2017 Year in Review: Patrik Sandell
FINISH: 8th in Supercar points
2017 RESULTS: 12 starts, 3 podiums, 2 heat wins, 582 points
2016 RESULTS: 11 starts, 1 win, 5 podiums, 2 heat wins, 436 points
THE GOOD: In the second half of the season, months of hard work and team development by Subaru Rally Team USA enabled Sandell to reclaim his status as one of Red Bull GRC’s top drivers. With three podiums in his final five races of the season, including back-to-back third place finishes in Seattle and Los Angeles, the Swede took the fight to Scott Speed and Tanner Foust. He even earned a pole in Seattle as Subaru drivers swept qualifying in the doubleheader.
The first podium, however, was the most impressive. Dodging wheel-to-wheel contact from others in Atlantic City, Sandell jumped out to an early and massive lead. Speed eventually clawed back to steal the win, relegating the Subaru to second place, but Sandell held on regardless to earn a trophy in New Jersey for the second year in a row—and the first for his manufacturer at its home event.
THE BAD: Although Sandell upped his career podium total to 15, his three-year win streak fell by the wayside in his first season with Subaru. There were a number of early struggles for the new partnership, including a DNF in Memphis, DNS in the Louisville final, and only one top-five result in the first half of the season, as driver and team worked together to refine the car.
Those growing pains held Sandell out of five heats over the course of the season, including a Sunday heat in Atlantic City the day after his first podium of the year. They also relegated him to ninth or 10th in the finishing order on four separate occasions. Fortunately, only one of those occurrences came in the second half of the year, a clear sign of sustained improvement.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “I’m so happy and pleased with the progress we’ve made this season. We’ve ended the season on a high note with great momentum. Thank you to Subaru and the crew at Vermont SportsCar for all the effort this year, it’s a pleasure to work with this team and the support from our fans is tremendous. We’re really looking forward to next year.”
2018 PROGNOSIS: If Sandell holds his 2017 second-half form throughout the 2018 season, he could be on track for his highest championship finish yet.
Photo credit: Louis Yio