For the first time in X Games history, Rally Car Racing took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles.
And, fittingly, the Rally Car Racing final on Saturday featured two Europeans who were also making their X Games debut.
But as soon as Liam Doran, 24, defeated the legendary European rally cross champion Marcus “Bosse” Gronholm, Doran was ready to go out on a high note.
“First X Games, gold medal, last X Games, I’m going home now,” the Kent, England, native said, half-kidding.
Doran faced Gronholm, 43, in a best-of-three final with each driver taking two laps around the 3,100-feet, six-turn course that also features a 52-foot jump.
Doran won the first race, which was fairly close, and the second, which wasn’t so close, to take gold.
“I was always behind,” said Gronholm, a two-time World Rally Championship title winner. “He took a good start and then you cannot pass. It is impossible.”
Doran said his biggest hurdle was upsetting Capistrano Beach native Tanner Foust in the semifinals. The two have faced each other in several European rally events.
“I was a lot more concerned going up against Tanner than anyone else here because he’s the only one I’ve got a rivalry with,” Doran said.
Foust, one of only four drivers who have competed in every Rally Car event at the X Games, came up short in the bronze-medal race against David Higgins when his car broke down shortly after the start.
Since Higgins, who hails from Onchan, Isle of Man, took bronze, it means Europeans took all three medals Saturday, proving Rally Car Racing is still very much dominated by European drivers.
Foust, who won gold medals in both Rally Car events last year, is expected to compete in Sunday’s RallyCross final, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Doran and Gronholm are scheduled to compete in that event, too.