Red Bull GRC RD3: New England – Full Report

Red Bull GRC Round 3 & 4: Thompson, CT – Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park EVENT DATE: Sat 6/3 – Sun 6/4

TIME ZONE: Eastern Daylight Time (UTC -4)

WEATHER: A mix of sun and clouds with scattered showers

Drivers: Chris Atkinson (Car # 55) & Patrik Sandell (Car # 18) Cars: Subaru WRX STI GRC SuperCar (VT17x)


TRACK LENGTH: 0.895 miles


TRACK SURFACE: Pavement 64.6% / Dirt 35.4%

JOKER LAP: Shortcut between Turns 7-9; 0.763 miles

JUMP TYPE: Dirt tabletop




P. Sandell (P2) – “Happy with qualifying. We tried a few different things yesterday in practice and we knew this morning what kind of setup we wanted to approach going into qualifying and I was able to put everything together on the laps I had. With these tires, you more or less get one lap on a course like this with a lot of asphalt and you lose a few tenths in the tires. I was able to get it all down and super happy for Subaru that we’ve been able to put it all the way up to P2, so it’s a good start to the weekend.”

C. Atkinson (P4) – “Second and Fourth are really good for the team. We were a tenth off Patrik, so it’s all really close. I never did a good lap on my new tires so it cost myself a little bit there and I was able to do some quicker laps later on, but I had already used the tires up. Just didn’t quite have the rhythm on the first couple of laps; I was better towards the end. I think we’ve still got a fast car, we’re in the mix. Tanner is a bit in the distance, but everyone else is really close. Now, it’s race time, so who knows what’s gonna happen?”


Earned good grid position with qualifying results; Sandell P2, Atko P3 on the grid.. Off the line both cars got a good launch, but Aripin was able to swing high on the bank and make a pass for P2 just before the jump. Atko got P3, behind P2 (Arpin) by about 4 seconds. Sandell was P4, but suffered an engine/turbo problem forcing him to pull off late in the race. It was found that the turbo had ingested sand/rocks from a car in front spraying gravel directly into the engine bay, causing it to blow, which in turn potentially damaged the engine. The team was forced to change the engine as a precaution.

P. Sandell (DNF) – “I had a little bit too much wheelspin in the start, then after the first lap I felt more or less directly that something was wrong with the turbo so I pulled back a bit and started to look for alarms. Nothing looked really terrible, but unfortunately on the last lap we had to stop. We are changing the engine and hopefully we can be out and do some more driving today. The feeling was so good today, being up there fighting with everyone at the top, getting P2 in qualifying. I’m super happy for everything that Subaru has done and it’s just unfortunate that we need to swap the engine.”

C. Atkinson (P3) – “Everything is OK. I didn’t have the best balance in that heat, so my lap times weren’t the best we had all weekend. We weren’t catching on the leaders, or losing to them, but we were holding a good pace. Once you get through the first turn, it’s quite hard to pass after that here, so you really have to get a good start and get through turn one. If you can do that well, then you’re in a good position.”




Atko in the mix as the field fought for the holeshot. On the second lap he opted to take the joker, which brought him up to P3 and put him in front of Eriksson and Arpin. As Arpin and Erikson battled in the back, Atko was able to gain some time. Eriksson took the joker and was able to make the pass on Atko for P3. On the last lap, Arpin took the joker and gained back P4.

C. Atkinson (P5) – “It was always going to be difficult from our starting spot in the rear outside. I tried to go high and then cut back inside; I got up beside Arpin, but then got bumped wide and lost a spot. I tried my best, but really tried to drive well and neat and tidy, but the result was still P5 and I’m a bit disappointed with that. ”


Atko nearly false started but caught himself, but it forced the car to bog on the start, he was able to stick with the field through the first lap. On the second lap, Bigham and Eriksson took the joker. Atko took the joker on the final lap and squeezed ahead of Eriksson for P3.


Arpin came down inside onto Atko hard and they bumped heafing into the first turn. Atko launched up the side of Arpin, and into the air, but Akto’s car was ok and continued, but lost time.. Atko recovered and was P4 in front of Eriksson 93 and was able to retain position for a few laps, catching the other Honda of Erikkson 16. Atko took the joker securing P3. He just held off the 93 honda for the last lap while the 16 took the joker. Atko was able to hold position through the last turn and retain a P3 finish.

C. Atkinson (P3) – “I’m happy with top 3, I wanted P2, but I couldn’t quite get Arpin. With the impact we had early on in the first corner, I was happy to just still be going. It shows the car is strong thats for sure. In the end we battled and got in front of the Hondas, so that was good. I think we should be happy with P3, now we’ll see where we are going into the final.”


P1 – T.Foust / VW (4:10.328)

P2 – S.Arpin / Ford (-3.436)

P3 – C.Atkinson / Subaru (-5.986)

P4 – S.Eriksson / Honda (-6.274)

P5 – O.Eriksson / Honda (-6.859)


Patrik had a poor start but was able to beat Bigham to the jump for P4. Patrik took the joker on the second lap and got up to P3 behind DeJong and Speed. While in P3 Patrik had to pull off with a turbo problem. It was discovered that the turbo damage was a result of the preceding incident earlier in the day.

PS (DNF)- “Didn’t really have a good launch, we had a lot of wheelspin so we were not good off the line, but were able to pass some people in the dirt on the first lap. After 2 or 3 laps, I blew the turbo so I pulled off.”


P1 – S.Speed / VW (4:09.026)

P2 – M.DeJong / Honda (-1.981)

P3 – A.Dyne / Ford (-9.310)

P4 – C.Bigham / Ford (-9.537)

DNF – P.Sandell / Subaru


The final was red flagged on opening lap when Speed stalled on course in the first turn. The race was re-started. At the start Atko was pushed wide by several cars bumping each other, he had to make a long, slow u-turn to return to the track, losing nearly 10 seconds and forcing him to be well back at the rear of the field on the first lap. Sandell, starting from the rear of the grid worked his way up to P6 and began to catch P5 and P4 cars with a great drive. He ran out of laps to make a move on P5, and finished P6. Atko slowly gained on the pack after losing time on the first lap incident and settled in behind Sandell toward the end of the race earning P7.

P. Sandell (P6) – “It’s been a day with a lot of ups and downs. We were P2 in qualifying this morning which felt really good, but then we ran into some problems. The team was able to really put it back together in a good way, so I was able to make it out to the final, starting from the back row. My start was good so I was able to pass some people on the outside without over-driving, and the clear goal for the team was to get to the finish line, so I could maybe have pushed a bit more and taken one more spot, but I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to risk the fact that we could not finish. The course was very rough and I played it safe there. So, I drove a bit steady in the final to get to the finish line. I’m super happy for the team that we finally get to finish both cars. We know where we can be fast on the track now, so we should be up there in qualifying tomorrow, so we’ll just do some small things to the car and we should be ready.”

C. Atkinson (P7) – “We knew the start in the middle would be really difficult because you can’t go in or out, you’re just jammed in there and even on the first start I got in a bad position, and on the second start I got pushed wide and up high so that I had to circle around so I was in the back of the field by a long way, all alone really. At least we had good race pace after that and I was able to close the gap, catch some people, and pass some people. It’s good to get two cars in the finish, even though it’s not the result we want, we know we are faster than where we are finishing so we still have a lot to go our way.”


P1 – T.Foust / VW (7:36.875)

P2 – S.Speed / VW (-7.889)

P3 – M.DeJong / Honda (-8.276)

P4 – S.Arpin / Ford (-12.673)

P5 – A.Dyne / Ford (-15.569)

P6 – P.Sandell / Subaru (-16.768)

P7 – C.Atkinson / Subaru (-21.055)

P8 – C.Bigham / Ford (-23.580)

DNF – O.Eriksson / Honda

DNF – S.Eriksson / Honda

Lance Smith (Vermont SportsCar) – “Officially, we missed the mark. Our target was Fifth or higher and we were 6 and 7. So, although we had reasonable reliability for the afternoon, we had some issues this morning that put us on our back foot. In this sport—you know, there was a red flag on the final—the first start for us was better than the second start. Atko got pushed out to the tire barrier and had to circle around to get back onto the track; you can’t predict these things. Patrik started from the rear of the grid, got bumped around hard but ended up finishing 6th. Unless you’re into the first turn in the lead you’ve got a tough road ahead of you. I think if Patrik could have joker’d one more lap earlier, he might have made it to 5th. The cars ran well, they were strong at the end of the day, we can start another race tomorrow. They took heavy abuse and we had no failures around the car; body work, suspension or anything like that, so that was really good. It looks like it went through a fight. All the wheels stayed straight, the car still drives, and the steering still works, so we proved that.”

© Lars Gange & Ben Haulenbeek, 2017