ARX2 of World Rallycross of USA Filled With Surprises
(October 2, 2018) – For the second Americas Rallycross (ARX) event in a row, competitors in the official single-make support category, ARX2, had a packed weekend as they took part in a doubleheader at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
Having won the final in each of the three opening rounds of the season, DirtFish Motorsport’s Conner Martell entered the event with a seven point lead in the championship, but it was Keatts Motorsport’s Cole Keatts who took TQ (top qualifier) in the Intermediate Classification in round four on Saturday while Martell was slowed by a half spin in Q2 and qualified third overall behind Keatts and Robbie Buhl’s Alex Keyes. Heavy rain caused a delay in proceedings before the semifinals took place, but when the action began it wasn’t long until Keatts stopped from the lead of semifinal one with technical issues. In the re-started race, Martell took the lead and won, as Jamaican driver Fraser McConnell had a spin on the dirt section and dropped to third. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Travis PeCoy also made a mistake and lost a position to team mate Christian Brooks – who was celebrating his 18th birthday – and didn’t make the final. In semi two, Keyes beat former rallycross champion Cabot Bigham to take the win and claim the pole for the final.
In the final, Keyes took the lead at turn one and over the six laps in wet conditions checked out up front to take his first ARX2 win. Martell took a turn one joker and passed Bigham before also clearing DirtFish team mate Scott Andersson to finish second and extend his points lead. McConnell dropped to sixth on lap four but climbed back to fourth at the finish with Brooks and Bigham fifth and sixth.
Track conditions also began difficult on Sunday with a slippery surface for Q1 in the fifth and final round for ARX2 drivers. Martell won his Q1 race but was second fastest to Keatts, who started strong for the second round in a row, but with quickest times in Q2 and Q3, Martell took TQ and was crowned champion at the semifinal stage. He took the pole for the final and claimed the turn one holeshot, but retired on lap two with a puncture. Keatts had dropped down in qualifying after a crash forced a DNF in Q2, but he made the final with third in semi two, but again had issues in the final. Third at the Intermediate Classification, Keyes took a lap one joker from row two in the final and climbed positions as other drivers took their jokers. Brooks lost positions at turn one but passed Keatts on lap one then pushed McConnell hard for the lead until he took his joker on lap five, where he lost position to Keyes. The Robbie Buhl driver then took the lead when McConnell jokered on the final lap, but McConnell stayed ahead of Brooks for second. Bigham was fourth.
“Man, I just had a little bit of good luck this weekend and real positive team behind me,” said Keyes after his second win of the year. “We just kept making small changes here and there to make it better, you’ve got to when the competition’s this close so we just came out on top. I didn’t really have much of a choice starting fourth but to take the joker on the first lap and I’m super glad that Christian didn’t take the joker on the first lap. I’m bummed for Conner that he had a flat tyre, but great day, great race for me. That was a lot of fun out there.” PeyCoy again had a difficult race in round five, a spin and DNF in semifinal two ending his season. DRR’s Matt Carpoff continued his learning of the ARX2 cars and consistently improved his times across the two days, but DirtFish’s James Rimmer had to withdraw from the weekend through illness.
In the standings, Martell finished the year as champion with a 17-point advantage over Brooks. Keyes’ pair of wins secured him third, just four points off second and McConnell finished his first ever season of rallycross fourth in the points.