Subaru Rally Team USA has put in even a bigger effort than I could have hoped for over the off-season. The VT17X Subaru STI is not just a slight redesign, it is a complete re-think of everything in the car. In making such large changes we have needed to start from scratch with a lot of the basic setup of the car and that almost inevitably will put us on the back foot in the first part of the season, but as we start to understand everything we will unlock the full potential of the car.
It is impossible to test for every scenario and therefore the first part of the race weekend has to be used in part for understanding the car in the specific conditions. In Memphis it would be the first time we have run the car on a banked oval, so we had to see how it would perform in these conditions and then adjust for that.
It was not only the chassis the team had be working on, they were also looking at improving our launches as this is so important in rallycross. Straight away the improvement over last year was evident, in both of my first two heats I was able to get the hole shot. In heat one we unfortunately got a puncture and fell back to third, but in heat 2 I was able to get some clear air and lead from start to finish, which was awesome. This makes such a difference! When you are midfield you are getting hit from every side and this can knock some of the cars alignment out and make it a bit more difficult to drive, making it hard to close the gap back to the leaders.
For the semis and final in Memphis we didn’t end up with the best grid positions which meant we couldn’t really show what was possible. The encouraging part is that car #00 (Steve Arpin) who we had been on pace with or quicker than all weekend ended up on the podium. This shows the car has great potential and we are not even close to unlocking it all yet. In the final P5 was in reach, when a technical problem developed and we were forced to slow, it was an electrical glitch somewhere. Unfortunate but at least not something major
I am so proud of the effort and hard work the team have put in just to get the cars to the grid. We know the car is good, we know the team is good! Now we just have to keep working hard, and look forward to Louisville.