Patrik Sandell Laments Missed Chance at Championship in 2016
Patrik Sandell’s 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross season had plenty of moments that would make most of his competitors jealous. In Dallas, he became the first driver to beat Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross all season long when he got past both Tanner Foust and Scott Speed in the final. Add to that four more podiums scattered throughout the year, and the Swedish rallycross veteran was a lock for the top five in the championship.
But that doesn’t mean he was satisfied.
WATCH: PATRIK SANDELL’S 2016 HIGHLIGHTS Dallas | Los Angeles
Three finishes of eighth or worse in the first nine races of the year meant that Sandell would only barely remain in the hunt for the Supercar title entering the Los Angeles finale. So instead of trying to hold onto the top spot in points as he led most of the last race of the year, he was simply racing for fifth overall—a career best, but still not enough.
“We had five podiums, but at the end of the day, none of that matters because we weren’t in the title fight at the end of the championship,” he admits. “We had a few errors over the season—we had two or three really bad races, and when you have bad weekends like that, you can’t fight for the championship.”
The biggest blow to the championship hopes came in Seattle, where Sandell was the odd man out of a last chance qualifier that featured five past Supercar race winners. Struggling in the wet conditions, he never finished higher than fourth in heats, and a late Joker from Brian Deegan bounced the Swede back to last place and ended his day early. Coming out of that event with only five points drastically diminished his championship chances.
The lessons learned from last season will follow Sandell to his new team, Subaru Rally Team USA, in 2017. Now, in a fresh environment, two principles carry over: everyone has to be on top of their game at every race, and any big risks on the track have to be worth it.
“Moving forward, I learned how important it is that everything is working on a race weekend,” he continues. “I need to be at 100%, the team needs to be at 100%, the car needs to be at 100% if you want to deliver a 100% finish.
“So moving forward, our goal will definitely be to score really good points in every single race, not take the crazy risks to not move up one position if we’re not fighting for the win in that race, and really focus on having a good year all the way through—instead of having two races where we get no points.”
What do you think, Red Bull GRC fans: will Patrik Sandell have another career-best season with Subaru Rally Team USA this year? Be sure to tell us in the comments!