Red Bull GRC 2017 Season Preview: Mitchell deJong
TEAM: #24 Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic Coupe
2016 RESULTS: 2 starts, best finish 8th; 24 points, 16th overall (Supercar)
2016 IN REVIEW: Almost two full years after his most recent Red Bull GRC appearance, where he celebrated a GRC Lites title that saw him win seven of nine races, deJong finally got his chance in a Supercar for last year’s season finale in Los Angeles. The results weren’t what driver and team had been hoping for, as the Californian was unable to crack the podium, but after posting the second-fastest lap in the first round of qualifying, he showed he still had the speed.
WHAT’S NEW: As Olsbergs MSE returns to a three-car, full-time operation in 2017, deJong gets the call for full-time duty alongside fellow Lites champ Oliver Eriksson and returning driver Sebastian Eriksson. It’ll mark the first time that OMSE has fielded an American driver full-time since 2013, and the first time that three Honda Civic Coupes have competed against one another in a Supercar season opener, as the team looks to return to its winning ways.
OUTLOOK: Looked at as a can’t-miss kid on his way up, deJong was impressive once again this winter, earning three podiums and the championship in RallyX on Ice in February and March. Finally, he gets a chance to spend a full year in a Supercar with OMSE, and we get to see if the skills he’s developed in Lites translate with twice as much horsepower. Based on how the past decade has gone in lower formulas, it won’t be a shock if deJong shakes up the standings.
Photo credit: Larry Chen