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GP Week : 01-Sep-2009
INGS WRC FEATURE >> Swede Patrick Sandell has a more than passing interest in this weekend's Repco Rally Australia. MARTIN HOLMES explains SOMETIMES rally drivers have to sit back, wait and see whether success will come to them. Eight rallies are included in the FIA's Production Car World Rally Championship calendar, but drivers can only score points on six. For reasons of cost, several of the PCWRC candidates decided that missing Australia would give them greater financial strength for competing on other rounds. With two more rounds to go in this series, six drivers are in with a chance of winning the title this year and two of them will be absent in Australia -- Nasser Al Attiyah (who meanwhile is busy at a Cross Country rally in Russia) and Patrik Sandell who will be at home. Both must wait to see whether their rival drivers still leave them with a chance of gaining the title at the final round at the Rally GB. "I don't normally believe in miracles but I have already had two in my career. I am praying now praying for a third...!", 27 year old Patrik Sandell confessed. "My first miracle came on the final day on Rally GB in 2006 when I thought I had thrown away my chance of winning the Junior Rally title, only to find my rival PG Andersson then threw his chance away as well, and I ended up the champion! "My second was after I thought my car troubles in the Acropolis this year had ruined my PCWRC title hopes, only for my rival Nasser Al Attiyah to have technical trouble and be excluded, which mathematically revived my chances of being the champion." In his 10 years in the sport, Sandell has already learned and achieved a lot: "My father competed on Swedish rallies before I was born, and when I came along he gave it up, but my uncle was still competing, so my father took me along to a lot of rallies when I was young. "Actually, I did not really like it!Fromtheageof6to16,allI thought about was ice hockey and I really wanted to be the best in the world at that! "WhenIwas16Iwasableto compete in the folk racing, a cheap form of motorsport in Sweden, and enjoyed it. That led me to tell my father that I wanted to be like him and compete on rallies, but he pointed out that I would have to start work and earn some money. If I got myself a car, he would help with fuel and tyres. That was why I started to work after school at the local McDonalds in Ostersund, my home town, cleaning the restaurant and preparing the french fries. "The cost of the rally car I wanted to buy was around 2500 euros. When I reached the 1500 level, the local McDonalds people came along with the remaining 1000 and Igotmycar.Ihadgotmyfirst sponsor!" Ostersund is a long way away in the north of Sweden, around 600km north of where the Swedish Rally is held: "There is really nothing north of where we live. Actually there is a lot of interest in motorsport where we are, especially for rallying -- also some European snow rally events some years ago, and a rally in the Swedish championship. There is also a lot of interest in 'Snowmobile- cross' and the area is very useful to go testing rally cars in winter time. "The place where Ford and the other teams go is at a place called Kall (which actually means 'cold') which is 80km from where I live. That is along the side of the mountain called Are which is the biggest ski resort in Europe. It is a big motorsport place but industrially it is too small to have companies which can provide a lot of sponsorship. But it's good to live there. We drive on snow six months in the year. A lot of things go on there - in the middle of nowhere!" Different people in different circumstance have been helping Patrik a lot. First his father: "He is not rich but gave me support every day, every year. Then someone else who helped me a lot was Jonas Kruse, who made all the arrangements for me to drive the Renault through 2004-2006. "My association with my co- driver Emil Axelsson started in 2004. Previously my co-driver came from my home town but I wanted to go further into the world championship, and he wanted to stay doing local events for fun. Emil also wanted to go into 41