Joni Wiman takes points lead in Seattle
SNOQUALMIE, Wash. (September 27, 2014) - Olsbergs MSE rookie Joni Wiman is in the lead of the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship after a podium performance this weekend in front of a sell-out crowd in the Pacific Northwest.
The 20-year-old Red Bull/Bluebeam Ford Fiesta ST driver won both of his heats on the way to a second-place finish on Saturday to advance to the top of the standings. With one race remaining on the 2014 calendar, Wiman now leads the title chase by 12 points over fellow Ford driver Ken Block.
I found an extra gear and pushed my competitive limit,
"It's surprising to be here in my first season of Supercars competition," said Wiman. "Now it comes down to keeping a cool head at the final race in November and we'll see where we end up in the championship."
Wiman admitted it took him some time to adapt to the 65 percent dirt and gravel course, but he said it came together for him during Friday's qualifying session when he set the second-fastest lap to earn a front-row starting position.
"I found an extra gear and pushed my competitive limit," said Wiman. "At that point, once the clock was running, I got the idea of how to drive fast on this course."
The big help from Sandell
He said that working with teammate Patrik Sandell was a big help. With more than 50 World Rally Championship starts to his name, Sandell was in his comfort zone on the rough track in the Kobalt Tools Ford Fiesta ST. The two drivers worked together to compare notes between sessions.
"It was so much fun to drive here in Washington," said Sandell, who crossed the line in second place during early heat racing. "The course was mostly dirt and it felt like we were going back to the roots of rallycross."
After a confident start in the final, Wiman and Sandell were in second and third positions by the middle of the race. But while Wiman worked to reel in race leader Sverre Isachsen in the closing laps, Sandell suffered a flat front tire and began to lose ground.
Wiman crossed the line in second, while Sandell was able to fight his car to the finish in seventh place. "Punctures were an issue for everybody all weekend long," said Sandell. "This old lumber mill near Seattle is a really cool location but there are a lot of things in the ground that can tear a hole in a tire -- and I found one of them."
The race win went to Isachsen. Wiman finished second, while third place went to fellow Ford driver Brian Deegan.
Full coverage of the Round 9 of the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship airs on NBC Sunday September 28 at 4:30 p.m. (Eastern Time). Championship competition resumes with the tenth and final round of the 2014 season in Las Vegas on November 5.