BFGoodrich X Games Ride-Along With Andrew Comrie-Picard and Samuel Hubintte
With X Games 16 set to kick off this weekend in Los Angeles, BFGoodrich Tires invited the media out to a ride-along event with BFGoodrich rally drivers Andrew Comrie-Picard (ACP) and Samuel Hubintte at a quarry lot near the Irwindale Speedway. The event helped serve as a shakedown for the drivers to work out a few kinks with their rally cars, and it also was an opportunity for Off-Road.com and other media outlets to hop in the passenger seat for a few laps with Hubintte and Comrie-Picard.
For the 2010 X Games, the 16th edition of the action-sports bonanza, the rally competition will see a few changes. Aside from the venue change from the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, to the Coliseum in LA, a new event was also added in addition to the X Games Rally race that’s called SuperRally. X Games Rally will still pit two drivers against each other on separate courses, with the winner posting the best time. The new SuperRally event, however, is more based on the European style of rally racing that will feature heats of four drivers lining up door to door and racing on the same track vying to cross the finish line first.
“This is my fifth X Games, and there’s only four of us who will have done all five – Travis Pastrana, Ken Block, myself, and Tanner Foust,” said Comrie-Picard, who recently moved to LA and is working on a new television show on Discovery Channel called Ultimate Car Build-Off. “The Rally car racing and the SuperRally at X Games this year are in different in format in so far is there are four cars wheel to wheel in SuperRally, but other than that the courses are quite similar. So I think the car setup and a lot of the technical strategy is going to be the same, but it’s the competitive strategy and the wheel-to-wheel stuff that’s going to be the key in SuperRally.”
ACP also noted some major rules changes in the racing this year, the biggest being a huge increase in the power of the cars. ACP says his vehicle is going from about 320 horsepower up to nearly 600 hp. That’s quite a jump.
“We’ve had big rule revisions for this year,” ACP notes on the changes, which are more consistent with the European RallyCross rules. “The cars are allowed to have much bigger intake restrictors, much bigger turbochargers and much more aggressive tires. All this changes our strategy a lot and the cars are going to be a lot faster than they have in the past. I think we’re going to be limited by traction at the end of the day, but it’s going to be really interesting.”
For Hubintte, this will be his first X Games, and he will be focusing solely on the SuperRally event. Hubintte may be a rookie to the X Games, but he comes with a great deal of racing experience that includes two Formula Drift championships.
“It’s definitely a learning experience for me,” Hubintte said. “I walk into this event very humbled. This morning, when I finally got behind a steering wheel, it finally felt like home. I was kind of curious how it was going to feel with the overdrive. I haven’t done much overdrive racing at all, so it takes a little while to adapt to that.”
He compared RallyCross racing – which follows the same basic format as European RallyCross that he began racing when he was 16 – to motocross racing where racers look to get a solid holeshot off the start to try and get into that first turn in the lead. It should create for some exciting racing.
The track at the Coliseum this year is actually a little shorter than last year’s, and it will consist of mostly dirt with very little asphalt compared to the large section of asphalt drivers took at the Home Depot Center. With the additional horsepower of the vehicles and the track focusing mostly on dirt, both drivers will rely heavily on picking the correct BFGoodrich tire for the conditions.
BFGoodrich has two main tires its drivers will likely choose between, and word on the street is that with the new course many drivers still haven’t decided which they will use (and might not until the morning of the event). The BFGoodrich g-Force Rally (gravel) tires are more aggressive in gripping dirt, while the BFGoodrich g-Force Rally (tarmac) tire is designed to hug road surface better. While drivers will be sorting out with BFG tire will work best for the new course, the choice of BFGoodrich tires is probably a good move when you consider BFG has won 11 of the 13 medals awarded at X Games, which include all four gold medals (Travis Pastrana ‘06/’08, Tanner Foust ‘07, Kenny Brack ‘09).
For the event BFGoodrich hosted earlier in the week, we were invited to a small dirt lot outside of the Irwindale Speedway in Southern California. A small group of media members, that even included a KABC-TV 7 reporter (who we only saw apply makeup once), gathered for the event and were able to talk with the drivers and check out the cars first hand.
After lunch and a brief introduction, it was our chance to hop in the vehicles and go for a ride. Surprisingly, the makeshift rally course was actually pretty cool, featuring a few fast sections, a large hill that concludes with a tight downhill turn, and a muddy full-circle turn that allows the drivers to get the car sideways.
Off-Road.com was lucky enough to hop in with ACP for a few laps around the course. Unfortunately, it looked like our ride was going to get cut short after a turbo hose came loose on the first lap, which limited Comrie-Picard from really getting on the gas. “This is why we do shakedowns before the race,” ACP shrugged after we pulled into the pits.
Fortunately for us, the hose was reattached and fastened down after 15 minutes and we had another shot to ride. We pulled away from the makeshift pits, ACP revved the engine a few times while looking at the displays to make sure engine’s power was back to normal, and then he looked over and asked “Are you ready?” to which I nodded. He then proceeded to make sure the turbo hose was securely attached by slamming down the throttle, shifting a few gears within blink of an eye and tore sideways into the muddy first turn.
Whether annoyed that the hose wasn’t securely attached or making sure to give us our money’s worth, ACP really hammered it on the next two laps and kept us thoroughly entertained. We spoke with him about off-road racing earlier in the day, as he raced in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Series previously (which he plans to do more) and is hoping to get the opportunity to off-road desert race as well, especially now that he lives in Southern California. He definitely made sure to show us that rally racing has its place in off-road disciplines, and it was really cool to witness the complications of driving a rally car first hand. It will definitely give us a better appreciation of the racing this weekend.
Speaking of this weekend, be sure to check out our recap of the rally racing from X Games 16. For more information on the event schedule or TV times, check out this link. For more information on BFGoodrich, visit BFGoodric.com.