Red Bull GRC Rd2: Louisville, KY. Full Report

Red Bull GRC Rd2: Louisville, KY. Full Report by Vermont SportsCar | Day1 | Subaru Rally Team USA

Date: 5/20/17 – 5/21/17
Venue: Kentucky Exposition Center
Host Town: Louisville, Kentucky USA
Time Zone: Eastern Daylight Time (UTC -4)
Weather: Very warm, very humid. High of 82ºF with low of 66ºF with 80% humidity Dry condition on Saturday. Wet/Semi-dry condition on Sunday.
Drivers: Chris Atkinson (Car # 55) & Patrik Sandell (Car # 18)
Cars: Subaru WRX STI GRC SuperCar (VT17x)

Track : 0.6993 Miles (1.1255 Kilometers)

Turns: 10

Track Surface: Pavement 82.7% / Dirt 17.3%

Joker Lap: Shortcut between Turns 5-8; .580 miles

Jump Type: Dirt tabletop

DAY1 (SAT 5/20/17): PRACTICE

Sandell and Atko started out the practice session with some very strong times. After they returned to the paddock, their times remained in the top 5 (Sandell p3 / Atko p5). They were dispatched for a second set of practice laps and Atko and Sandell were P2 and P3 respectively. Both cars were sent out for a third practice session and Atko was able to improve on his prior time but Foust had squeezed between Atko and Sandell for P2.

P1 – Speed (30.703)

P2 – Atkinson (31.230 / – 0.527)

P3 – Foust (31.275 / – 0.572)

P4 – Sandell (31.283 / -0.580)


Chris Atkinson: “P3 in Qualifying is not bad, we’re obviously happy with that and we’re in the mix. My second run on the used tires I made a bit of a mistake and wasn’t any faster; I thought I could have gone 2 or 3 tenths quicker, but we were close to the VW’s at least, so it’s nice to be in the mix with them and now it comes down to the racing.”

Patrik Sandell: “We had a really good time leading up to qualifying, practice went really good, we were right up there with times. But for some reason the car was understeering a lot in qualifying, so we’re trying to find the reason now. Other than that, the car feels really good and I am ready for the fight.” Qualifying:

P1 – Foust (29.908)

P2 – Speed (30.220 / -0.312)

P3 – Atkinson (30.543 / -0.635)

P4 – Eriksson (30.594 / -0.686)

P5 – DeJong (30.756 / -0.848)


Patrik was off to a spectacular start with P2 by the first turn tailing the #16 Honda through the first lap. On the second lap, Patrik opted for the joker, but Arpin was able to get around Sandell at the joker exit (Arpin had not taken the joker). Bigham was able to take the joker on the last lap and secure P3 with Sandell taking P4.

Patrik Sandell (P4 out of 5) – “We had a pretty good launch, took off pretty good. I’m fighting still a bit of understeer and we are trying to fix that. Unfortunately, we are falling back and we have some work to do.”


Atko had a slow start but was able to make a good pass on lap 1 securing P3 in front of the Hondas, just behind the two leading VW’s. Atko fought off the pressure from the Hondas. Atko took the joker on lap 3, then came close to passing Foust with 2 laps to go, but was unable to pull it off. P4 for Atko. Foust was later penalized five seconds for aggressive driving and Atko was upgraded to P3.

Chris Atkinson (P3 out of 5) – “We didn’t get the best start, we were a bit behind, but during the carnage we came out in third onto the gravel. After the joker, I couldn’t quite get past Foust and had to back off a bit, which let the Hondas catch up. When they took the joker, one of them got past me which is a bit frustrating, so P3, we’ll take that at the moment, but we need to work a little bit on the starts and things will get better.”


Patrik Sandell (P5 out of 5) – “Again, we had a good start, the car is really really good off the line now. I got squeezed out in the third corner, so I ended up in the dirt. We tried to fight back and did what we could but we broke something in the rear suspension and couldn’t carry enough speed through the corner. We didn’t have the result we wanted in the end; we’re still fighting a bit with the setup so we have to keep going. Tomorrow is another day and we’ll keep pushing.”


Chris Atkinson (P5 out of 5) – “We got an awesome start even though we were on the outside. The launch was really good and we got up one place early on and then got two places from the joker which was nice. We had a bit of a fight in one of the corners and I guess we were up close to second, but in the end, we broke something in the rear and that hurt us with the handling and ended up P5. We didn’t get the result we were after. It’s frustrating! We could have gotten P3. We’ve got the speed in qualifying and we’ve got to turn that into results in the last heats, the semi, then the final.”


SRTUSA set solid times during warmup, however both Atko and Sandell broke a rear damper (LHR) on the landing, in similar situation as to what the team experienced on Saturday. Prior to the damage Atko pulled off a P3, and Sandell got a P7 in warmup. The rear damper failures immediately put the cars in jeopardy of missing Heat 3 and the Semi-finals.

Chris Atkinson: (P3) – “Warmup was OK, obviously it has rained overnight and it’s still a bit damp now. Quite different conditions from yesterday, we made a few setup changes, we are P3, one or two tenths off fastest, so we’re in the mix going into the final heat and not feeling too bad! It’s going to be an interesting heat, as well as the semi and the final with the conditions today; if you get knocked off line, you’re in big trouble. We’re really going to have to play it smart and hopefully we can have some good results.”

CA interviewed after the first half of Warmup

Patrik Sandell: (P7) – “Warmup felt really good, we were up there; I think P2 after the first round. We were out there with both Scott Speed and Tanner. They’re always fast and we were up there fighting with them so that was a really really good feeling. The car feels really good on the wet, but then unfortunately, a damper snapped on the second time out. We need to fix the damper problems”

Due to the numerous damper failures from both Saturday and early Sunday the team worked feverishly to repair the cars. Unfortunately due to breaking all available spare dampers the team was only able to repair one car in time for the Final (Sandell), but GRC rules prohibited the car from starting the Final because the car had not been able to enter the Semi-Final.








“Even after extensive jump testing in pre-season, we came to a different style jump here and we discovered some rear suspension problems. At the moment, we have some ideas on why the issue is happening but it’s very strange and very unexpected. We are investigating it and we’ll do some testing to help come up with the cure. We’ve done hundreds of jumps while getting ready for this season. We thought we’ve had a well proven package and we were very confident. As far as the way car jumps and flies, it was durable and tested and so to have this happen to us here is very devastating. We qualified third so that was very good. We showed that our cars are getting quicker and we are in the hunt. When the weather turned bad, both our drivers stepped up and the times were even better, so we can react. We just have to get the right package put together and need a little bit of luck but we are going to keep at it.”


1. Sebastian Eriksson, #93 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE

2. Steve Arpin, #00 Loenbro Motorsports

3. Scott Speed, #41 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross

4. Tanner Foust, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross

5. Mitchell deJong, #24 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE

6. Austin Dyne, #14 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

7. Oliver Eriksson, #16 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE

8. Cabot Bigham, #2 Bryan Herta Rallysport

DNS. Chris Atkinson, #55 Subaru Rally Team USA

DNS. Patrik Sandell, #18 Subaru Rally Team USA


1. Scott Speed, 150

2. Tanner Foust, 140

3. Steve Arpin, 133

4. Sebastian Eriksson, 129

5. Mitchell deJong, 123

6. Oliver Eriksson, 110

7. Cabot Bigham, 105

8. Chris Atkinson, 57

9. Austin Dyne, 54

10. Patrik Sandell, 53


1. #Volkswagen, 9

2. #Honda, 9

3. #Subaru, 6

© Lars Gange & Ben Haulenbeek, 2017