Red Bull GRC 2017 Season Preview: Conner Martell
TEAM: #21 DirtFish Motorsports GRC Lites
2016 RESULTS: 11 starts, 2 wins, 3 podiums, 4 heat wins; 359 points, 4th overall (Lites)
2016 IN REVIEW: For a driver with only three GRC Lites starts coming into last season, Martell drove well beyond his years in his first full season. In fact, it only took him two races with his new DirtFish Motorsports squad to strike gold, in the form of his first career victory in Phoenix. Then, in Red Bull GRC’s return to Seattle, he swept the Lites event from practice to the final to give DirtFish a popular hometown victory and give himself a shot at the title in Los Angeles.
WHAT’S NEW: At first glance, very little—and perhaps that’s the way it should be. Most top Lites teams really hit their stride in year two, and Martell and DirtFish expect nothing less. To prepare, both driver and team have been keeping busy with stage rally and RallyX on Ice endeavors. The biggest change from 2016 is that Martell will have a full-time teammate in James Rimmer this season, as opposed to Rimmer’s limited program from Seattle forward last year.
OUTLOOK: With defending champion Cabot Bigham in a Supercar, the Lites throne is vacant in 2017—and Martell is one of a handful of drivers with a legitimate shot at taking it. He’ll be up against tough competition as usual from Olsbergs MSE X Forces and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, but between a year of experience and the Seattle round’s expansion to a doubleheader, the DirtFish Motorsports driver seems to be in the perfect position to capitalize this season.
Photo credit: Louis Yio