2017 Mid-Season Review: Patrik Sandell
STATS (through 6 of 12 rounds): 10th in Supercar points (240), best finish 5th
POSITIVES: Sandell’s move to Subaru Rally Team USA, one of the most significant offseason shifts in Red Bull GRC history, came with plenty of fanfare and celebration from the Subaru faithful. He is, after all, one of the only drivers in the Supercar class to take a win in each of the past three years, and he proved the car’s capabilities by coming achingly close to the pole in the first of two New England rounds in June.
“It definitely took some time in the beginning to adapt to this car,” he said of the WRX STI. “There are downsides and positives about having a longer car. The positive side is that the balance of the car in the faster corners is just insane. It really gives you a lot of trust, especially when it’s wet, and that’s a plus. The old car was short and the rear was so loose—the Subaru feels a lot more stable.”
NEGATIVES: For all the goodwill and excitement shared by both Sandell and his new team, there hasn’t been much luck to go around. The struggles started in Memphis, when contact in the final led to an early DNF, and continued in Louisville, when missing the semifinals forced both the Swede and teammate Chris Atkinson to miss the main event and up to 50 points.
After missing two rounds of heats in New England due to engine trouble, things looked up in Ottawa as Sandell was on his way to a win in the last heat of the weekend. Unfortunately, former teammate Tanner Foust nipped him at the finish line by a nose—rendering Sandell the only driver on the Supercar grid at the season’s halfway point not to either make it to the podium or capture victory in a heat race.
OUTLOOK: The fact that Sandell hasn’t yet taken a heat win or a podium this season is simply astonishing—and if not for Foust nipping him at the line in Ottawa, it wouldn’t be so. By the end of this weekend in Indianapolis, it shouldn’t be a surprise if he renders that statistic old news, making every driver on the Supercar grid a winner at some point in the season. He can only face so much bad luck before finally breaking through.
Photo credit: Louis Yio