The practice day for the X Games 16 Rally competitors is in the books, and despite plenty of preparation the teams face some unexpected challenges at the new venue. The drivers first took to the makeshift dirt track at the L.A. Coliseum early yesterday afternoon and quickly found that the setup isn't ideally suited to automobiles - or at least anything with bumpers. The course features two major elevation changes, going up and out of the stadium and then back in again, and nearly all of the drivers are having difficulty with the latter. The entrance back into the stadium is so steep that drivers are forced to either come in extremely slowly or catch air and plow the front end of the car into the dirt. To make matters worse, an uneven track surface at the bottom of the descent causes the cars to go airborne again. It may be fun to watch, but it's undoubtedly frustrating for the drivers.
Interestingly, the one feature of the track that usually gives the drivers trouble - the jump - is no problem at all. Most drivers initially seemed cautious before making their practice runs, but they quickly realized that not too much speed is needed, and soon thereafter they were easily clearing the gap on every lap.
Overall, the current track layout at the new venue is disappointing. The course is essentially one large loop featuring all right turns, with the two elevation changes and the jump thrown in. Much of the course is fairly narrow as well, which will make the SuperRally either very boring (no passing) or very interesting (lots of bumping and crashing). We'll reserve judgment until we actually see it happen, and we fully expect the addition of actual competition and tens of thousands of fans to make things more exciting. Stay tuned for more live X Games 16 rally coverage this weekend.