This past weekend marked the exciting opening to the 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross season. Beachside Fort Lauderdale, FL was chosen as the scenic first venue after an impressive turnout at Daytona in 2014 proved just how much the sunshine state loves racing - and Florida didn't disappoint. Despite the heat and humidity, the season opener drew an enthusiastic, sold-out crowd.
Returning champion Joni Wiman was amped to get back on the track, overdue for some wins after his consistent driving earned him the 2014 title without ever making it to the top of the podium. With the third fastest qualifying lap on Saturday and a win in his first heat, it looked like the young Finn was going to have a strong start to the new season.
Unfortunately, a hard landing after a jump sent Wiman to the medic for a precautionary evaluation. He was back on the scene before the last chance qualifier and wanted to race, but was not cleared to rejoin the action by the series medical staff and subsequently received a DNF(did not finish). Though it was a crushing start to the season, the current champ has eleven races to climb back to the top of the points. With Wiman's talent, focus and determination, there's no doubt that we'll see a comeback from the kid.
Even with Wiman out of the final, Olsbergs MSE (OMSE) still had a player in the game. The team has a new rookie piloting a second Red Bull Bluebeam Ford Fiesta ST, rising star Sebastian Eriksson. Eriksson took second in the GRC Lites championship in 2013 and drove for RallyX Scandinavia in 2014. The young Swede has returned to Red Bull GRC for the 2015 season, but this time he's in a supercar.
Eriksson's performance in Fort Lauderdale made him look more like a seasoned vet than a supercar rookie. He took second in both of his heats and maneuvered his way through the final for a fourth place finish, seven points away from third place winner Nelson Piquet Jr. and seven points ahead of fifth place Tanner Foust. Between his contagious passion for the sport and his talent on the track, Eriksson definitely is one to watch this season.
At the weekend's close, Ken Block claimed the checkered flag in the final, flanked by second place Scott Speed and Piquet Jr. Overall, it was a successful event and a strong start to the season. Mercifully, fans don't have to wait long for more rallycross action-most of the Red Bull GRC lineup is competing in an exhibition race at the X Games this coming weekend in Austin, TX. Catch it on ABC and ESPN3 on June 6 from 2-6pm ET.