Heikkinen Survives Wild Finish, Wins Loudon GRC

Heikkinen Survives Wild Finish, Wins Loudon GRC

LOUDON, N.H. – No matter the circumstances, the last turn of the last lap of Thursday’s Global Rallycross race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was going to be a doozy.

Tanner Foust had the lead going down the final straightaway, and fellow Ford Racing driver Toomas Heikkinen was a split-second behind, rolling along in Foust’s tire tracks.

As Foust approached the final turn, an elevated hard-right hairpin, he knew Heikkinen would try to make a last-chance pass on the inside. So Foust did what many laps of Rallycross racing had taught him — he moved to protect the inside.

And, at that instant, the race, which Foust had led from the first turn of the first lap, changed complexion. When Foust hit the brakes of his Fiesta ST to move toward the inside, he hit a mixture of gravel and sand entering the turn, and his car went into a sideways slide. From that point, he was simply along for the ride — and it had a rough ending. Foust slammed into the barrier at the top of the turn with the side of his car, and Heikkinen slipped by on the inside to take the lead and win the race.

Patrik Sandell rolled home second, Brian Deegan took third, and Foust regained control of his car to finish fourth. Fiestas took the top five positions as Ken Block claimed fifth.

“Tanner made a little mistake,” Heikkinen said. “I wasn’t expecting that. It was good to get the Ford home first today.”

Foust made a dramatic move at the start of the race, passing several cars to emerge from the tight first turn with the lead. He wouldn’t give it up until the final turn, although there were challenges on the final two laps.

“That was a tough way to end the race,” Foust said. “That’s never fun. Toomas was pressuring the whole race. On the last straight, it seemed like he had a little bit of a run. I thought I’d play it safe. My spotter said he had a chance on the inside.

“I hit the brakes on the inside of the corner to protect the turn, but it was just gravel from all the rain dragging the mud out onto the track. As soon as I touched the brakes, I knew I was in for a ride. The car just rotated and went straight into the wall.

“It was a pretty exciting last six seconds. Typically, it’s the first six seconds that are the most exciting.”

As Deegan roared down the last straightaway hoping for a podium finish, he was surprised to see Foust sideways in the last turn.

“I don’t ever really see mistakes like that from Tanner, especially on the last lap and the last turn,” he said. “I have a feeling it was just a point of blocking the inside. He just lost traction. That’s racing. It hurts, but in the end it’s what I would have had to do, too.”

Heikkenen finished 2.99 seconds in front of Sandell and 9.62 in front of Deegan.

Ford Racing PR