Steve Arpin is gearing up for his Americas Rallycross debut at the Circuit of Americas this weekend.
The three-time Global Rallycross race winner skipped the season opener at Silverstone as he finalised the details of his Loenbro Motorsports team’s new tie-up with Hoonigan.
Arpin is the latest driver to move over from the now-defunct GRC series, but he admitted that the uncertainty surrounding American rallycross over the winter left him with some doubts over the future of his own rallycross programme.
“I’m a race car driver and typically every off-season there’s doubts over whether you’re going to be racing the next year. The off-seasons for me, from the moment the chequered flag drops and throughout the entire winter, is always one of the most stressful times,” he told The Checkered Flag. “With the drama and everything that went on this off-season, it was definitively tough.”
“There were some scary times to say the least but to talk about all the opportunities that have come with the change, one of the things our team owner Paul Leach always said to us was ‘In every situation, whenever there’s change, there’s opportunity, it’s just a matter of capitalising on it,’ and that’s what we did.”
Arpin will campaign a Ford Focus RS RX this season, a car that has been run in the World Rallycross championship for the last two years, albeit with limited success. Loenbro Motorsports has taken over development of the M-Sport-built cars, overhauling them over the winter.
“We teamed up a little bit last year with Ford and Hoonigan and their WRX programme and did some consulting on some of their test programmes, so it gave us a little bit of an insight of the car and what its tendencies are. We’re extremely confident that we could take what they built, continue its development and build on it further,” Arpin said. “That being said, since we got the cars, our guys have been full tilt, day and night, week days and weekends, and we’ve made a lot of changes.”
“We’ve taken a lot of what we’ve learned over the last couple of years and incorporated that into this car and really taken a lot of strengths that this car had and tried to hone those as well, so that’s where we stand,” he added. “We had our (first) test last week and I think were going to be in a pretty good spot.”
The Focus RS RX only managed three wins during its time in the world championship – all coming in 2016 – but despite that, Arpin has no doubts over the car’s potential now it’s in his team’s hands. Arpin ran an M-Sport Fiesta for the last three seasons, taking three wins and challenging for championship titles, despite the lack of factory support.
“I grew up building race cars, building dirt modifieds and what not, and was involved in all of it. The reality is it’s all just a bunch of steel, and it’s a matter of telling it to do what you want it to do,” he said. “I’ve always been very confident. The biggest thing I have confidence in is I’ve got the best group of guys”
“We’re led by Carl Goodman on the engineering side, but it’s by no means just Carl – he’s got an entire group of guys that are all contributing to his plan and what we’re trying to accomplish as a team and that’s ultimately where my confidence lies, so you put any piece of steel in the shop and I’m confident we can make it go fast.”
Looking ahead to the remaining three rounds and beyond in ARX, Arpin has set his sights firmly on success right out of the box.
“I would expect nothing less,” he insisted when asked if wins were the aim right away.