Professional driver Matthew Johnson secures Championship lead in the two-wheel drive Global Rallycross at Twin Peaks April 16 in Snoqualmie, outside of Seattle, WA.

Johnson, a former Rally America Champion, and two-time rallycross winner at the RallyCar US Rallycross Championship in 2010, drove the Nitro Circus Mazda RX-8 to a win last month at The Revolution in Irwindale, CA – the inaugural race of the Global Rallycross Championship. This weekend’s podium secures Johnson’s lead in the Global Rallycross Championship in the 2WD Rallycross division.

“Friday was all about focusing on what to do with the car to make it better,” said Johnson. “Then with a better car, Saturday was about focusing on what to do with the driver.” Matthew praised the Twin Peaks venue, “I was really impressed by the track layout and facility, thanks to Dirtfish Rally School, we had a really interesting and challenging track to race on and got to do 80 mph straight through a warehouse!”

The Global Rallycross Championship, broadcast on ESPN and live on ESPN3, has seen drivers from the top ranks of action sports and rallycross in the United States and Europe battle through two of three rounds, vying for the title of Global Rallycross Champion. Matthew Johnson, a native of North Carolina now living in San Diego, California, has taken the Nitro Circus Mazda RX-8 to a victory and a couple podium finishes already this season.

Among Johnson’s key competition are 2009 Rally America 2WD Champion Dillon Van Way, and Swedish driver Mikael Erikkson, in the Porsche 996 that won this weekend’s event. “The competition is great here at Global Rallycross. Dillon is really growing as a driver, and it was ultra cool to race against Mikael Erikkson with his european experience.”

Matthew Johnson Motorsport with the help of Feal Suspsension have been developing the Nitro Circus Mazda RX-8 in parallel with the racing season. “We only got our hands on the RX-8 a week before the first race, so we’ve been adapting it to meet the needs of rallycross ever since. It isn’t a weapon yet, but that’s where we’re headed.” The team has had a heavy set of challenges with the car, but also many solutions. “After all our hard work and changes on the car after The Revolution, I was pretty frustrated that the car drove poorly in the SuperRally,” said Johnson. “The changes we made worked great, but they just helped expose the next level of issues. Our crewchief says it’s like peeling an onion, many layers of things are going on with the car and we’re digging through them one at a time. We knew the car was still in development when we got it, and I believe it has a lot of potential.”

Johnson is focused on Global Rallycross competition this season. A strong performance in the Global Rallycross Championship could earn him an entry to ESPN’s X Games 18 Rallycross competition this summer in Los Angeles. It’s event he has competed in twice before, but a very hard crash during practice in 2009 ended his race before it began. Johnson hopes to earn an entry and have a successful outing if he does.

Rallycross is a blend of circuit racing, off-road racing and rally competition. Intense crowd-pleasing action in a fan-friendly track environment with six drivers lining up to start at once, piloting high-horsepower compact cars through race traffic over a challenging short course that features jumps, unbanked turns, hills and transitions between pavement and gravel. “Unlike rally where the car has to be ready to survive the whole event, rallycross has lots of small breaks and ways to slot back into the competition if you miss qualifying or a heat race,” said Johnson. “Lucky for us, we can have problems in the morning and race our way back to the podium once things start working later in the day,” he smiled.

The Ridge Motorsports Park supported Matthew at Twin Peaks, and introduced him to Ross Bentley, author of the Speed Secrets books. “Ross gave me some advice and a lot of encouragement this weekend. I’ve read some of his books and really appreciated meeting him.”

Johnson will next travel to Pike’s Peak International Raceway: Colorado Springs, CO, for Round 3: Last Chance (June 17-18), where the Global Rallycross Championship will kick off the festivities for the esteemed Pike’s Peak International Hillclimb.

Full race coverage of Round 2: Twin Peaks will air May 14, at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The series has a multi-year programming relationship with ESPN, with Global RallyCross Championship broadcasts slated to follow NASCAR Nationwide and NHRA shows on ESPN and ESPN2.

To keep up with Matthew Johnson and the Nitro Circus RX-8 follow Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/mjrally) for up to the minute updates, or find him on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/matthewjohnson46).

The Nitro Circus Mazda RX-8 and Matthew Johnson Motorsport are made possible by:
Nitro Circus (www.nitrocircus.com),
The Ridge Motorsports Park (http://www.ridgemotorsportspark.com)
Danza Del Sol Winery (http://www.danzadelsolwinery.com/),
FEAL Suspension (http://www.rallyracingsuspension.com),
Braille Battery (http://www.braillebattery.com),
KAAZ Differentials (http://www.kaazusa.com),
MAZDASPEED (http://www.mazdamotorsports.com)

About Global RallyCross
The RallyCar organization sanctions the Global RallyCross Championship events. Competitors in the Global RallyCross Championship may also elect to score points in the U.S. Rallycross Championship.

To find out more, including ticket sales, competitor information and registration details:
Visit http://www.global-rallycross.com/
Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GlobalRallyCross
Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlobalRallyX

Photos
Matthew Johnson driving images by Neil McDaid
Matthew Johnson posing with car image by Jason Tang


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