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Fan Voice Friday: Biggest Driver Moves

January 6, 2017
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Subaru’s Launch Control kicked off Red Bull Global Rallycross announcement season on Wednesday, when Patrik Sandell was unveiled as one of Subaru Rally Team USA’s drivers for the 2017 season. He’ll join Chris Atkinson, who debuted with the team late last season, to complete the team’s Supercar lineup in a move that gave the Subaru faithful plenty of reason to celebrate.

The fan reaction behind the Sandell-to-Subaru move has been significant, so that got us thinking: what were some of the other major driver moves in Red Bull GRC history? We’ve picked one for each of the past six seasons—now it’s your job to tell us which was the most meaningful!

Which was the most significant driver move in Red Bull GRC history?

2017: Patrik Sandell to Subaru Rally Team USA

Sandell’s fifth season in Red Bull GRC will see him fulfill a childhood dream as he becomes a Subaru factory driver in 2017. The Swede is one of only three drivers in Red Bull GRC to win a race in each of the past three seasons, the other two being Scott Speed and Tanner Foust. 2016 was Sandell’s best season yet in the Supercar class as he took a win in Dallas, five podium finishes, and fifth place in the championship standings.

2016: Chris Atkinson to Subaru Rally Team USA

The notoriously passionate Subaru fans welcomed Atkinson, a former Subaru World Rally Team driver, to their team with open arms in Atlantic City. He responded by qualifying in the top six that weekend and running toward the front of the pack in heats, earning a front row spot in the Seattle main event, and taking the team’s first pole position in Los Angeles. Those early returns led the team to re-sign him for the 2017 season, his first full year in Red Bull GRC.

2015: Steve Arpin and Brian Deegan to Loenbro Chip Ganassi Racing

After running separately from one another in 2014, Arpin and Deegan joined forces for the 2015 season under the iconic Chip Ganassi Racing banner. The results were solid, if not yet spectacular: both drivers found the podium, while Arpin’s eight top-five finishes that year were on par with eventual champion Scott Speed. The team only improved in 2016 with Deegan taking third in Supercar points, Arpin placing fourth, and both drivers winning a race.

2014: Tanner Foust to Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross

In a move that sent shockwaves through the fanbase, two-time Supercar champion Foust traded in his Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST for a Volkswagen Beetle with Andretti Autosport’s new Red Bull GRC effort in 2014. While the team spent the first half of the season racing the Polo as a stand-in during the Beetle’s development, Foust still took a victory in that car in New York. Two years later, Foust took the Beetle to an unfathomable 25 straight heat and semifinal victories.

2013: Scott Speed to OMSE2

2013 was a big year for GRC, from staging the first rallycross schedule in history to visit three continents in a single season to signing Red Bull as title partner at year’s end. Adding Speed, the Formula 1 veteran turned NASCAR contender, to the driver lineup was a similarly significant move. Making the most of what was originally a one-race deal, Speed won in his debut in Brazil and went on to win again in Charlotte before joining Foust at VARX in 2014.

2012: Travis Pastrana to Pastrana 199 Racing

After nearly a decade of success with Subaru Rally Team USA, Pastrana’s efforts were rewarded with his own factory-backed GRC effort. The creation of a two-car team in his name, running a Dodge Dart built by Olsbergs MSE, was a symbol of the series’ potential for immediate growth in only its second season. In two seasons behind the wheel, Pastrana earned a victory and two podiums in only 10 races.

Photo credit: Larry Chen (1, 3-7); Subaru Rally Team USA (2)