2017 Subaru WRX STI, Red Bull Global Rallycross, Chris Atkinson, Patrik Sandell, GRC Memphis
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New Subaru WRX STI GRC Cars Have Rough Start; Can they Dig Out of a Hole?

The new Subaru WRX STI GRC cars got off to a rough start in the season opener. Can they dig themselves out of a hole?

Subaru’s new WRX STI Global Rallycross cars got a major overhaul this off season and came out of the gates with the same results as last year. After the first race in Memphis this weekend, Subaru Rally Team USA came away with mixed results. Both Chris Atkinson and new driver Partrik Sandell showed signs of improvement, but the duo finished in 8th and 9th place respectively out of the 10 car field.

It had to be disappointing to the team as they got points on Day 1 and Day 2, but still finished at the back of the pack. Volkswagen Andretti Team drivers Scott Speed and Tanner Foust in the Volkswagen Beetles left off where they finished last season finishing the first race of the season 1-2.

At times, the Subaru WRX STI GRC cars looked like the off-season improvements made to the Rallycross cars were going to pay off big. On Day 2, Chris Atkinson got off to a great start in Heat 2A rocketing off the line and pulling away from the pack for the remainder of the race and won in dominant fashion. This was Chris Atkinson’s first win during a heat race.

But the rest of the weekend in Memphis saw the team starting farther back in the pack where the chances of passing are slim and getting hit by the competition and damaging the cars is going to happen. The WRX STIs banged and fought hard, but the results were mixed and they had no more wins for the weekend.

You don’t want to be in the third row

Both Subaru WRX STIs started the Final on row three where it’s almost impossible to catch the VW Beetles who were in row one on the inside. The WRX STIs launched well, but in Turn 1, Sandell, Atkinson and Steve Arpin started banging. Sandell bumped into Atkinson causing damage to his car ending Sandell’s race almost immediately. The race was red-flagged, and after the restart, Atkinson clawed his was back to 5th place before an electrical issue shut the STI down. The team was done for the weekend.

There is a new scoring system this season for Red Bull Global Rallycross, and the teams can get more points for heat races. Because the team won one heat and were close in others, they came away with Atkinson scoring 49 points and Sandell 46 points. Leaders Scott Speed and Tanner Foust scored 79 and 74 points respectively in Memphis Round 1.

The two new Subaru WRX STI Red Bull Global Rallycross cars wrapped up the first race in Memphis with mixed results. They finished in 8th and 9th place but they’re still in the hunt. Can they dig themselves out of a hole? Round 2 takes place in Louisville, Kentucky May 20-21.

Photo credit: Subaru Motorsports

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