RallyCross is quickly becoming one of the X Games' most exciting events, with many of the most popular athletes flocking to four wheels in the past few years. For X Games 18 this past weekend, the lineup of drivers was the most impressive yet, with eight-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb accepting Travis Pastrana's challenge to take on the rest of the field, not to mention European RallyCross champion Sverre Isachsen and skateboarder Bucky Lasek bolstering team Subaru.

Despite never having raced in X Games, let alone anywhere in North America, Loeb was undoubtedly the favorite going into the event. Yes, his specially built Citroën DS3 has significantly more horsepower than his standard rally car, but Loeb has also proven he is incredibly fast no matter what he is driving. The rest of the X Games field was full of experienced and capable drivers including two-time WRC champion Marcus Grönholm, Tanner Foust, Liam Doran and Rhys Millen. It's also hard to count out Brian Deegan, last year's gold medalist, and the always-entertaining Ken Block.

Could Sebastien Loeb translate his WRC success into inaugural X Games success, or did one of the other RallyCross drivers beat out the venerable Frenchman? Scroll down to find out.
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This is the second year that X Games has held the RallyCross event on the streets of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the organizers apparently didn't learn much from planning the event last year, and they designed a course that ended up being extremely unsafe for drivers. The first incident occurred during Friday's practice session when Finnish driver Toomas Heikkinen shorted the 50-foot jump, smashing directly into the steel ramp at nearly 50 miles per hour. Heikkinen's Fiesta landed upside down and caught fire, though he managed to crawl out to safety despite breaking his ankle.

At this point, many of the drivers called for the course to be changed, and race officials decided to fill in the gap between the ramps to prevent any further safety issues. Driver injuries were present in the next day's practice, however, when Marcus Grönholms mashed into an exposed concrete light post on the corner just after the newly revised ramp. Grönholm was knocked unconscious and was immediately taken to the hospital where he suffered bleeding in his brain. Thankfully, his condition is improving, although he remains hospitalized.

The incident with Grönholm caused further changes to the course, with drivers walking the track before Sunday morning's practice session to point out any unsafe sections. Hopefully event organizers will take note, and design a safer course from the start for next year's race.



The racing finally got going Sunday afternoon, with action-packed four-car qualifying sessions. In the first heat, Sam Hubinette and Ken Block dominated, securing their place in the finals, while Sebastien Loeb and Tanner Foust easily took the top two spots in the second race.

The third event brought the first surprise, with Sverre Isachsen topping last year's gold medalist Brian Deegan in a very close race. The Norwegian rookie started on the outside but managed to get the jump on the other three competitors, sweeping past them to take the lead on the first corner. His Subaru edged out the Fiesta by a little more than a half second, sending both to the finals.

Things got even more dramatic in the fourth heat, where Pastrana looked to be the favorite. Pastrana, driving in his 2013 Dodge Dart for the first time at X Games, had qualified second overall and had the prime inside position at the start. He took advantage of that by quickly jumping out to the lead ahead of Andy Scott, David Binks and David Higgins. Unfortunately for Pastrana, Scott, who had the slowest start, slammed into the back of the No. 199 car, smashing the Red Bull driver into the wall so hard it visibly moved the concrete barriers. Pastrana was actually trapped in his car for several minutes, and the usually calm driver was clearly upset when he finally exited the vehicle. The accident brought out a red flag and a restart was announced, but Scott was disqualified and Pastrana's Dart was undrivable, leaving Higgins and Binks to qualify for the finals by default.



X Games allows for a ten-car final, meaning that two additional cars can advance in the remaining "Last Chance Qualifiers." In the first, Liam Doran, last year's Rally Car Racing gold medalist, managed an all-important quick start and took advantage of his inside position to give himself a nice cushion. Dave Mirra's Subaru went limp after the first corner, leaving Stephan Verdier and Bucky Lasek to challenge Doran for the final qualifying spot in vain.

To fill out the final tenth spot in the second LCQ, Rhys Millen, Bryce Menzies and Andy Scott lined up. Scott initially false-started and Millen stalled, but race officials called for a restart and mandated that they line up behind the other two drivers for the infraction. On the restart, there was another false start, this time Menzies, causing yet another restart. That left Rhys to start out front all by himself, and he took full advantage. Menzies blew a tire midway through the first lap, leaving Millen to breeze into the final.



For the ten-car final, Sebastien Loeb was the favorite, starting in the front inside position. He managed to protect that advantage from the start, darting out to an early lead and driving flawlessly for the remainder of the race. It was a performance everyone fully expected from the eight-time rally champion.

"The X Games was a good experience, the track was good and I was excited to race at the X Games and win this competition," said Loeb after the race. "The most difficult point was that first corner because you lose everything if someone hits you."

Perhaps just as impressive, however, was Ken Block, who managed to go from fourth to second despite running the last three laps with a blown rear tire. Last year's gold medalist, Brian Deegan, cemented his place as a contender with a solid third place finish, giving Ford the remaining podium positions.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 65 Comments
      Carzzz
      • 2 Years Ago
      is it me or does this loeb guy come off as the biggest bad ass in motorsports without even making a gymkyna video, plasterging tattoos on his arms, witholding from slayer signs after a win, and really without even showing any sort of emotion...?
        JDam4131
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Carzzz
        It's called being a class act.
          Carzzz
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JDam4131
          yes, but sometimes you can be too humble for your own skill set. he makes jimmie johnson look like an arrogant prick.
        JGuan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Carzzz
        He's not a badass, he's just a real genuine racer, born and bred. Block, Pastrana and the rest of the ex-extreme sport athletes are simply ruining the reputation of motorsports with their deep pockets and lack of respect for the profession.
          Matt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JGuan
          Block yes, Pastrana no. Pastrana has busted his ass in mototx for years and when you here him talk about what he does and why he does it, he is very humble and down to earth. Pastrana and Foust seem to be the only ones with respect for the profession and not just glorifying the fact they're driving fast cars and sliding around.
        Jonathan Arena
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Carzzz
        Thats because he IS a badass. The rest are posers.
      Stephen
      • 2 Years Ago
      X-Games Rally has been a joke since they started it. They can't get anything right -- notice how they put a table top on the jump and tires on that concrete wall AFTER both those practice crashes? The crappy camera work and announcing? And how this year they got a course that drivers wouldn't get lost in but made for really boring racing? If they're going to embarrass US "rally drivers" with someone like Loeb, they might as well get it right in the production aspect.
        Jonathan Arena
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Stephen
        True, but you have to give them props for getting the World Rally Champion on the same course. That was definately entertaining!
      dinobot666
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mexico isn't a part of North America? Loeb has raced WRC Mexico and won multiple times.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @dinobot666
        [blocked]
      Suzq044
      • 2 Years Ago
      I feel bad for Pastrana, he always gets jipped when he's leading.. every time. :\
        Matt
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Suzq044
        It wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't qualified second behind Loeb, had Pastrana got to the final, it would have been one hell of a race.
          p4R4d0x
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Matt
          Even if he hadn't qualified second, it's really disappointing watching all of his hard work disappear in .02 seconds due to something out of his control..
        evannever
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Suzq044
        Yeah, he was really rattled and rightly so. That would suck to get the whole shot like that and have the guy that was third off the line end your series.
      Aaron C
      • 2 Years Ago
      I was really disappointed with Blocks dirty driving among a few other drivers! You couldn't get away with driving like that in British touring car, and that's saying something! The worst was the guy in the Saab he should have bean black flagged.. Was stoked to see Loeb win though! Hes one of my favorite drivers, and from what I could see, Loeb was also running a much stiffer suspension setup than most of the field wich I think helped him allot, wich shows he's got an amazing team backing him up, as well as being one of the best drivers on the planet.
      bo2web
      • 2 Years Ago
      At 2;30 This is not the European Championship but WRC : World Rally Championship registered to the IAF ! No american driver in this championship so why USA are the center of the world if WRC means European Championship ?
      Myself
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's safe to say that Americans not only cannot race against top world drivers, they cannot build a race track properly either....
        Zeus
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        I don't think thats true, I think the problem is in the US there are a lot of guys buying their way into the sport, or are there because they are entertainers. Personally I don't think Block / Foust / Deegan represent the real talent that is out there in America. They are entertainers, not racers. There are people here who could challenge Loeb in GRC, but I bet a lot of them are at home right now without the funds to get to this level.
        ROLO
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        no no it isn't. his car is more powerful one guy messed it up at the start for them block cut a tire. Id rather Foust be behind him then block cause he is a known choker. Please don't make blanket statements about American racecar drivers just cause your RL is so poor.
          Matt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ROLO
          Loeb's car is just as powerful as all the other GRC cars that were there, maybe even a little less powerful since his DS3 XL GRC has 545hp, not 550 like the others. His DS3 XL GRC car is more powerful than his DS3 WRC car, perhaps that is where you have the idea his car is more powerful than the others. Block blowing a tire means nothing, before the restart Foust was second and almost 3 seconds behind Loeb, so I doubt with 4 tires Block would have caught him. They all are good racers and have the utmost respect for what they do (I was rooting for Pastrana to take gold but we saw how that ended) but Loeb is a decorated rally driver, not a stunt driver or clothing company owner with money to burn turned racers. The experience gap is huge and it showed.
        Shane Gardner
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        Yeah, ok buddy.
        SuperSkyline89
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        Laguna Seca, Road America, Road Atlanta, Virginia International Raceway, Watkins Glen, Infineon, and many more. Ya, American's can't build good race tracks, pull your head out of your ass.
        Drew
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        I'm an American, and I approve of this message.
      JGuan
      • 2 Years Ago
      What makes these talentless ex-skaters, bikers, and has-beens think they can rally? Loeb whooped their asses. Oh, X Games is such a joke...
        Matt
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JGuan
        Because they aren't exactly rallying, their rally crossing. We saw how they do in the WRC with Block and his middle of the pack finishes. Rally cross has a lower barrier of entry skill-wise. Of all the racers there, Pastrana and Foust I feel would be closest to Loeb, if you put them on a better rally cross course. The X Games course is a joke when you look at ERC or other GRC rally cross courses.
      Justin B.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Loeb's car was more powerful but he would have won regardless. A man amongst boys, really.
        Jonathan Arena
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin B.
        Didn't look more powerful... at the start they all looked pretty even. Superior driving.
        Matt
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin B.
        They all had 550hp.
      RampantFury
      • 2 Years Ago
      I never thought id see the day Ken Block kept up with Sebastian Loeb.
        Shane Gardner
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RampantFury
        With three tires.
          Matt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Shane Gardner
          Let's be honest, with 4 he wouldn't have passed him either. Foust was 3 seconds behind with the gap getting bigger before the restart, and I doubt Block is a better driver than Foust.
      cynicalrick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nice job ESPN, you failed to show the race for 2nd place while you watched Loeb trundle around slowly.
      Arthur Alford
      • 2 Years Ago
      The only person who might have challenged Loeb was Gronholm. Loeb simply ran away from the field by getting ahead at turn one and pressing on. Block was never going to catch him, even on four tires. That he finished in second on three is interesting, though I bet having his teammate Deegan behind him kept the pressure off. Would Pastrana have made a difference if he hadn't gotten the Kyle Bush treatment? Probably not-the Dodge has yet to show real speed in either of the other two events in GRC this year.
        Shane Gardner
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Arthur Alford
        I'm sure Deegan, in the Rockstar car made sure to not pressure Block...in the Monster car. Yup.
        BLS
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Arthur Alford
        What are you basing your assessment of Gronholm on? Can't be the last 8 years of WRC, which Loeb has dominated. Is Gronholm know for RallyCross?
          Matt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BLS
          Gronholm ran in the European RallyCross, I don't remember how he did off the top of my head though.
          p4R4d0x
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BLS
          I think his comment about Gronholm was more referring to the fact that he has proven himself a worthy competitor with wins on the world stage (I believe two first- and two second-place finishes for the WRC driver's championship, and I believe he has also raced in and won in the ERC) versus the rest of the field who got there by having lots of money, being a stunt driver, or skateboarding. He also won both GRC events so far this year..
        Pdexter
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Arthur Alford
        Loeb seems to agree as after victory he said on a interview that winning didn't feel that good when Gronholm was in hospital.
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