MILLVILLE, N.J. – Art Gruszka captured the Rally America 4WD Class victory in a drama filled controversial finish at New Jersey Motorsports Park Saturday over David Sterckx.
Sterckx entered the event using his stage rally prepared Subaru STI that was quickly converted for rallycross competition and did not have nearly the power that Gruzska’s Mitsubishi EVO possessed.
Yet, Sterckx held an eight-second advantage in the first heat and a four-second advantage in the next heat over Gruzska.
The pair met in the 4WD Main event with five other teams, and Gruzska instantly took the lead. After three laps Sterckx made up the distance and took an inside line through a dirt section and appeared to begin a pass.
Instead, Sterckx and Gruszka bumped causing Gruzska to spin and lose his position. Sterckx continued to the finish as a black flag for disqualification was waved in his direction.
Gruszka continued the race on a flat tire after the fallout and managed to finish. Rally America officials determined that Sterckx did not own the inside line and was the cause of the spin, thus awarding the class win to Gruzska.
“I looked in the mirror and didn’t see Sterckx,” said Gruszka, “This race was very fast, the car was very fast.”
Ryan Wilcox, a 4WD class newcomer, took second place five seconds behind Gruzska and Sebastian Kokoszka took third place despite a flat tire halfway through the race.
After a very exciting 2WD Super Class Main event, Dillon Van Way in his turbocharged Ford Fiesta normally used for stage rally beat the more powerful Swedish team of Mikael Eriksson in his 2002 Porsche GT3.
Van Way has raced against Eriksson in the past when the two ran the 2011 Global Rallycross competition where Eriksson took the 2WD title.
“This rallycross win is the highlight of my season,” said Van Way, “All except for one rallycross event we’ve qualified first, been on the podium once. It finally happened.”
In the Main final event Eriksson pulled away at the start, but Van Way overtook Eriksson in the Joker dirt section, a small dirt detour that each driver must take during the race, and cruised to the win.
Mikael Eriksson took second place three seconds behind, and Peter Farrell rounded out the podium in third place.
Local driver Collin Wooding improved his previous U.S. Rallycross Series second place finish by winning the 2WD Limited Class in dominant fashion. Wooding beat Rafal Wrobiewski from Elmwood Park, NJ by 15 seconds and Rich Bodmer from Westfield, NJ by another 5.6 seconds.
Wooding immediately shot off the start line in the Main Event putting distance over the others and almost lapped the last car in the group.
Wooding mentioned that the team made improvements to their BMW 318ti with a larger 2.8 liter engine since the first rallycross event. The improvements were enough to get him over the hump and into the top spot.