Toomas “Topi” Heikkinen secured the 2013 Global Rallycross (GRC) championship on Sunday after finishing in third place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Known for his exceptional speed all year long, it comes as no surprise that he was able to win the crown well ahead of schedule, with one more race remaining in the season. While Topi’s consecutive winning streak comes to an end, he continues to be the only driver to podium in every race this year.
After Topi’s victory at the last GRC race in Atlanta over a month ago, everyone knew that he would become this year’s champion by simply starting the final in Charlotte. So the only question remaining was whether anyone could finally put an end to Topi’s historic five-race winning streak. Lo and behold, some bad mojo began to rear its ugly head during qualifiers when Topi blew a tire and was unable to win his heat. The young Finn had to battle it out in the nerve-racking Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) to earn a spot in the final. But multiple accidents in the LCQ involving Tanner Foust, the only driver with the mathematical possibility of catching up to Topi in the standings, forced officials to cancel the heat, allowing Topi and the other two remaining vehicles to advance.
The Dirt Track at the Charlotte Motor Speedway made for a predictably messy final that required an early restart. Due to his troubles during the qualifying heats, Topi found himself at the back of the starting grid, which ended up working in his favor when the chaos began. On the fourth turn of the first lap, most of the field collided in a huge cloud of dust. To catch up, Topi approached the pileup from the rear and then, in true no-limits fashion, busted out of the side barricade to get around the crash and rejoin the race before red flags went up to halt the action and clear the debris.
At the restart, Scott Speed was given the lead because he was leading prior to the red flags, and Topi had to start at the end of the pack. At this point, Topi was already aware that he was the 2013 GRC champion; yet, he still went on to display his relentless desire to win. Speed set the pace throughout the race in the first position, as Topi went to work passing one competitor after another from the back. Charging hard, he used his Joker lap to his advantage in the third lap and overtook Ken Block for third place. But his pursuit ended there, as Speed simply had too large of a lead for Topi to overtake.
With this win, Speed now owns two top finishes this season and is the first driver in nearly three months to finish a race ahead of Topi. After the race, Topi reflected, "It's been a great year. Now we get the championship with the one point that we needed. But I'm still looking forward and want to win the last one.”
The final race of the season will be held in Las Vegas on November 7th. It will be something of a victory lap for Topi, but there’s no doubt he’ll be looking to finish in first.