Red Bull GRC Top 10: 2016 Lites Photos
Our top 10 countdown of the 2016 Red Bull GRC season continues with a look at our favorite GRC Lites photos of the year! Staff photographers Larry Chen and Louis Yio have been working overtime to give you, the fans, the best possible shots from each and every one of our events, and we’re proud to share our favorites today.
This year was the most competitive yet for the Lites class, with six drivers taking victories and four of them entering our finale in Los Angeles with a shot at the title. From Miki Weckstrom’s win in his debut in Phoenix, to Cabot Bigham’s last-to-first run in the last race of the year, these were the moments that stood out:
10. Preston Murray smokes the tires charging into the last corner in the season opener in Phoenix. Murray, who had never raced a Lites car before the weekend, filled in admirably at Rhys Millen Racing, as one of only three drivers to make both finals that weekend without having to go to a last chance qualifier. The other two: Oliver Eriksson and Miki Weckstrom, who finished second and third in 2016 points.
9. Red Bull GRC’s return to Seattle was well-received by drivers and fans alike, and this was a big reason why: all that dirt! Tanner Whitten kicks it up in the mud at Evergreen Speedway, on one of the most fun to watch courses of the season.
8. AF Racing Team drivers Alejandro Fernandez and Christian Brooks take a moment to relax before driver introductions. Fernandez would win his third consecutive Fan Favorite Driver of the Year award, while Brooks’ livery was voted best in class in a poll held on RedBullGRC.com earlier in the year.
7. Tanner Whitten counted himself a Lites race winner for the second year in a row with his triumph at Daytona. The win was extra special for the former stock car racer, as it came on Father’s Day with his family in attendance. Whitten later parlayed his early-season success into a promotion to a Supercar in Los Angeles.
6. Besides being the longest track of the 2016 season, the Atlantic City course at Bader Field saw drivers bouncing over rough dirt and pavement. The surfaces didn’t faze Alex Keyes, though: he swept the weekend to take his fourth career Lites victory in what had been his final scheduled start of the season. (He would later fill in for Tanner Whitten in Los Angeles and add a second victory there.)
5. Nobody celebrates quite like a Lites driver, as Oliver Eriksson demonstrated in Dallas. The defending champion marked his fourth career victory, and Olsbergs MSE X Forces’ second win in three races, by pulling in front of the VIP section and climbing on the roof of his car. Eriksson would make it two in a row two weeks later in Daytona.
4. Talk about a wild ride: less than a day after taking a victory in the first final at MCAS New River, Miki Weckstrom clipped a barrier and saw his wheels leave the ground in front of a hard-charging field. Unfazed by the incident, he would rebound later that month in Washington DC with a third place run.
3. It only took two races for Conner Martell and DirtFish Motorsports to find victory lane together, doing so in Phoenix in only his fifth career start. The fans packed the podium in Seattle as the team took a hometown victory, but the pure elation of a first-time winner is hard to top.
2. If not for all the bright colors and sponsor logos, you could be forgiven for confusing this shot from Los Angeles with traffic on the 405. Oliver Eriksson (left) and Alex Keyes lead the way as the field barrels down the fronstretch at the start of the final, but it was Keyes who would take the victory after all 10 laps were complete.
1. This shot is a perfect metaphor for the 2016 title chase as a whole. Cabot Bigham led the Lites standings for most of the year, although everything wasn’t always picture perfect (four LCQ appearances, a DNF in Seattle, the last starting spot on the grid for the finale). But even with defending champion Oliver Eriksson filling up his mirrors, the rookie always found a way to regain control. He did it here in Washington DC on the way to his first win, and he did it in Los Angeles after losing the points lead in Seattle—winning the last race of the year and taking the title by one finishing position.
Photo credit: Larry Chen, Louis Yio