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Red Bull GRC: Sandell switches to Subaru for 2017

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Patrik Sandell will make a big career shift in next season’s Red Bull Global Rallycross, with a switch to the factory Subaru team.

The Swede has been one of Red Bull GRC’s top drivers for several seasons. In his last two years with Bryan Herta Rallysport in a Ford Fiesta ST, he finished eighth (2015) and fifth (2016) in the championship, winning one main event final in each season. His win in Dallas earlier this year was one of the season highlights.

Subaru Rally Team USA grew in competitiveness as the year went on with development of the Subaru WRX-STi and a midseason driver switch from Sverre Isachsen and Bucky Lasek to Chris Atkinson and David Higgins.

“Atko” will be back alongside Sandell next year for his first full Red Bull GRC season, to provide Subaru a strong lineup.

“To finally be a part of the Subaru family is a childhood dream coming true,” Sandell said. “I was watching Subaru cars rallying all over the world as a kid, and I am now very proud to be in those same shoes. Subaru have been able to create a unique passion around its’ brand and cars that I really like, as I am so passionate about both rally and rallycross myself. I am really looking forward to meeting all the Subaru fans out there that share my passion for the sport. It feels like this is where I belong.”

“I enjoyed my first taste of rallycross last year with the team, and it’s clear to see the potential both the team and the car have,” explains Atkinson. “I’m excited to come on board full-time with the squad, and I can’t wait to get started. The guys are working so hard in Vermont in the off-season now to really give Patrik and I something very special to drive in 2017.”

Higgins and Travis Pastrana may enter selected Red Bull GRC rounds, while focusing primarily on the new American Rally Association (ARA).

Red Bull GRC is yet to release its 2017 schedule, but the season has started in mid-to-late May (Fort Lauderdale, 2015 and Phoenix, 2016) the last two seasons. The series runs its races on NBC and NBCSN.

It’s doubtful there will be much other driver movement among the other teams while Herta’s team will need to replace the speedy Swede.

Alexander Rossi’s Grand Prix of Alabama gamble fails to pay off

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Alexander Rossi bobbled for the first time in 2018 with an 11th-place finish in the Honda IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

And to add insult to injury, Rossi also lost the points lead as a result.

Rossi got off to about as great a start to the season as possible. He finished third at St. Petersburg and sat third in the standings. He finished third again at Phoenix and climbed to second in the points.

Rossi won the Long Beach Grand Prix after starting from the pole and leading 71 laps. That put him at the top of the standings after three races.

Then, as quickly as he climbed to the top, he got knocked down a spot after finishing off the podium for the first time in 2018.

Rossi not only missed the podium, he finished outside the top 10.

“We didn’t get the result that we wanted,” Rossi said after the race. “That remains a mystery. But at the end of the day it was about survival. We couldn’t make the tires last; we couldn’t really get a great fuel number.”

The biggest negative was the one factor that was mostly out of his control. Rossi gambled that he was facing only a brief shower when rain began to fall with about 15 minutes remaining. He was wrong.

“We tried to be pretty aggressive on the dry tires and stay out and survive the rain, hoping it would dry out,” Rossi said. “And it didn’t really work.

“Sometimes you’ll have those days.”