Patrik Sandell once again signalled his intent at the first Red Bull Global Rallycross rounds of the 2016 in Phoenix by topping the opening two practice sessions and being in the thick of the podium fight all weekend.
While Tanner Foust and Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross left Arizona with a brace of main event wins, it was Sandell who laid claim to the title of ‘best of the rest’, just 31 point off the championship lead.
Now with the first two rounds in the books, the Swede believes he has what it takes to mount a solid challenge for this season’s championship title and emerge at the top of an incredibly competitive field.
“For sure it’s going to be a super tough season. The level is incredibly high, Speed and Foust have really showed amazing speed this year and I know it from the past as well so I think definitely we have the speed to be able to fight for the championship with everybody,” said Sandell. “Hopefully we can have some of the luck on our side this year because we didn’t have any of that last year – when my car stopped when I was leading in the final in Detroit, and we got a red flag against us when we were leading by far at the military base, so if we can have a few of those things with us, I’m pretty sure we are going to be able to fight for the championship at the end of this season.”
Although often one of the fastest drivers in the field, Sandell was the victim of cruel luck last season. This year, the Bryan Herta Rallysport driver belives that consistency will be key to his championship challenge.
“It’s all about scoring points in every race so I will race hard because I know I need to be in front of those two Volkswagens to be able to beat them at the end of the year,” he said. “But I will not risk everything to do that anyhow because I know it’s so easy to end up in the back of the pack in the final and then you get zero points instead of 40, 45, or 50, so I will not tell you my but I can do that after really.”
As well as remaining consistent Sandell admits that his team will need to improve their second-day performance at double header events.
“As a driver, I’m very quick to learn a track because I’m used to learning a track after just seeing it two times at a slow place from stage rally so I pick it up pretty quick and we as a team are also very quick to get up to speed and we are normally really fast on the first day of a double header and then people try everything they can to catch up with us,” said the former Junior World Rally Champion. “We just need to learn to take those next steps so we also step it up from day one to day two. We didn’t really do that in Phoenix. In the first race we had a fantastic car and we were super fast out of the box in the first and second practice and then that was the level we kept throughout the weekend so we need to keep on working during the race weekend and try to improve our speed over the whole weekend.”