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Brack Becomes X Games Golden Boy

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, August 3 2009
Kenny Brack grabs the gold at X Games. (Photo courtesy ESPN)

Kenny Brack grabs the gold at X Games. (Photo courtesy ESPN)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Kenny Brack’s first exposure to motorized Action Sports proved to be an X-cellent adventure.

Brack, the 1999 Indianapolis 500 champion, emerged as the class of Sunday’s X Games 15 Rally Competition with a gold medal-winning performance. Driving a Ford Fiesta entered and prepared by the Olsbergs Motor Sport Evolution team of Sweden, Brack defeated 2008 champion Travis Pastrana in the Super Special Rally Final.

Production-based, 450-horsepower Fiesta rally cars dominated the event in Carson, Calif. Tanner Foust, a two-time X Games medalist and 2007 X Games Rally Champion, took the bronze medal in the ROCKSTAR Fiesta after narrowly losing a semifinal match against teammate Brack. And Brian Deegan, the Motocross star turned rally racer, finished fourth overall when he lost a turbo hose on his ROCKSTAR Fiesta during a semifinal pairing against archrival Pastrana.

“The Olsbergs Fiesta was a great car and this victory is the result of a lot of hard work by the team,” said Brack, a 43-year-old Swede who became the first ‘invited driver’ to win the X Games Rally Competition. “The Fiesta is very fast, especially on tarmac. The whole package was fantastic. We ran a single set of BFGoodrich tires today and never had any problem.

“I almost destroyed the car in practice (Sunday morning) because I never jumped the jumps before and because it is a different technique. I landed on the nose and ripped the roll bar and everything off of the car. We managed to regroup and the crew worked hard to get it ready for the elimination rounds. After that first problem, the jumps all went fine. You can dream about something like this, but the reality is often different. But today, everything fell our way.”

Brack, the 1998 IndyCar Series champion who retired from competitive racing after the 2005 Indy 500, clinched gold when Pastrana spun wide and clipped the wall in the final. Brack’s toughest competition came against Foust during their semifinal. Brack, who qualified No. 1 on Friday, edged Foust after “driver error” sabotaged the latter’s run.

“Unfortunately, Kenny and I got stuck up against each other in the semifinals,” said Foust, who described the Fiesta as ‘an angry little beast’ earlier in the week.  “I was a little slow against Kenny on the first half of the track, but on the second half I made it up and I think I may have passed him a little bit. Then coming around the fountain, a barrier had moved in the competition. I just made an error and I drove up, basically, his lane instead of mine and I had to do a 180 and come back and that cost me at least four or five seconds and Kenny took it. He is an amazing driver. Kenny has such a big background and he deserves it. Best of all, Ford has 1 and 3 at the X Games and that is a lot of hardware.”

Deegan, driver of the ROCKSTAR Fiesta, finished fourth when he lost turbo power against  Pastrana. “I had a good time in the car out there ripping around,” said Deegan, a 10-time X Games medalist. “I ended up not getting any practice because they cut it short. So I went out and hit the jump a little too fast in my prelim and endoed (flipped end-over-end) and smashed it a little bit and popped my turbo hose off. So I luckily finished the round and got through and my next round was with [Ken] Block, and going off the course all crazy made my turbo hose pop off again.

“With the quick turnaround for the last run against Pastrana, they couldn’t get the turbo hose on right and I went out with no power. I came up for the jump and thought it was all or nothing. Since I didn’t want to crash the car, I went around the jump and just finished the race. There is always next year. Up to that point I was kicking butt and I was surprised with my driving. Hopefully, next year, I’m in a Ford Fiesta and I can win a medal.”

The all-new Fiesta will go on sale domestically in 2010, boosted by a unique social media marketing campaign and featured over the past two weeks in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and the X Games.

“We felt Pikes Peak, as well as the X Games, were two physical opportunities to showcase the exciting attributes of the Fiesta,” said Jaime Allison, manager, Ford Performance Group. “It’s fun to drive, has European DNA – it’s the future of Ford vehicle DNA.”

To that end, the new Fiesta is scheduled to compete in the prestigious World Rally Championship. “It doesn’t get much bigger than that for the Fiesta,” Allison said. “Stateside, three of the cars competing (in the X Games) will be available at SEMA and future auto shows. Also, we’ve been approached by other teams who want to field the Fiesta for Rally America, so I would love to talk to some of these private teams who want to go on and compete in Rally America starting next year.”

The Fiesta for the North American market will be built at Ford’s assembly plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico. “When Fiesta does hit the streets, we are developing a line of performance packs for anybody who owns a Fiesta to get a feeling of Rally,” Allison said. “So, (expect) Rally-styled performance parts from Ford Fiesta, for street Fiestas, about a year from now.”

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, August 3 2009
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