Drivers Joni Wiman and Patrik Sandell battle in Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Olsbergs MSE Ford's Patrik Sandell and Joni Wiman were the drivers to beat this weekend in Daytona, with both posting strong qualifying results and winning heat races at the sixth round of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship.
"It was a good weekend for the team," said Kobalt Tools driver Sandell. "We were in the top of the pack the whole time and I'm really pleased with that."
The Olsbergs MSE rallycross cars immediately proved class of the field, with Wiman's Red Bull / Bluebeam Ford Fiesta ST setting the fastest lap in qualifying and teammate Sandell just over a tenth of a second behind him in the Kobalt Tolls Ford Fiesta ST.
All the fans that came to me after the race said this was one of the best and coolest things they'd seen at Daytona International Speedway,
Both drivers said they felt equally at home on the course's long, fast straightaways and also on the technical tarmac and dirt sections that made the Daytona circuit one of the most challenging this year.
In an incredible show of grit, Sandell made a huge comeback drive in the final, moving from tenth to fourth after contact with another car on the first corner caused him to spin off course.
"I was angry after being pushed out on the first corner, but my spotter told me to never give up," said Sandell. "To drive from tenth to fourth in only eight laps... I feel good about that."
Wiman also battled adversity after getting a flat tire in a clash with a rival driver in the chaotic final race. He was able to get his car to the finish line and secure critical points in the series standings. With four races remaining in the championship, he is now just two points behind third-place Scott Speed.
Despite sweltering heat that saw temperatures approach the triple-digits, grandstands were packed with fans for the series debut at the Florida circuit, which is home to historic motorsport events including NASCAR's Daytona 500 and the 24 Hours of Daytona sports car race. Drivers took part in autograph sessions and welcomed spectators into the open pits.
"All the fans that came to me after the race said this was one of the best and coolest things they'd seen at Daytona International Speedway," said Sandell.
Rhys Millen took the win in Daytona, while Ford's Ken Block finished second. Third place went to Bucky Lasek.
In addition to the Supercars contest, GRC Lites returned to the series for their fifth round of 2014 competition. Young Red Bull driver Mitchell DeJong earned his fourth win in five starts this season. The Olsbergs MSE driver leads the GRC Lites championship.
Full coverage of the Red Bull Global Rallycross event in Daytona aired live on NBC. A rebroadcast of the show airs again on NBC Sports Network Thursday, August 28.
Olsbergs MSE next returns to Red Bull Global Rallycross competition in Los Angeles September 19-21 for a double-header weekend on a temporary circuit built into the Port of Los Angeles. Before then, the World RX team of Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss will be in Europe with their Ford Fiesta ST rallycross machines for World RX of France, September 6-7.