2014 championship challenger Nelson Piquet Jr. finally took the first win of his Red Bull Global Rallycross career in Washington, D.C., defeating last year’s event winner Patrik Sandell to earn what was also the SH Rallycross team’s first victory in the series.
Piquet performed well all weekend, winning both his heat races and his semi final. In fact, the only time he was not atop of the standings was qualifying where he set the second fastest time.
The returning Jeff Ward and 2014 champion Joni Wiman won the other heat races while Bryan Herta Rally Sport driver Sandell won his semi final.
In the LCQ, fastest qualifier Scott Speed advanced to the final along with Joni Wiman, Jeff Ward and Sebastian Eriksson with 2015 series debutants Logan Gomez and Pat Moro failing to make the main event.
The final saw Piquet lead from lights to flag and despite leaving the rest of the field to fight over the remaining two podium spots early on in the eight lap final. In the end the top three were covered by just 1.1 seconds, a tyre rub on the rear of the reigning Formula E champion’s Ford Fiesta closing up the front runners.
Despite the minor damage, Piquet held off Sandell reversing the result of last year’s DC race.
“Patrik kept it clean the whole race and I think it was a little bit of a thank you from last year we were battling together in the same track with me last year,” Piquet said. “He finished first I finished second so that was a good replay of that race”.
Completing the podium was Ken Block, who despite winning three races so far this season, struggled early on in the weekend.
“We struggled a bit this weekend,” Block conceded after the final. “We worked really hard through the weekend and constantly tried to improve what we were doing and it worked out in the end.”
Although making a late charge, Sandell was unable to add to his win last time out in Detroit, allowing Piquet to give James Sullivan’s SH Rallycross outfit their first rallycross win.
“Sulli has been working hard to make the car quicker and more competitive every weekend and we were a bit frustrated the last few weeks with some failures and some bad results,” Piquet said after the race.
“We’ve been together me since the beginning of last year and all these great sponsors have been supporting us for such a long time, they deserve a win and hopefully this is just the first one for the future.”
Steve Arpin and Tanner Foust rounded out the top five, exchanging places late on in the final.
“I think if I could have got by Tanner Foust sooner I think we would have had a shot at the top three,” said the Canadian afterwards.
After DC, Piquet’s long-awaited debut win moves him up to third in the points standings, behind Sebastian Eriksson and Ken Block, who extended his championship lead to 41 points.
Next up is the second of this season’s four double headers in Red Bull Global Rallycross’ home city of Los Angeles on September 12-13.