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23 Jun 2014

GRC: Sandell takes US capital

Category: GRC, News Posted 23.06.14 22:00 by

Swedish former World Rally Championship ace Patrik Sandell has taken the US capital Washington, DC, by winning Round 3 of the Global RallyCross series that was hosted last weekend outside the RFK Stadium.

 

For the year 2002 millions of Dollars were spend by a couple of investors together with the city of Washington, DC, to create a proper race track outside the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (aka RFK Stadium or just RFK). However, after just one American Le Mans Series round in July 2002 the local residents complained about the noise – and the 10 years contract to run annual races was quickly declared nil and void. Now, more than one decade later Round 3 of the Global RallyCross series was hosted at the same venue in the US capital, but at a parking lot on the other side of the stadium. The stadium helped to deaden most of the noise, but it remains to be seen if the neighbourhood has no new complains after last weekend’s event…

 

Former WRC ace Sandell happy about the long awaited Global RallyCross success. © OMSE/QNIGAN/ERC24

Former WRC ace Sandell happy about the long awaited Global RallyCross success. © OMSE/QNIGAN/ERC24

 

Nelson Piquet Jr. and Joni Wiman showering Patrik Sandell with champain. © OMSE/QNIGAN/ERC24

Nelson Piquet Jr. and Joni Wiman showering Patrik Sandell with champagne. © OMSE/QNIGAN/ERC24

 

Kiwi Rhys Millen prior to the event about the half-mile race course with 10 turns and a 75% tarmac to 25% loose surface ratio: “The track is solid, it has a good foundation. Although I feel some things could be changed to make for better racing, the track itself is going to be a great spectacle for the fans that are going to come out here. Areas that are wider and have more gravel on corners, I think, create more opportunities for passing, and more opportunities for mistakes to be capitalized on – which is going to make for even better racing. This is Round 1 of GRC standing alone, and what you’re witnessing straight away is an amazing presentation, so I’m excited. If this is the birth of what’s to come for the remainder of the Global RallyCross championship, it’s going to be an exciting rest of the year.”

 

Washington DC and RFK witnessed its first motor race after 2002. © Red Bull Content Pool/ERC24

Washington DC and RFK witnessed its first motor race after 2002. © Red Bull Content Pool/ERC24

 

The half-mile track with 10 turns offered a 75% tarmac and 25% dirt surface ratio. © Red Bull Content Pool/ERC24

The half-mile track with 10 turns offered a 75% tarmac and 25% dirt surface ratio. © Red Bull Content Pool/ERC24

 

A total of 12 competitors arrived for the event. Australian female Drifter Sarah Burgess, announced by the RFK organisers to take part with a Chevrolet Sonic/Aveo SuperCar, was eventually missing when the practice sessions started. After the first tests had been completed it was Finnish youngster Joni Wiman who had made the fastest time his, second fastest was American Ken Block, ahead of Canadian Steve Arpin who drove the third fastest time here. Qualification/Seeding followed, dominated by Brazilian ex-F1 star Nelson Piquet Jr. who claimed the fastest time from runner-up American ‘Bucky’ Lasek and Ken Block in third place.

 

Sverre Isachsen finished 10th overall with his Subaru Impreza GR... © GD/ERC24

Sverre Isachsen finished 10th overall with his Subaru Impreza GR… © GD/ERC24

 

...while his teammate 'Bucky' Lasek had bad luck in the Final to finish 11th overall. © GD/ERC24

…while his teammate ‘Bucky’ Lasek had bad luck in the Final to finish 11th overall. © GD/ERC24

 

Two rounds of three points paying heats on Saturday (which saw both American VW drivers Scott Speed and Tanner Foust scratched with engine failures) yielded to a pair of six-car Semi-Finals on Sunday, with three cars to transfer from each. Piquet Jr. beat Speed and Wiman in the first, but an issue with penalty administration to Wiman led series officials to allow fourth place finisher Block to advance as well. In the second Semi-Final Arpin, Swede Patrik Sandell and Norwegian Sverre Isachsen transferred, while Foust won the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ).

 

Finn Joni Wiman powering his Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST to third place overall. © OMSE/QNIGAN/ERC24

Finn Joni Wiman powering his Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST to third place overall. © OMSE/QNIGAN/ERC24

 

After two back-to-back victories in Barbados and Austin Scott Speed made it to sixth overall in Washington DC. © Red Bull Content Pool/ERC24

After back-to-back victories in Barbados and Austin Scott Speed made it to sixth overall in Washington DC. © Red Bull Content Pool/ERC24

 

Ken "Hoonigan in Chief" Block and his Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST en route to 7th place. © Red Bull Content Pool/ERC24

Ken “Hoonigan in Chief” Block and his Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST en route to 7th place. © Red Bull Content Pool/ERC24

 

After putting 11 cars onto the line for the first time in the history of the series (due to a penalty administration error) no participating driver failed to finish Sunday’s main event. The clean start was marred only by a jump start from threefold European Rallycross Champion Sverre Isachsen, who quickly yielded to the entire pack in self-correction to avoid a stop-and-go penalty. Piquet Jr. staked his claim to the holeshot, but Sandell managed to get by on the first lap to facilitate an intense battle for the lead all race long.

Patrik Sandell said later on he discovered the secret to success in DC during his initial laps on the tight and technical course. “Racing a track like this is more like driving a karting track than a traditional European-style Rallycross course. You have to be more precise and focus on getting a lot of speed out of the corners – and you must never, ever slide,” he claimed.

Through two days of tough heat racing the Swede never finished lower than second to bypass the Last Chance Qualifier and advance directly to the Final, where he had a front-row starting position. “I knew at the start of the Final that if I could lead through the first corner, I could win and I focused on that,” said Sandell and continued: “and when the light went green, I had a go for it.”

 

Kiwi Emma Gilmour, the only female driver in GRC so far, writing autographs for the fans. © GD/ERC24

Kiwi Emma Gilmour, the only female driver in GRC so far, writing autographs for the fans. © GD/ERC24

 

American teenager Mitchell DeJong is ruling the GRC Lites category. © OMSE/QNIGAN/ERC24

American teenager Mitchell DeJong is ruling the GRC Lites category. © OMSE/QNIGAN/ERC24

 

The Washington DC rostrum of the GRC Lites class with (from left) 'Nelsinho', DeJong and Kevin Eriksson. © OMSE/QNIGAN/ERC24

The Washington DC rostrum of the GRC Lites class with (from left) ‘Nelsinho’, DeJong and Kevin Eriksson. © OMSE/QNIGAN/ERC24

 

Foust seemed set to rebound from two difficult races, but a sick motor dropped the two-time series champion from third to fifth behind Wiman and Arpin, who rebounded after falling from the front row on the start to sixth. Behind them Speed led Lasek cleanly through most of the race, until the latter clipped an obstacle and damaged his drive-train, sending his Subaru into rear-wheel drive and causing a spin that put him to the back of the pack.

American teenager Mitchell DeJong proved once again that he is the class of the current GRC Lites field, posting lap and race times comparable to SuperCar drivers on the way to a victory at Volkswagen Rallycross DC, his second straight win in 2014. OlsbergsMSE teammate Swede Kevin Eriksson and double-duty SuperCar driver Nelson Piquet Jr. eventually completed the Lites podium.

 

  • Round 3, Global RallyCross, RFK Stadium, Washington, DC, USA, 21.–22.06.2014
  • UNOFFICIAL FINAL RESULTS SUPERCARS:
  • 1. Patrik Sandell (S) Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST
  • 2. Nelson Piquet Jr. (BR) Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST
  • 3. Joni Wiman (FIN) Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST
  • 4. Steve Arpin (CDN) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 5. Tanner Foust (USA) VW Polo Mk5
  • 6. Scott Speed (USA) VW Polo Mk5
  • 7. Ken Block (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST
  • 8. Austin Dyne (USA) Ford Fiesta Mk7
  • 9. Rhys Millen (NZ) Hyundai Veloster
  • 10. Sverre Isachsen (N) Subaru Impreza GR
  • 11. ‘Bucky’ Lasek (USA) Subaru Impreza GR
  • 12. Emma Gilmour ♀ (NZ) Hyundai Veloster
  • UNOFFICIAL FINAL RESULTS GRC LITES:
  • 1. Mitchell DeJong (USA) “Ford Fiesta Mk7”
  • 2. Kevin Eriksson (S) “Ford Fiesta Mk7”
  • 3. Nelson Piquet Jr. (BR) “Ford Fiesta Mk7”
  • 4. Austin Cindric (USA) “Ford Fiesta Mk7”
  • 5. Átila Abreu (BR) “Ford Fiesta Mk7”
  • 6. Alejandro Fernández (CO) “Ford Fiesta Mk7”
  • 7. Geoff Sykes (USA) “Ford Fiesta Mk7”
  • 8. Tyler Benson (USA) “Ford Fiesta Mk7”

 

Top photo: Swede Patrik Sandell flying towards his first Global RallyCross series victory. © OMSE/QNIGAN/ERC24