EVENT DATE: Sat 6/17
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: 0.762 miles (1.226 km)
TRACK SURFACE: Pavement 64.2% / Dirt 35.8%
JOKER LAP: The joker and regular lap were reversed for Sunday, meaning the joker lap was a ‘longer lap’ rather than shortcut. 0.718 miles (1.156 km)
JUMP TYPE: Dirt tabletop / Flying finish
RED BULL GRC POWERBLOCK: OTTAWA II SEMIS/FINALS
Atkinson: P6 / Sandell: P4
C. Atkinson – “We’re pretty happy to go in the second group. We could have improved on our second outing, but we didn’t bother to go back out and took the Heat 1A group. A bit of strategy there; we weren’t going to get first or second, so it’s better to get sixth or seventh based on how GRC does the grids for the heats..”
P. Sandell – “Good qualifying, I’m happy with P4. We went out one more time and set a really good time very close to third; just two tenths or so. I think that’s the best we can really do right now, Volkswagen is still a bit ahead, but we’re just right there so definitely a good step forward for Subaru.”
Atko started first lap in P3, made a pass at the end of the first lap for P2. Atko held P2 to the last lap and then took the joker and was able to retain P2 at the conclusion of the heat.
C. Atkinson – “Honestly, I had a pretty terrible start, but managed to move up to P2 quite easily. I couldn’t close the gap to the leader and had a half spin which cost us a bit of time, but still finished second so that’s great.”
Sandell had a good start, but there was some heavy fighting on the first few corners and he got pushed wide lost ground, falling to P5 within the first lap. In P5 Patrik took the joker early on with Arpin and went on to finish P5.
P. Sandell – “I had a really good start and clear shot more or less as P1 in the second corner, but then I just got t-boned by Speed and ended up in the grass having to fight back. So then I was just at the tail of fourth and third, but still in the back.”
Sandell P2 (later assessed time penalty dropping to P5)
Patrik had a great start and was in P2 on the first lap behind Arpin. Arpin declined Joker on the second lap, so Patrik jumped in and made a nice pass in the hairpin on the #16 Honda for P2 which he held for the rest of the race. After the race the stewards assessed a 3 sec penalty on Sandell for rough driving, saying the pass on the Honda and an earlier incident was too rough. The team protested vigorously.
P. Sandell – “I had to drive in defense because Oliver was on me the whole time. To me it was a good pass. GRC was unsure about it but said I was rough in another corner earlier in the race, so they gave me the penalty. I do not agree with it at all but I can’t focus so much on that and have to just keep going.”
Clean start by Atko from the P5 Grid position, Atko ran with the pack and made a move on the #24 Honda on the hairpin after the jump. He retained P4 from that pass and took the joker with 3 laps to go. He and #24 Honda were the first to joker. With 2 laps to go, Foust spun. Atko took P4 which was the position he wanted to set a better grid position in the final heat. C. Atkinson – “The target was that if you weren’t first in that heat to be fourth for us so that puts us in a decent position for the next heat. We were fighting with the Hondas a bit there and just missed out to them, but like I said, we’d rather be fourth than third, so I’m not too worried about that.”
Sandell P2 / Atkinson P3
Clean racing by both Subarus, Sandell took the lead on the opening lap with Atko in P2 just behind. Atko jokered on the second lap which dropped him to P4, but Atko soon closed the gap on the P3 Honda, which had not jokered yet. Sandell was in P1, keeping Foust behind him consistently each lap. Foust took the joker with 2 laps to go while Sandell waited for the final lap to joker. Sandell retained a near perfect margin for the final laps, but after taking the joker on the final lap Foust narrowly beat Sandell at the finish line, by just 3 hundredths of a second, a photo finish! Atko finished P3.
C. Atkinson – “It went reasonably well! We got a good start, but always when you’re on the inside there you’re in trouble for turn two. Patrik had a good run up the inside so I let him go with that, then tried to fight with the Honda to slow them up which cost me some time, but gave Patrik some clean air as well. I would have liked to try to follow him through, but got pushed out. After that we took the joker and came out behind the Honda again, but we had good speed so we were able to get in front of him for P3. WIth Patriks P2 it was really good for the team.” P. Sandell – “We had a really good heat, trying to be careful in the start by not hitting people and finding a line on the inside and just trying to do clean laps. It was such a close finish with Tanner, overall it felt really good, to be able to fight with Tanner like that is good.”
Atkinson: P4 / Sandell: P5
Both Subarus got off to a very fast start, but had jumped the start, and were served a 2 joker penalty. Atko made the holeshot and was able to put some distance on a Honda and Speed while Sandell opted for the joker on the second lap. Atko and Sandell were forced to joker twice during the race, dropping them to P4 and P5 respectively. C. Atkinson – “We knew from the back row that we had to get a good start, so I tried to anticipate it a bit and just jumped the start. It put us out in front, but we had to double-joker and that cost us about four seconds at the end. The car actually felt really good; we had good pace, and even with the double-joker we actually weren’t that far off second and third place so that’s encouraging. Unfortunately that means a back row start for the final, but anything can happen. That turn one and two can be pretty crazy, we’re just going to have to find our way through there and hopefully run some good laps, get some clean air and shoot for the top 5.” P. Sandell – “So, I got dragged into the jumped start a little bit; Atko jumped and he was next to me so I just went with it. When one car moved, I moved. Having to take the Joker twice was the penalty. People are driving very aggressively right now which I don’t like; I don’t want to be the guy starting to hit people back. I just tried to keep it clean and get to the finish.”
Sandell: P7 / Atkinson: P9
Atko got a great start but was hit hard by a Honda in turn 1 nearly spinning him out. He recovered quickly but was then hit by Arpin on the side which pushed him into the tire barrier, causing his car to roll. The car landed on its tires and was able to restart but was heavily damaged. The race was red flagged and Atko’s mechanics had just a few minutes to change the damaged tires and tape together the bodywork. Amazingly the car was able to restart the Final. Atko was able to finish the entire final achieving a P9. Sandell fought hard from a P9 grid position to move up to P7 where he stayed for a majority of the race, unable to move further up the field in the rough and dusty conditions.
C. Atkinson – “We got an awesome start, but I got hit hard by one of the Hondas and nearly spun, but got back around the outside to move from the back row up to about P5, then turning into turn 3, Arpin hit me in the side and sent me straight into the tires which flipped me over. Amazingly, the car was straight; I could have just kept running straight away. I jumped right on the starter button, but they red-flagged the race. The car was pretty beat up, but was still running strong. Even on the restart, I got a mega start again! I was up beside a few people, but I was having a hard time seeing with the bonnet so far up so I had to back out of it a little bit. I basically just wanted to get to the finish. We got some points at the end of the day, but it’s a shame for the team to get only a P7 and P9 at the end. Yesterday we had a P4 which was encouraging. We know we have the speed to be on the podium, so we just have to look forward to the next one.” P. Sandell – “I’m not happy with the weekend overall, but I am happy at the same time about some things. We for sure didn’t get the result that we deserve and wanted, but again, we really showed speed, and we really showed that we are a team that will fight for podiums when we get everything together. Like today with P4 in qualifying, almost winning a heat against Tanner in the fast group. We definitely are showing progress, we see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
LANCE SMITH / PRESIDENT – VERMONT SPORTSCAR
“We are going home with some very well used cars. We ran well all weekend, but the cars took a real beating. The course was very very rough, with large rocks, ruts and some big impacts from the jumps, plus we had one car roll over. It will be a solid two weeks worth of work in front of us to get the cars repaired. Pretty big work. I’d say the highlight of the weekend was Sandell’s battle with Foust, that was pretty good to see where our cars are running at. We were able to keep up with the championship leader, whose been fastest all year, so we are getting there.”
CYRUS HOUSE / LEAD TECHNICIAN – #55 SUBARU WRX STI (ATKO)
“With these temporary GRC tracks they bring in dirt and it’s always different. At this event they brought in very coarse gravel, and it was very aggressive with big rocks mixed in. It was loose and so it creates ruts, and we found that the cars were getting alot of gravel damage, almost like a stage rally car. We did a few media rides and practice laps on friday and the bodywork was basically destroyed just from that. So as a team we had to come up with some ideas to add protection to the cars to get them through the weekend. We worked late Friday and built some protection and built some things similar to what our stage rally cars have, underbody protection, extending mud flaps to limit gravel spray further back on the car. It all worked well actually. We had good speed saturday and the car survived, the car is very worn but we made it, and earned a 4th place finish.
It was tough to see Atko roll in the final on Sunday, but as soon as we saw him land on his wheels, fire it up and continue we knew we had to dive in and fix the car. We are very limited on what we can fix in a red flag situation, you have just a few minutes to basically just fix body work and change damaged tires. We only had 2 nominated spare tires/wheels for the car to replace, but he really needed more, so he was sent out with a badly damaged rear wheel. We taped up the body panels, checked the roll cage which was OK, and we were able to send him back out to race and he was able to finish the race. Pretty amazing really.
RED BULL GRC RD6 FINAL RESULTS
P1 – Tanner Foust, #34 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross
P2 – Scott Speed, #41 Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross
P3 – Mitchell deJong, #24 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE
P4 – Sebastian Eriksson, #93 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE
P5 – Oliver Eriksson, #16 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE
P6 – Austin Dyne, #14 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
P7 – Patrik Sandell, #18 Subaru Rally Team USA
P8 – Cabot Bigham, #2 Bryan Herta Rallysport
P9 – Chris Atkinson, #55 Subaru Rally Team USA
P10 – Steve Arpin, #00 Loenbro Motorsports
Tanner Foust, 418
Steve Arpin, 391
Scott Speed, 381
Mitchell deJong, 372
Sebastian Eriksson, 330
Oliver Eriksson, 312
Chris Atkinson, 278
Austin Dyne, 269
Cabot Bigham, 261
Patrik Sandell, 240
Reports by Vermont SportsCar Communications.