Joni Wiman and Patrik Sandell show their speed on dirt.
Olsbergs MSE Ford drivers Joni Wiman and Patrik Sandell overcame flat tires and aggressive door-to-door banging at the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend to prove that they are contenders for the 2014 championship title. On a rough and rutted course, Wiman earned a pair of solid results in early heat races and charged through the semi-final round to earn a second-row starting position in the Saturday Final.
The young driver worked through the pack and ran as high as second place during race action, but a red-flag restart saw his Red Bull/Bluebeam Ford Fiesta ST shuffled out of the hunt for the podium. He finished fourth in a race that some drivers were calling a battle of attrition.
"When we got to the Final, the track was so rough and dusty that it became a matter of preserving the tires and the car just to get to the finish line," said Wiman. "I got some solid points this weekend and I'm moving in the right direction in the championship."
With half the season complete, the 2014 Supercars rookie now sits in fourth in the overall standings -- only two points behind third-place driver Steve Arpin.
In a race weekend that saw multiple crashes, red-flag restarts, and heavy damage to many competition cars, Sandell found himself out of the action early after being forced off course in his semi-final round.
When the green flag dropped, Sandell was fast off the line but he fell victim to aggressive traffic in the first corner when the Kobalt Tools Ford Fiesta ST took a hit and spun into a trackside barrier. The car was heavily damaged and unable to continue.
"Unfortunately my race ended in the wall today but rallycross is a contact sport and when everybody's pushing for the lead you sometimes take a hit that's unavoidable," said Sandell. "That's what happened today."
Out of the contest before the Final, the Kobalt Tools driver retired to the trackside suites to watch the race with guests from Lowe's and Kobalt Tools at their hometown round.
"It has been a fantastic experience today to get to know some of the people who work with Lowe's and Kobalt Tools," said Sandell. "I feel truly welcomed into their family and that was the silver lining on an otherwise cloudy race day."
In addition to the Supercars contest, seven GRC Lites returned to the series for their fourth round of 2014 competition and it was an Olsbergs MSE podium sweep. Young Red Bull driver Mitchell DeJong earned his third win of the season, followed by brothers Kevin Eriksson, in second, and Oliver Eriksson, in third. It was the first podium for rookie Oliver Eriksson who, at age 15, was the youngest driver in the field this weekend.
GRC Lites compete
The GRC Lites are purpose-built 310 horsepower rallycross racers designed and built by Olsbergs MSE as a development series for the sport of rallycross.
Ford driver Ken Block took the Supercars win in Charlotte, while Sverre Isachsen nabbed the second spot. Third place went to fellow Ford driver Nelson Piquet Jr.
Full Red Bull Global Rallycross coverage is broadcast live on NBC. An additional 90-minute midseason recap of the first five rounds of the 2014 season airs Sunday, Aug. 3 at 4:30 p.m. (Eastern time) on NBC. The show is expected to feature highlights of the first five rounds, including the team's double-podium in D.C., as well as exclusive new content.
Olsbergs MSE next returns to Red Bull Global Rallycross competition in Daytona, Fla., in a month's time. Before then, Wiman will make his World Rallycross Championship debut when he joins team drivers Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss for a guest drive in the World RX of Canada at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres August 7 and 8.