2017 Mid-Season Review: Cole Keatts
STATS (through 6 of 12 rounds): 8th in GRC Lites points (261), best finish 6th, 3 heat wins
POSITIVES: It didn’t take Keatts more than one heat to finally take his first victory of 2017, winning the very first round of the season in Memphis. He then backed it up in New England with a second-round heat victory and a semifinal win, giving him a front row starting spot alongside Olsbergs MSE X Forces teammate Cyril Raymond, the current GRC Lites points leader and an important source of feedback for the sophomore.
“It’s awesome with Cyril as a teammate—we compare and keep pushing from there,” Keatts said of his relationship with the French driver. “We can put together an ideal perfect lap. Let’s say I have a quicker sector here, and he has two quicker sectors there. With that, we can put together an ideal lap, and that’s pretty cool. We just need to run consistent and solid laps—you aren’t ever going to make a perfect lap, but that’s your goal.”
NEGATIVES: Unfortunately for Keatts, he was the odd man out in the Memphis season opener after being eliminated in the last chance qualifier. Under the new point system introduced that weekend, that meant he would be down more than 20 points on the 10 drivers who made it, putting him last in the championship heading into the second race of the year.
While his results have gotten better since then, the Idaho native is still searching for his first top five, currently calling sixth place (on three separate occasions) his best finish. New England II was his best chance, as he started from the front row and ran in podium contention; unfortunately, mechanical issues took him out of the running and relegated him to ninth place.
OUTLOOK: One of the youngest drivers on the grid, Keatts made a giant jump from Junior 2 off-road karts into GRC Lites last year. Now that he’s had a full season to acclimate, he’s starting to scratch the surface of his potential. He’ll likely be even better in 2018, but now that he’s knocked off those first wins and showed he can take the fight to the leaders, expect an impressive second half.