Red Bull GRC Memphis: GRC Lites Round 1 Recap
IN BRIEF: DirtFish Motorsports’ Conner Martell took advantage of a bad break for Alex Keyes halfway through the main event to win the 2017 GRC Lites season opener at Memphis International Raceway on Saturday. Martell held off Olsbergs MSE X Forces’ Cyril Raymond and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Christian Brooks to take the third victory of his Lites career.
HEAT RECAPS: Six of the 11 drivers in this weekend’s event took a victory in the heats or semifinals, with Martell, Raymond, and Cole Keatts winning the first round heats and Brooks and Colin Braun joining Raymond as the second round winners. Keyes outdueled Raymond to win the first semifinal, while Martell took the second over Brooks. Series newcomer Burt Jenner won the last chance qualifier over Jon Bennett.
MAIN EVENT RECAP: The entire field got off the line cleanly to kick off Saturday’s main event, with Keyes jumping out to an early lead over Martell and Raymond in what many expect to be a preview of the year-long championship battle. But Keyes’ work to build up a lead went for nothing halfway through the final, as a punctured left rear tire took him out of winning contention.
Martell and company made it past Keyes on the pit straightaway, with the DirtFish driver holding a consistent lead over Raymond for the remainder of the event. Brooks, meanwhile, managed to get to the finish line ahead of Braun to take his first-ever GRC Lites podium, but with less than a second to spare.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: The results from Saturday’s Red Bull Global Rallycross Memphis, the first round of the 2017 GRC Lites season:
- Conner Martell, #21 DirtFish Motorsports
- Cyril Raymond, #13 Olsbergs MSE X Forces
- Christian Brooks, #44 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
- Colin Braun, #56 CORE autosport
- James Rimmer, #25 DirtFish Motorsports
- Alejandro Fernandez, #126 AF Racing
- Jon Bennett, #54 CORE autosport
- Travis PeCoy, #3 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
- Alex Keyes, #24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
- Burt Jenner, #5 AF Racing
- Cole Keatts, #53 Olsbergs MSE X Forces
QUOTES: A selection of quotes from Saturday’s Red Bull Global Rallycross Memphis, the first round of the 2017 GRC Lites season:
Conner Martell, #21 DirtFish Motorsports: “It was just about being consistent all weekend. The track was unbelievably rough. I feel bad for (Alex) Keyes. But we were consistent and that’s why we won. And the plan is to win the championship!”
Cyril Raymond, #13 Olsbergs MSE X Forces: “It was a great weekend! My first race was a great result for me and the team. I am happy to be here. There is a very high level of competition in USA and it’s very hard on the track. I’m here to gain a lot of experience and hope to win the championship.”
Christian Brooks, #44 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing: “It’s definitely great to be up here for the first time. I want to thank all the guys at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. We were fast right out of the gate. I’m just glad we are here on the podium. The plan is to have more to come!”
FAST FACTS: A collection of facts from Saturday’s Red Bull Global Rallycross Memphis, the first round of the 2017 GRC Lites season:
- Conner Martell earned his third career GRC Lites victory, and fourth career podium, by winning Saturday’s final in Memphis. It was the second year in a row that Martell took a Lites victory in the first event of the year, after he won 2016’s second main event in Phoenix.
- Cyril Raymond took his first career GRC Lites podium, as well as his first two heat victories, in his first start in the class. Raymond was the 2016 European Lites champion.
- Second-year driver Christian Brooks also earned the first podium of his GRC Lites career by placing third on Saturday. Brooks’ second-round heat victory was the second of his career, after taking his first last season in Atlantic City.
- Alongside Raymond and Brooks, James Rimmer (fifth) and Jon Bennett (seventh) set or equaled personal best finishes in a GRC Lites final.
- Alongside Raymond, Cole Keatts (Heat 1A) and Colin Braun (Heat 2B) earned the first heat victories of their GRC Lites careers, while Burt Jenner (LCQ) also won the first race session of his GRC Lites career.
- All five teams (AF Racing, CORE autosport, DirtFish Motorsports, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, and Olsbergs MSE X Forces) entered in this weekend’s event won at least one race session.
UNOFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS:
- Conner Martell, 73
- Cyril Raymond, 68
- Christian Brooks, 62
- Colin Braun, 59
- Alejandro Fernandez, 53
- James Rimmer, 49
- Alex Keyes, 45 (tie)
- Jon Bennett, 45 (tie)
- Travis PeCoy, 44
- Cole Keatts, 16 (tie)
- Burt Jenner, 16 (tie)
Photo credit: Louis Yio