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Red Bull GRC Memphis: Move of the Race

May 3, 2017
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If anyone earned a podium finish in Red Bull Global Rallycross Memphis the hard way, it was Loenbro Motorsports’ Steve Arpin.

From the process of simply getting to the track—one that involved not only the team’s evolution into its current form, but also Arpin serving dual roles as driver and team general manager—to overcoming engine issues on Friday, the fifth-year Supercar driver hung tough with the factory teams as usual during the season opener. When all was said and done, he grabbed third place in the main event, and was even gaining on the leaders at the time the checkered flag fell.

But by no means was it an easy fight. Just a handful of laps into the final, Arpin was already up to fourth place, not only battling Mitchell deJong for the bronze but also pressuring the Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE rookie to take a very early Joker Lap to keep the position.

“Mitchell got loose coming out of the dirt, I believe it was on the second or third lap, and we got a really good run down the backstretch,” Arpin explained. “We really focused a lot on that area—it was my weak point all weekend long, so we made changes all the way through and got the car really tuned up.

“We got an awesome run, got to the inside of Mitchell, and it’s kind of a deceiving corner there because it starts as a gradual entry but tightens up into a bottleneck extremely fast. We both went through there absolutely door-to-door, leaned on each other, he ended up diving into the Joker, and I ended up getting a great run through the main track that time.”

Arpin, whose 2016 season saw a career-best four podiums as well as his first Red Bull GRC victory, looked to pick up where he left off last year on the Memphis banks. He won his first heat of the weekend, but slid back to fourth in the final round of heats and brought up the rear of his semifinal to start at the back of the grid for the main event.

But, as he’s proven time and again, it takes a lot more than that to deter Arpin.

After deJong Jokered, the stage was set for a big move, and so it came just before the halfway point: Arpin Jokered into third, put deJong firmly behind him, and never looked back.

“Luckily enough, I was able to pass the other Honda through Turn 1 the next time around, so that gave me a clear track to Mitchell,” he continued. “We worked on our car so much throughout the weekend and made it better each and every time we were on the racetrack. That gave me the opportunity to catch right back up to Mitchell, even though he had taken the Joker, and get by him again.

“We really capitalized on our Joker, and it was able to put us on the podium. I just wish I had done it all maybe one lap sooner and been able to race those VWs—we were closing fast, and it would have been fun to be in a race with those boys at the end!”

Photo credit: Louis Yio