Steve Arpin Relishes Loenbro Motorsports’ First Podium in Memphis
The more some things change in Red Bull Global Rallycross, the more others stay the same.
Take Supercar veteran Steve Arpin, for instance. Now in his fifth year as a Red Bull GRC driver, Arpin’s race team evolved into Loenbro Motorsports, not only moving into a new shop in North Carolina but also joining forces with established GRC Lites team AF Racing. The Canadian even added the title of general manager to his driving responsibilities along the way.
And yet, as drastically different as his program looked from the one that earned four podiums in 2016, the results remained the same in Memphis: a third place, his first podium of the season, and more importantly, the first for the reimagined race team.
“It’s incredible—there’s nothing that replaces it, other than a win,” Arpin explained after the victory. “I think the best part is, it speaks volumes to the people that we have. There’s no one person on the team that makes it what it is, it’s each and every one of our contributions to the greater good and the big picture of what makes us strong as a group.”
Arpin’s partnership with Paul and Jon Leach, the owners of Loenbro Motorsports, goes back roughly a decade, to when Arpin built dirt modifieds for the brothers. To this day, Paul Leach serves as Arpin’s spotter at Red Bull GRC events, and Arpin credits the brothers for much of the team’s vision.
“Honestly, when we took the checkered flag last year, one of the biggest reasons Paul and Jon Leach jumped on board to keep on going as Loenbro Motorsports so fast was simply to keep the continuity on our team,” Arpin continued. “Paul said to me, when we first started thinking about doing our own team in rallycross four years ago, ‘It’s all about people—we need to get the right people together, and we can be competitive.’
“You walk through the paddock area and it’s absolutely clear, looking around at the amount of people every manufacturer team has, the sheer numbers of personnel and equipment that they’re working with. For us to be able to put a racecar under me, and to be able to put us on the podium, is a pure testament to people. That’s the end all, be all for us—it’s people.”
The immediate podium was also proof that the team had made the right improvements in the offseason. But Arpin and company know that they weren’t the only ones hard at work; Subaru Rally Team USA took its first heat win with Chris Atkinson in Memphis, and Arpin had to face off with Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE drivers Sebastian Eriksson and Mitchell deJong to take third place in the final.
“We were laser focused on exactly what our weaknesses were last year, we knew exactly what we needed to work on, and we focused on that all winter,” he added. “But clearly, the other teams did too! Everyone has improved, and everyone has done a great job. It’s absolutely crazy to me to think what we’re getting out of these racecars, compared to where we were just a couple of years ago. The level of competition is so much higher.
“Every team has so many of their own unique strengths, but each and every team has their weaknesses, too. We know what ours are, we’re going to continue to work on them, and hopefully continue to improve through the year. But you can never underestimate those other teams—they’re going to be doing the same thing. I would say the benchmark is a fast moving target, and being able to keep up with it is going to be key.”
Photo credit: Louis Yio