Preview: GRC at Snoqualmie

Irwindale winner Marcus Grönholm (first car) won't be at Snoqualmie, opening the door for his competition. Ford Racing / Paul Webb

Day 1: Super Rally
Day 2: RallyCross

The Global Rallycross Championship heads north this Friday and Saturday to the Old Mill Rally Park in Snoqualmie, Wash., just east of Seattle. Unlike the Irwindale venue (which is better suited for stockcars), this is natural territory for rally drivers. The races will take place on a course that is half gravel, half tarmac. What can we expect out of this, the second event of the GRC series, dubbed "Twin Peaks?" Fierce competition, new faces and evolving storylines. Here are eight things to watch out for.

Redemption for Subaru
Subaru Rally Team USA sat out the first day of the season opener, citing a need for testing time. On the second day, the car had a litany of problems -- from broken driveline components to failed suspension. Driver Dave Mirra struggled through to the finals and eked out a fourth-place finish, but he'll be anxious to show the fans at Twin Peaks what his car (and team) are really capable of.

Verdier on the road to victory?
Privateer (not factory sponsored) driver Stephan Verdier finished working on his Subaru Impreza STI just hours before Irwindale, and he went on to finish third, just behind Rockstar driver Tanner Foust. Verdier said his car needed more development in how it handles. Let's see if he's found the secret for Snoqualmie.

Ford, besides Foust
Marcus Grönholm, two-time World Rally Champion and winner of the GRC opening round, won't be competing at Twin Peaks, but he'll be back for the Last Chance event in Colorado, driving for Best Buy. Standing in is Andreas Eriksson, the team principle for Olsberg MSE, the company that prepares the Ford Fiestas for Rockstar and Best Buy. But this is not a case of the manager out for a Sunday drive: Eriksson has a strong rallycross pedigree, having been a front-runner in the European championship. He is the one who builds these cars, so no one knows their capabilities better.

Hyundai shows their stuff
Will the Hyundai Veloster be better off after a few more weeks of development? There were glimpses of brilliance last month at Irwindale, but not a consistent showing. Rhys Millen has said that since then, they've changed the brake and wheel package on the car, and Hankook (his tire sponsor) is making a custom tire just for the team. Will this be enough to catch up to the front of the pack?

The Twin Peaks course
The Pacific Northwest is known for it's rain, and the forecast is chock full of wet weather. The tires that worked on the mostly dry track at Irwindale may not be the best answer for Snoqualmie. Additionally, half of the course will be made up of gravel, a surface that reacts differently than the dirt that teams encountered at Irwindale. Things could get interesting ...

2WD heats up
After a weekend full of mechanical problems, Matthew Johnson won the 2WD RallyCross race out in Irwindale. But there are some hungry drivers coming out for Snoqualmie, including Randy Zimmer in his custom carbon fiber-bodied Mazda Miata and Andrew Sutherland, who was on his way to a podium last month until a crash with Dillon Van Way during finals took both cars out of the running. Johnson, Zimmer and Sutherland will definitely do battle at Twin Peaks.

Untested newcomers
In addition to everyone who raced at Irwindale, there will be a number of newcomers attending Twin Peaks. Having not competed in the first event, will any of them have a shot at winning? Or will a clean slate (and clean-running car) turn out to be an advantage?

Round 2 of the Global RallyCross Championships kicks off this Friday.