Patrik Sandell didn’t buckle under the pressure put on him by Nelson Piquet Jr. throughout much of the Volkswagen Rallycross DC final and picked up his first career Red Bull Global Rallycross win today at RFK Stadium in Washington.
Piquet’s No. 75 WIX Filters/SH Racing Rallycross Ford Fiesta ST remained within a couple of car lengths of Sandell’s No. 18 Kobalt Tools/Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST in the final laps, but Sandell was able to put together a mistake-free run.
“I was trying to do every lap, just try to focus, go on the same lines, and not do any mistakes,” Sandell told NBC after his victory. “And then when I crossed the finish line, I was so extremely happy. It’s unbelievable. The team has done a perfect job, and my Kobalt Fiesta was insanely good.
“My spotter, Andreas, did a really good job. He helped me to push when I should push and go steady when I should go steady. I thank the team, they did a fantastic job.”
Piquet was unable to reel in Sandell, but his runner-up effort enabled him to pull within one point of championship leader Scott Speed, 135-134, heading into next month’s race in New York.
Speed had opened the year with two straight wins, but finished sixth in today’s final. Both he and Andretti Autosport teammate Tanner Foust (who finished fifth) had to overcome mechanical problems yesterday with their respective Volkswagens.
Completing a Ford lockout of the podium was one of Sandell’s teammates, 2013 GRC Lites champion Joni Wiman, in his No. 31 Red Bull/Bluebeam Fiesta ST. Another Ford racer, Steve Arpin (No. 00 Royal Purple/OMSE2 Fiesta ST), finished fourth.
Today’s final was a historic one for the series, as an 11th car was added to the main event.
In the first semifinal heat, Wiman jumped the start and was hit with a stop-and-go in the penalty box. However, he was supposed to be released from the box when the main line of cars had gone past.
Instead, he was released almost immediately after stopping, and slipped into the third and final transfer position on the track ahead of Ken Block.
Block couldn’t get past Wiman, and it appeared that the Gymkhana star would have to compete for a spot in the final by running the Last Chance Qualifier.
But Red Bull GRC officials caught the release error on the Wiman penalty and put Block directly into the final, where he would finish seventh.
Red Bull GRC will return to action on July 19-20 with their New York round at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. NBC will carry the final LIVE on July 20 at 2 p.m. ET.
VOLKSWAGEN RALLYCROSS DC – FINAL
1. 18-Patrik Sandell
2. 75-Nelson Piquet Jr.
3. 31-Joni Wiman
4. 00-Steve Arpin
5. 34-Tanner Foust
6. 77-Scott Speed
7. 43-Ken Block
8. 14-Austin Dyne
9. 67-Rhys Millen
10. 11-Sverre Isachsen
11. 81-Bucky Lasek