• L.Olsen/RX360

PATRIK SANDELL: "It Was My First Proper Rally in America"


(Photo Credit: Subaru Rally Team USA)

(May 25,2018/L.Olsen) It was a bittersweet event for Subaru Rally Team USA at the second round of the American Rally Association's Olympus Rally in Shelton, WA. Team Subaru campaigned two teams, David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew, who are contesting the entire series, and Patrik Sandell and co-driver Per Almkvist who are stepping into select rounds for Travis Pastrana who is unable to commit to a full campaign due to a schedule conflict with his Nitro Circus tour. Day one found Sandell and Almkvist cruising through Stage one, however they ran into a slight setback midway through the run of Stage two, Wildcat, the longest stage of the event. A gearbox failure caused their car to go from 4WD to 2WD. Costing them precious time, fellow competitors Barry McKenna and Leon Jordan were able to pass them on their way to second, putting Sandell and Almkvist into third. By the end of the day the team fought a good fight and were able to work their way back into second place. Unfortunately, their teammates Higgins and Drew were unable to finish the day after having problems on both Stage four and five. The day ended with McKenna and Jordan taking the lead followed by Sandell and Almkvist in second, and Jeff Seehorn and co-driver Karen Jankowski in third. Day two of the rally went off without a hitch for Sandell and Almkvist, but not so for their teammates Higgins and Drew. The same gremlins that plagued Higgins and Drew on day one repeated on day two. Their day ended early after encountering a similar mechanical issue as the day before, causing another DNF. The team that had led Day One, McKenna and Jordan, found themselves out of contention after a broken input shaft caused a loss of power on the first stage. The day ended with Sandell and Almkvist earning the win, Seehorn and Jankowski earning second, and Sam Albert and Michelle Miller taking third. It was an all Subaru-podium. RX360 caught up with Sandell after the event. "It was my first proper rally in America for Subaru," said Sandell. "It was tricky coming here with never having been here before [Olympus Rally] and with writing all new notes. But Per did an excellent job reading [the] notes. We started off Saturday on good pace in the first stage. Then in the second stage we ran into some problems with the car only able to do front wheel drive for the whole stage. We lost 2.5 minutes but were able to fight back; and other teams ran into problems as well. Sunday we were pushing in the morning and then gained another 10 seconds back on the leader. Then he ran into some problems and we got that lead back sooner than expected. I wouldn't say that we cruised to the finish but we were able to keep it steady, and we won."

(Photo Credit: Subaru Rally Team USA)

To prepare for the ARA rally, Sandell and Almkvist competed a few weeks earlier in Rally Sørland, Norway. "We did the rally in Norway to get up to speed for this one and get going with pace notes," said Sandell. "We won that rally in our class. It was a Group N car, so it was not the same speed. It was a really good shakedown in preparation for this rally. So, winning here puts us in good position for rallycross event next weekend." What is appearing to be a great driving team, RX360 asked Patrik how he and Per originally connected. It turns out both he and Per have known each other for years and have competed together from time-to-time in rallies around the globe. "We are from the same town," said Patrik. "I've known him since we were kids. He was actually my first co-driver when I was 18 and he ran with me for a number of years in the beginning of my career. Then he took off to focus on his work life and I continued on with the sport. He's been back with me over the past couple of years. He did a rally with me in Japan a few years ago and a two rallies in China three years ago." RX360 first met Patrik back in 2013 when he began competing in rallycross here in the U.S. We've watched him compete with a few differentteams since then, including Olsbergs MSE. In 2017, Sandell made the announcement that he would be competing in rallycross for Subaru Rally Team USA. We asked Patrik how he likes being with Subaru. "I love it," said Sandall. "When I was a kid I would watch Colin McRae and other drivers for Subaru and I just wanted to be a part of that group. Now finally I am one of the drivers." This season he will be competing in select rounds of American Rally Association, as well as competing in the newly formed Americas Rallycross (ARX) series with its first round on May 25-27, 2018.

ARX Schedule:

Americas Rallycross - Silverstone Circuit, UK: May 25-27

Americas Rallycross - Circuit of the Americas: Austin, TX - July (TBC)

Americas Rallycross - Trois Rivieres, Canada: August 4-5

Americas Rallycross - Circuit of the Americas: Austin, TX - September 29-30

For American Rally Association schedule click here

Photo Credit: Subaru Rally Team USA

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