19 Aug 2019
Patrik Sandell remained positive despite narrowly missing out on victory in the Nitro Rallycross event at the Nitro World Games.
The Subaru Motorsports USA driver topped qualifying, then locked himself into the showpiece final by remaining at the top of the charts following Friday’s heat races.
Sandell’s automatic final berth allowed him to skip the ‘Challenger’ and last Chance Qualifier’ heat races on Saturday afternoon, but it did give him pole position for the main event.
In the final Sandell got off the grid okay, but he was no match for the lightning-fast start of Kevin Hansen in his World Rallycross Peugoet 208, who led into turn one.
“First of all sitting around all day watching everybody race, I kind of felt like I was on vacation, but while trying to get my mind ready to go out and race,” Sandell said. “It felt good, I felt like I had a good start but obviously Kevin had an even better start, he took me off the line straight away.”
Although he was taken by Hansen at the start, Sandell remained a factor int he fight for the win right until the end of the six-lap race, crossing the finish line in sight of his compatriot.
“I was at his bumper going into turn one, gave him a little bit of a hit to show him I was there but nothing too much, after that I just tried to hit my marks, tried to gain some time back, then the car just crossed the finish line a car length behind so it was a very, very tight race.”
“In a few days I’m sure I will be more happy than I am right now, but it’s okay.”
One unique element of Nitro Rallycross is the choice of routes – drivers have a choice of three different routes to take on the course at the Utah Motorsports campus, with it being compulsory for drivers to take both the joker lap (which is around four seconds slower than the fastest route), and the tabletop route, while the course’s signature gap jump lap is the quickest way round.
Not knowing where your rivals are in relation to you, by virtue of the track’s unique design, is something that Sandell said added another layer of complexity to proceedings, but he blocked it out by remaining focused on turning fast laps on his own.
“It was stressful. I tried not to think about it too much but I got all kinds of information from my spotter – ‘he’s there doing that, he might come out there’ – so it was so much to try to take in,” he said. “I know the only thing I can do is to try and hit my marks and go as fast as I can and if someone is faster, they’re faster. [But] I’m happier fighting at least, and today we had a good day.”