On paper rallycross cars tick every box. Four-wheel-drive, 600bhp, and performance figures that make Formula 1 cars look somewhat pedestrian.
Rallycross races certainly showcase the potential of these magnificent machines, but in 2013 another major competition was held that further showed off the strengths of what rallycross cars had to offer.
US rallycross frontrunner Ken Block became a household name not by founding a hugely successful clothing firm or by competing in rallying events at a national and international level, but through his incredible series of ‘Gymkhana’ YouTube videos.
Following the success of the viral series, Gymkhana became a full-on competitive affair, and joined the roster of action sports competitions at the X Games in 2013. It didn’t do away with the rallycross-like events that had also been on the event’s bill, but rather it complimented them.
The compact Gymkhana Grid course laid out in the infield at Irwindale featured drifts, tight turns, a figure of eight section, donuts around obstacles and a flying finish, with two drivers at a time going head-to-head on identical, but opposing courses.
The frontrunners from the X Games 2013 rallycross field took part, with Tanner Foust and Patrik Sandell fending off the likes of Brian Deegan, Liam Doran, Stephan Verdier, Anton Marklund, and David Higgins en route to the final.
Foust got through despite being beaten in his semi-final by Doran, who received a couple of time penalties. Doran had beaten course designer and discipline pioneer Block earlier on at the quarter-final stage.
The final was a best-of-three affair, with Foust and Sandell facing off in identical Olsbergs MSE-prepared Ford Fiesta STs that they had been campaigning in that year’s Global Rallycross series.
Foust, whose CV also boasts a pair of drifting championships and numerous stunt driving credits in addition to his rallycross exploits, easily had the upper hand over Sandell. Both tore through the course in a precise fashion, but Foust was quicker, finishing his first run an entire course element ahead of his rival.
In the second run, Foust was again stronger, setting the best time of the entire competition on his second run and beating Sandell by over two seconds to wrap up the whole event one run early.
The next day, the Global Rallycross competition took place with Toomas Heikkinen beating Foust to claim the fourth victory in his record-breaking run of five consecutive event wins.
Gymkhana Grid didn’t return when X Games moved to Austin in 2014, and rallycross lasted just two more years until petrol-powered four-wheel competition was scrapped from the world’s premier action sports competition for good.
Watch highlights of the final between Foust and Sandell below: