Red Bull GRC RD4: New England – Full Report

Red Bull GRC Round 4: Thompson, CT – Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park EVENT DATE: 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


SUNDAY 6/4/17


Sandell felt a problem with the turbo and pulled off and returned to the pits. Atko had 2 solid laps in the 50 second range and qualified P5, less than half a second off of P1.

P1 – T. Foust / VW (49.631)

P2 – S. Eriksson / Honda (49.791 / -0.160)

P3 – S. Arpin / Ford (49.897 / -0.266)

P4 – S. Speed / VW (49.928 / -0.297)

P5 – C. Atkinson / Subaru (50.082 / -0.451)


Sandell had a good start but contacted another driver. He pushed hard and made an early pass on Dyne, then reeled in Bigham. With 3 laps to go, he took the joker and was able to secure P2, but on the next lap, Bigham used his joker and squeezed between the Honda in P1 and Sandell.

P. Sandell (P4) – “We had a good start, but then the steward felt we changed lanes too early on the start so they moved us down one spot; I was up in 3rd and going really good actually. The car felt good, and now we’re doing a few tweaks before the next heat so I feel like it can be even better.”


Atko started in the back of the pack early on, but kept pace behind speed while the top 3 drivers all took the joker. Atko followed Speed into the Joker on the final lap and stayed P5 just behind Speed. It was Atko’s strategy that if he couldn’t be P1, then P5 was next best for him, in order to set him up for good grid position in the next heat. This enabled an inside grid position.

C. Atkinson (P5) – “We were in a tough heat. The fastest guys were in there and there was a bit of fighting in the front with the four guys in front of me, so I just followed them through the dirt. We had a good lap pace and did some good lap times, but overall we couldn’t get past anyone. I just stayed with Speed the whole race and kind of followed him, but we weren’t going to be able to make a move. I’m happy with that, the feeling of the car, the balance of the car and how that’s all working. I knew P5 was actually good for us in terms of grid position going into the next heat, so it’s ok.”


Atko’s grid position set him up flawlessly for a P3 acquisition in the first turn. Dyne and DeJong took the Joker on the second lap. Sandell took the joker with 3 laps to go leaving Atko the last to take the joker from P5 (7.2s behind P1). On the final lap, Atko took the joker and just squeezed behind Speed for P2 at the conclusion, finishing just over half second behind Speed.

C. Atkinson (P2) – “We’re really happy with this heat result, we were back a bit after the start, but we managed to put in some good laps once the others jokered and gained some time on other people. In the end we finished just half a second off of Speed, so we’re pretty happy with that. The car feels good, I’m really happy with it at the moment. We’re not making any changes and we’re happy with how it’s working today and just pushing on. We’ve got fast lap pace, so it’s all about getting clean air and using the joker to our advantage.”

P. Sandell (P5) – “We had a good start, but we got pushed out a bit in the first corner, so we were down to fourth maybe. We had a hard time getting power coming out of the corners, so we’re doing some small changes now before the semi final. In the end we felt good for only ending up P5 in the heat though.”


Heat 3 was cancelled by GRC officials in order to tighten up the schedule as heavy rain was coming.


Great start by both drivers, P4 and P3 after the first turn. All of the cars were pretty close together throughout the first few laps. Early on, the joker was utilized by Honda and Dyne. Sandell followed the Honda through the joker and was in P2 up until the final few laps where Arpin used his joker to take P1, putting Sandell in P3. With 2 laps to go, Atko used his Joker putting him in P2 behind Arpin and in front of the Honda putting Sandell in P4. On the final lap Sandell made a great pass on the Honda after the jump securing P3 while Atko retained P2.

C. Atkinson (P2) – “We’re pretty happy with that. Second and third for the team. We had a pretty good race and managed to move up a few spots on the joker so I think we took our strategy to a good result in the semi. We got a better start position in the final and should have a good start to the final.”

P. Sandell (P3) – “I had a good start and got away good. It was a great battle throughout the whole heat; I was able to pass the Honda over the jump and get the inside line into the next corner. I’ve got myself into a good position going into the final so we’re pretty happy with that.”


P1 S. Arpin / Ford (4:11.826)

P2 C. Atkinson / Subaru (-1.038)

P3 P. Sandell / Subaru (-2.060)

P4 S. Eriksson / Honda (-3.100)

P5 A. Dyne / Ford (-4.238)


Great launch by both Atko and Sandell again, with Atko P3 and Sandell P5 on the first lap. On lap 3, Atko took the joker with Tanner Foust and Steve Arpin. While in P6, Sandell puts up a good fight and is right on the bumper of Speed during laps 4 through 7; and he holds off for the joker. Meanwhile Atko chases Arpin and gets chased by DeJong. On lap 6 Tanner Foust (VW) hits the tire barrier and DNF’s from the race. Sandell takes joker on lap 8 with no traffic around. At the end, all the eyes are on Steve Aprin (P1), Atko(P2) and DeJong (P3) as they anticipate when Scott Speed will take the joker. Speed takes it on the final lap and just barely overtakes Atko at the joker exit just before finish. Atko still takes P3 and Sandell takes P5.

C. Atkinson (P3) – “I’m so pumped! It’s almost a relief just to get that result under our belts. It’s my first podium and it feels good to do it for the team they’ve worked so hard. It’s just a really nice thing to get the ball rolling and go from here. We got a pretty good start and slotted in with the fast guys which is where we wanted to be and we were able to run some really good laps; followed the leaders when they jokered. I knew that if we stuck with them and kept them in sight that we could probably podium and we ran right with them and even Foust wasn’t disappearing off into the distance; we could see him the whole time up the road. I kept trying to just do quick lap after quick lap and Speed would take the joker late. It worked out and we got the result we were after.”

P. Sandell (P5) – “We are absolutely happy. It was a great final. We didn’t really have a great starting spot, but we were able to manage the first 2 or 3 corners really good and my spotter Mattias was able to spot me through really good. After that, I was able to stay on Speed’s bumper for all the laps until he took the joker. Maybe we could have waited one lap for the joker, but I don’t know that it would have done anything for us in the end. It was more or less the starting position, but I’m super happy for Subaru, for Chris, for the team, and now we have a good base to build from.”


P1 – Arpin / Ford (7:33.263)

P1 – Speed / VW ( -1.968)

P3 – Atkinson / Subaru (-2.384)

P4 – DeJong / Honda (-3.125)

P5 – Sandell / Subaru (-5.562)

P6 – Eriksson / Honda (-23.934)

P7 – Dyne / Ford (-1Lap)

P8 – Eriksson / Honda (-1 Lap)

P9 – Foust / VW (- 3 Laps)

Lance Smith (Vermont SportsCar): “Basically, our goal was to get into the top 5. We’ve had a very positive result, we were in the top 5 in the end and in the top 3, so we came away from the weekend with a good result. Now it’s easy to see our progress, it’s not just that we’ve had a very fast qualifying time. We were able to actually put it together today, and work for the results; it’s very good for the whole team.”


Scott Speed, 288

Tanner Foust, 269

Steve Arpin, 268

Mitchell deJong, 244

Sebastian Eriksson, 215

Oliver Eriksson, 203

Cabot Bigham, 170

Chris Atkinson, 168

Austin Dyne, 156

Patrik Sandell, 147


Volkswagen, 19

Honda, 16

Subaru, 13

© Lars Gange & Ben Haulenbeek, 2017