Tuesday, 31 March 2015

"Dream come true is an understatement" - Steve Arpin gets set for 2015 with Ganassi

Everyone has a job they dream of doing one day. Unfortunately for most of us, a dream is all it will ever be. For Steve Arpin however, his life and career isn't the stuff of fantasy, its reality.

Already living the wonderful life of travelling all over America racing cars to pay his bills, the young Canadian has now been snapped up by motorsport legend Chip Ganassi to race for his new rallycross programme.

"To have the opportunity to drive for a man like Chip Ganassi is honestly, saying it's a dream come true, to me, is an understatement," Arpin told me. "This is one of those things that actually seemed too good to be true but it's actually happening! It's pretty cool!

Despite the recent announcement, it's a deal that Arpin, Ganassi and sponsor Loenbro have been working on for quite some time.

"It's something I've kinda been working on since X Games of last year," he revealed. "I saw them poking their heads around X Games last year, and that opened up a lot of opportunities for other areas for discussion and we spent the rest of the year talking about different possibilities".

Now several months down the line, Arpin and the Ganassi team are preparing for their first year together in Red Bull Global Rallycross. Lining-up alongside Arpin for most of 2015 in what will be a two car team is Metal Mulisha general Brian Deegan. The driver who will fill in for the events that Deegan wont be participating in is yet to be announced but pretty much everyone in Ganassi's vast pool of talent has been linked to the seat so far.

Arpin, a driver who rose up the NASCAR ranks before making his Red Bull Global Rallycross début in 2013, and Deegan have both driven Olsbergs-prepared Ford Fiestas in all of their GRC starts so far but will switch to a Fiesta ST built by WRC powerhouse M-Sport for 2015. Ken Block is so far the only other driver to campaign the car Stateside and last year it proved to be the quickest in the field on a number of occasions.

The cars will be run out of Ganassi's shop in Concord, North Carolina - the same location where the team's NASCAR entries are also built. The organisation also has a successful IndyCar operation in Indiana and they'll be facing one of their open-wheel rivals in Andretti Autosport when they take to the track in Ft. Lauderdale next month.

"They (Andretti) set a bar last year. They improved the level of competition of the entire sport," Arpin said. "It was really impressive and that's definitely motivation for us to come out and do the same thing again."

Michael Andretti's Volkswagen squad certainly had a good début year in 2014, scooping four wins and challenging for the title until the last round. Along with Arpin and Deegan, Ganassi have assembled a team of people they they hope will help them fight at the front straight away, led by former M-Sport engineer Carl Goodman.

"We've got all the resources at our fingertips, we've got the right people on board, we've got the right cars coming, we've got all the right ingredients to raise that bar another level yet and that's definitely what we expect to do," declared Arpin.

Looking ahead to the 2015 season, Arpin says the only event he's looking forward to is 'whatever's next'. He's also set his sights firmly on claiming his first GRC win this year but understands it wont be straightforward.

"Wins cannot be out of the question this year. Wins are definitely a high priority on my list, they are the priority on my list," he said. "But with that being said, we have to be realistic too and we are a start-up team, we are a new team."

"Realistically we are going to probably suffer a few growing pains and what my expectations are there is to be strong enough in all other aspects that we can absorb the damage that a couple of those growing pains do along the way."

To read more on Steve Arpin's thoughts of this year, driving for Chip Ganassi and the rise of Red Bull Global Rallycross, check out the full interview HERE

Images - Alison Padron, Lrry Chen, Garth Milan, Dominik Wilde, @stevearpin on Twitter (NASCAR image)

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