in GRC events and a Ford Focus in Europe. How long does it take to get acclimated with one after spending a lot of time in the other?

Apparently, from our lack of pace in Belgium, it takes a whole event! Personally, I don’t think it’s probably as bad as that. I mean, it’s a matter of looking at the data and making sure I’m shifting gears at the right RPMs. That’s the main difference—we have to short shift with the Ford because of the high torque, but with the Saab the power band is much higher up the rev range, so you don’t short shift with that. There’s a little bit of different technique in the corners, (depending upon) how much traction. It’s like riding a bicycle, it comes back to you pretty quick.”

American fans know Tanner Foust and Liam Doran because they compete in the GRC, but Europe offers its own field of challenging drivers. Who do you look out for the most when you race in Europe?

You have Timur Timerzyanov, the Russian driver, who’s currently leading the championship. There’s Davy Jeanney from France, who I think has great potential. He’s going to be a real force to be reckoned with for years to come. We have Mats Lysen from Norway, he’s a very young talented driver. Frode Holte from Norway, who was linked to at one time racing in the Global Rallycross Championship, but obviously his deal fell through at the last minute. I could go on and on, there are probably ten drivers capable of winning. It just depends on how the event goes on the day.

Photo credit: Qba Nitka/Image via Hazel PR

What’s the difference between the European fanbase and the new American fans?

The ERC fans, the European fans have been following the sport, maybe, for years, so they’re very knowledgeable on the format of the races and most of them know all the drivers. They’re regular hardcore rallycross fans that follow the sport all the time, whereas in the US we’re bringing on a new fanbase that’s just experiencing rallycross in some cases for the first time. They’re equally as enthusiastic, but I don’t think they’ve got the sport down. (laughs) They’re still learning the format, it’s a new, fresh sport for them, whereas in Europe the championship’s been going for a lot of years. You see a good lot of spectators following the European rounds.

You were able to compete at Belgium and Holland because of the gap in the GRC schedule. Will you be racing any more between now and the next GRC event? Will the early September event run as planned?

I think for certain the next US race will be Las Vegas, I don’t hear anything happening before that. I’m going to race in Loheac, in France, on the first weekend of September, which is not part of the European championship. It’s a French national race. But it always attracts a crowd of 40,000 spectators and it’s the biggest race on the European calendar outside of the ERC. There could be 20 plus Supercars at it, and all very competitive—the French championship is probably one of the strongest in Europe. So we’re certainly going there the first weekend of September. Then it’ll be preparations for Las Vegas after that. I’m not sure yet about the program with the team, whether I’ll get time to test the car prior to Vegas. I probably don’t, but we’re hoping the format of the event is that we do get full practice time on the circuit so we can familiarize ourselves again.

- Chris Leone

Image via Formula Cross Facebook

While Rhys Millen was busy conquering this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the California-based Rhys Millen Racing team had another priority as well: demonstrating the initial Formula Cross prototype for fans and prospective competitors.

Internationally renowned stunt driver Greg Tracy, a six-time Pikes Peak class winner in various motorcycle classes, was among those to wheel the Yamaha-based 450YFC model in private testing before the event. Tracy’s son Lane, as well as fellow PPIHC competitor Layne Schranz, took turns in the new vehicle.

The test session was somewhat of a good luck charm for everyone involved. Millen set an all-time record in climbing up the mountain with a time of 9:46.164, while Tracy finished fourth overall with a time of 9:58.262 while competing in the 1205 (motorcycle) class. Schranz also took the victory in the Super Stock Car class, taking the victory over 15-time class winner Clint Vahsholtz by 15.580 seconds.

Formula Cross continues to take pre-orders for the 450YFC model. The kit price is $7,500, with a $2,500 deposit and installation services available. Specifications and ordering information are available on the Formula Cross .

- Chris Leone

Stadium Super Trucks Announces Tentative 2013 Schedule

Image via Stadium Super Trucks Facebook

After months of testing and anticipation, and just weeks before the series debuts at Crandon International Raceway, Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks has announced a tentative 10-race schedule for the 2013 season.

The schedule includes confirmed events in Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Atlanta, as well as a season finale in an as-yet-unconfirmed location in Nevada in November. The full schedule is as follows:

  • April 8, 2013: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
  • April 19: California (venue TBA)
  • April 27: Los Angeles Coliseum
  • May 4: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
  • May 18: Qualcomm Stadium
  • June 8: Missouri (venue TBA)
  • June 22: Minnesota (venue TBA)
  • July 6: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
  • July 27: Texas (venue TBA)
  • November: Nevada (venue TBA)

The states with as-yet-unconfirmed venues all have multiple options for the stadium-based series. Many of the events could take place in stadiums that host supercross events; Missouri offers the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Minnesota has the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, and Nevada features Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Texas, meanwhile, offers two options: Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and Reliant Stadium in Houston.

As for the unconfirmed California event, another appearance at Los Angeles Coliseum is an option. Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, Oakland’s O.co Coliseum, and Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium all host supercross events and could be converted as well.

More details should become available on the series as it closes in on its debut event at Crandon. Fans looking for updates on the series can also sign up for its newsletter, which can be found .

- Chris Leone

Image via Rhys Millen Facebook

Global Rallycross competitor Rhys Millen is one of the busiest men in motorsports this year, as he has also competed in Formula Drift and launched a new off-road driver development vehicle program entitled Formula Cross.

But Millen almost always makes time on his schedule to compete in the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. After finishing second in class last year, Millen had something to prove in this year’s event, and prove it he did—he set a new course record.

Driving a Rhys Millen Racing-prepared 2WD Hyundai Genesis in the Time Attack class, Millen ascended the mountain in 9:46.164, beating Open class competitor Romain Dumas’ time by less than two tenths of a second. Both drivers shattered Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima’s record of 9:51.278, set in the Unlimited class last year.

For Millen, the win marked a triumphant return to Time Attack, after he took the first three victories in the class from 2007-09. Millen’s father Rod scored the class victory in a Genesis last year with a time of 11:04.912. The father-son duo now share 18 class victories in the famous event, while Rod’s brother Steve scored the family’s first Pikes Peak win in 1989.

The results weren’t quite as strong for Doran Motorsport, the other team with a GRC connection competing in the famous “Race to the Clouds.” Pat Doran, driving while son Liam competed in a European Rallycross event, campaigned a Ford RS200 in the Unlimited class in hopes of breaking Tajima’s record. But the car broke down in the second section of the course, meaning neither Doran would finish his race this weekend; Liam crashed in a heat race in the Dutch ERC event and failed to score points.

- Chris Leone

Image via Rhys Millen Racing Facebook

The Global Rallycross Championship won’t return to Pikes Peak International Raceway in 2012, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any GRC influence in Colorado this year. In fact, multiple GRC drivers and teams will take on the 12.42-mile Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this season.

Perhaps the biggest name involved is Rhys Millen, whose team will campaign a Hyundai Genesis sponsored by Pulse and Hankook Tires in the Time Attack class. Millen has taken nine career Pikes Peak class victories, including three consecutive 2WD Time Attack victories from 2007-09. Rhys’ father, Rod, took the class victory last year in a Genesis, setting a class record time of 11:04.912 that Rhys will hope to beat. Rhys finished second in last year’s event in the Unlimited class.

As for Unlimited, two teams with GRC links will take on that class this year, with the first led by longtime American rally competitor Jimmy Keeney. Keeney, who has previously competed at Pikes Peak in the Open Wheel class, will drive a brand new Chevrolet Colorado in this year’s event. So far, the longtime independent Subaru rally driver has only competed in one GRC round this year, failing to score any points at Texas.

Photo credit: Larry Chen; image via Liam Doran Facebook

2011 X Games gold medalist Liam Doran was originally scheduled to compete at Pikes Peak before wildfires delayed the event from July to this weekend. Doran elected to skip the event to continue challenging for the European Rallycross Championship title, so father Pat—himself one of Britain’s most successful rallycross drivers of all time—will take the helm of the Doran Motorsport Ford RS200 in the event. Doran’s car won the 2000 German Hillclimb Championship with driver Dieter Knuttel behind the wheel.

Other drivers with GRC associations have also tamed Pikes Peak. Per Eklund set a still-standing record of 11:21.580 in the Open class in 2000, and added an Unlimited class victory in 2002. Travis Pastrana (Group X, 2004), Tanner Foust (Production GT, 2005), and Stephan Verdier (Production GT, 2004; Open, 2005) have all scored class wins in various Rally divisions. Finally, Olsbergs MSE’s Marcus Gronholm and Andreas Eriksson both took on the mountain in Unlimited Ford Fiestas in 2009; Gronholm finished second in the class, while Eriksson failed to finish the run.

- Chris Leone

Image via Stadium Super Trucks Facebook

For the majority of the 2012 racing season, multi-talented racing legend Robby Gordon has been developing his Stadium Super Trucks, an indoor off-road racing concept based on the long-defunct Mickey Thompson Racing Series of the 1980s and 1990s. After multiple testing days and shakedown runs by such well-known drivers as J.R. Hildebrand, Brian Deegan, and Samuel Hubinette, Gordon is finally ready to debut the trucks in race trim.

Six of Gordon’s new vehicles will take part in the Stadium Super Trucks Race of Champions during Labor Day weekend at Crandon International Raceway in Wisconsin. The SST event will support the Traxxas TORC Series, which features Bryce Menzies in its 2WD division and has seen appearances by Travis Pastrana and Matt Crafton this year.

Currently, a driver roster for the SST event has not been announced, though the series promises elite talent. Gordon will likely be competing, with the majority of other drivers likely coming from off-road backgrounds. Over a dozen drivers showed up for Gordon’s test session in July, including TORC 4×4 points leader Ricky Johnson and Pro Light leader Andrew Caddell. Meanwhile, the rival Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is off that weekend, while Global Rallycross’ decision to push its September 1 race date back by two weeks may free Deegan and Hubinette to compete.

Gordon is planning for a 10-race season in 2013, with events at the Los Angeles Coliseum and University of Phoenix Stadium among those on the schedule.

- Chris Leone

Image via Volkswagen Motorsport Facebook

Global Rallycross Championship fans will have another reason to smile in 2013, as Volkswagen has officially announced their intent to campaign the Polo in the third year of the championship.

Jost Capito, VW’s new motorsports director and a key figure in the launch of the Fiesta Mk7 during his time with Ford, was also the force behind the launch of the Polo. He attended X Games in July and enjoyed the intensity of the racing, as well as the prospect of European X Games events at Barcelona and Munich next May and June, respectively.

Meanwhile, VW marketing boss Stefan Moser has praised rallycross as easier for fans to enjoy than stage rally. Unlike the World Rally Championship, where VW will debut a Polo for driver Sebastien Ogier next season, fans are able to watch door-to-door racing and multiple cars on track at the same time.

With their intent firmly established, VW will need to look into establishing a driver and team lineup for their new operation.

Photo credit: Jeremy Tanner

Though Olsbergs MSE is firmly intertwined with Ford, with the pair holding four of the top five spots in the championship, there’s a chance that Capito’s relationship with Olsbergs principal Andreas Eriksson could lead to something. Capito was a key figure in Olsbergs’ development of two Fiestas in the 2009 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, one for Marcus Gronholm and one for Eriksson.

If not Olsbergs, there are plenty of other talented GRC drivers that VW can attempt to lure away from established teams. Though contract details are scarce, it’s imagined that few drivers are locked up to long-term deals, and the chance to be a team’s top driver could be enough reason for somebody to bolt.

Sverre Isachsen, for example, has to be disappointed in his 12th place in points with Subaru, especially after coming off of three consecutive European championships. Meanwhile, a VW ride could be just the opportunity that a privateer like Jimmy Keeney or Pat Moro needs to break into the series full-time.

Image via Marklund Motorsport

VW could also look to Europe for answers. Ingvar Gunnarsson Motorsport has reportedly been developing a Polo SuperCar since April for Marklund Motorsport and Anton Marklund to campaign in the European Rallycross Championship next year. Marklund currently leads the Touring Car division of the ERC with 105 points.

- Chris Leone

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish

No. 81 Puma Subaru Impreza, Subaru Puma Rallycross Team

STANDINGS: 15th, 19 points

POSITIVES: Nobody expected Lasek to shock the world in his first full-time rallycross season. But nobody expected him to keep the car mostly clean either, something that he’s been able to do in race conditions save for missing the jump in his last chance qualifier at Texas.

NEGATIVES: It’s a bad thing when you’re the only full-time driver in the series to fail to make it to a final round, a dubious honor that currently belongs to the skateboarding legend. It’s even worse when Sebastien Loeb, who only raced at X Games, still has more points than you in the standings.

OUTLOOK: Lasek hasn’t finished better than 11th all year, and he won’t unless he gets incredibly lucky in a heat race and finishes second. Bringing up the rear of the field isn’t a familiar concept to the Maryland native, who has won many skateboarding medals and the 2006 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. But everyone involved is aware that this is somewhat of a learning year, and Lasek should come back stronger for the 2013 season.

- Chris Leone

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