Sandell Set for ARX Title Challenge in Final Rounds
Current Americas Rallycross (ARX) points leader Scott Speed will be sidelined for the remaining two events on the schedule with a back injury, Subaru Motorsports USA teammate Patrik Sandell is now effectively the leading Subaru WRX driver in the standings.
The Swede enters the fifth round at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas this weekend nine points behind Andretti Autosport’s Tanner Foust in the standings but, says he isn’t feeling any extra pressure to fight for the title in Speed’s absence.
“Now that Scott is unable to compete, extra pressure? No, not really. My aim has always been to win the championship and it feels like I’ve been on a roll lately. I’m feeling very confident with the car and with the team, so I’m just going to go to COTA and try to keep riding that wave and keep doing my thing,” said Sandell.
The former rally-ace turned rallycross star took his first-ever ARX victory at the ARX of Gateway earlier this season and his strategy for the remaining rounds is clear.
“The strategy is just to try to score more points than Tanner at any time, try to be smart in the qualifying heats and really try to make the best out of it. COTA is a very special track, it’s very hard to pass, so it will come down a lot to the start and to joker strategies. But, we’ve been good with that this year, so we just need to try and stay ahead of him, through qualifying, the semis and finals. If we do that in both rounds that should give us the win.”
The Vermont SportsCar run Subaru Motorsports USA team showed good speed at the Austin circuit 12 months ago, and with significant developments to the WRX STI platform, Sandell and teammate Chris Atkinson can enter the penultimate round of the season this week in a confident mood.
“I think we have a good package from last year that we can still use some pieces from, and we have taken quite a big step with the car from that time too. I think we will go there with a faster car than we left with last year, and I think we have taken a bigger step than the competitors so hopefully we can show some good speed. Last year, I went to COTA with the mindset of securing third place in the championship and this year, I don’t care about anything except winning the championship. I’m going to go all-in for the win and I know that we need to start to score more points than Tanner. My plan is to creep that gap at least to half of what it is now in COTA, and then really put pressure on him in the last round to take the win.”
Subaru Motorsports USA has not yet announced if it will run a substitute driver in the #41 WRX STI in place of Speed.