Friday, August 22, 2014

Arpin taking on new challenge

If someone went up to Fort Frances native Steve Arpin a few years ago and told him that he would be heading to places in South America and Europe to run a rally car in the Global RallyCross racing series, he would have given that person quite an odd look.
“I probably would have laughed,” the 29-year-old admitted.

“This is definitely an opportunity that caught me off-guard,” Arpin added. “But it’s kind of a new thing that is coming up here right now and it’s a fast-growing series.
“This kind of racing has always been a big deal in Europe, but it’s just really starting to come up to speed here in the United States,” he noted.
“And the chance to come and be a part of it early on as it’s growing is a great opportunity.”
Arpin, who travelled to Foz do Iguacu, Brazil earlier this week for the season-opening event this Sunday, will be behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta rally car in the series, which resembles more of a short-track stock car race on steroids compared to the timed races that most associate rally with.
“It’s really cool and wild,” Arpin enthused.
“The acceleration on these cars are quite mind-boggling, and they actually are faster than a Formula 1 car.
“It’s essentially sprint races between a few cars instead of the big long races like you see in NASCAR,” he explained. “And you have everything from jumps, ramps, dirt, and asphalt all piled up into one place, depending on where you are racing.
“It’s definitely a whole other level of excitement,” Arpin said. “And I think that once more people get exposed to it here, they’ll gravity to it a little bit more.”
The first three races of the season, including Barcelona, Spain in May and Munich, Germany in June, will coincide with the X Games events that are taking place around the world.
After that, they’ll be competing in the United States for the rest of the nine-race season, with the majority of those being held at NASCAR facilities (with exception of a race in downtown Los Angeles during the X Games in August).
Arpin will driving for the OMSE2 team from Sweden, which is a satellite operation to the OMSE factory Ford squad headlined by Tanner Foust, who has won the last two series championships and is most known for his work as one of the hosts on the American version of “Top Gear.”
“The best part about that is we have access to all of the information that they will have for set-ups, which is something that will be good for us,” Arpin noted.
“The second car on the OMSE2 team will essentially be a ‘star car’ that will have big-name drivers running in it throughout the season.
“And [former Formula 1 pilot and current Sprint Cup competitor] Scott Speed will be driving in that car in Brazil.”
The opportunity to drive in the Global RallyCross series came to a head in January, when Arpin flew out to Lake Elsinore in California to participate in a test session hosted by the team.
“Everything really took off from that,” Arpin said.
“They kind of had a feeling when I came in of, ‘Who is this Canadian guy that ran in NASCAR and is trying these cars?’” he admitted.
“But it ended up going really well.
“It took a little bit for everything to officially come together, and I’ve actually done a good job of keeping my mouth shut during that process,” he added.
While Arpin is hoping to win each and every time he steps into the car, he is keeping things realistic heading into his first race Sunday.
“I went to Belgium a couple of weeks ago to test out the car and while it was a lot of fun, it was an awfully humbling experience,” he conceded.
“There is so much going on in these cars that you have to make sure that you are on the top of your game in each and every corner, especially when you have other guys around you,” he stressed.
“I’m looking at being consistent early on in the year as picking up wins right off of the bat is a little bit far-fetched,” Arpin reasoned.
“But I definitely want to be at the point around mid-season where I am running up front and competing for wins.”

More stories