Sat | Oct 19, 2019

McConnell reflects on ARX2 glory

Published:Thursday | October 10, 2019 | 12:22 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Jamaican driver Fraser McConnell in action at the Canadian leg of the ARX2 Championship on Saturday, August 3.
Jamaican driver Fraser McConnell in action at the Canadian leg of the ARX2 Championship on Saturday, August 3.

Fraser McConnell became Jamaica’s first every rallycross champion with victory in the final of the ARX2 Rallycross meet in Lexington, Ohio on Sunday.

Rallycross is a form of motorsport that takes placed on a closed multisurface racing circuit, with the use of modified production cars, similar to those used in motor rallies.

The magnitude of McConnell’s achievement is still surreal to him as he reflects on the feat days after.

“It’s hard for something this big to sink in when two years ago, I was watching YouTube videos and dreaming of this ever happening,” he said, speaking to The Gleaner. “So these past couple of years have moved very fast. And for me to call myself a rallycross champion is still so surreal, and I’m just living in the moment.”

The 21-year-old McConnell paid homage to his racing team Dirtfish racing, which gave the two-time Jamaican driver of the year his opportunity to shine, and also the technical support from Olsberg Motorsport Evolution in Sweden, which he also represents on the World Rallycross championship circuit.

McConnell started his second season in ARX2 with a win on day two at Mid-Ohio. But after finishing seventh and second at the ARX of Gateway in Madison, Illinois, he knew that changes would be necessary if he was going to have a chance to capture the title.

Change of game plan

“After Gateway, we were leading in the championships and we had some hiccups while racing in Illinois,” he said. “I knew that if we were going to win the title going forward from that, I was going to have to change my game plan, change the way that I approach the race meets, which is also constantly in development.”

The result of those changes were wins on back-to-back days in August in Canada, and in Austin, Texas, in late September, which placed him within touching distance of the championships as he returned to the Mid-Ohio circuit for the final two days of the season.

Despite finishing fifth on day one, he rebounded in qualifying on the second day to start behind pole winner Cole Keatts of the United States for the final race of ARX2. For McConnell it was only fitting that the history making race would be in the toughest conditions that he has dealt with.

“The final race in Ohio was very tough,” he said. “By far the slipperiest conditions I ever had to race in. And it was a fitting final for the championship because it kind of showed how diverse the conditions could be, and it was a good statement because the slipperiest conditions do show the best drivers at that time. For me to bring it to the line in first place was really special to me.”

McConnell hopes that his achievements will open the door for other talented Jamaican drivers hoping to break through.

“For me to be able to compete on such a high level under the Jamaican flag is something that I am very proud of, and I really hope that it does open the door for many other Jamaica drivers and gives them an opportunity because this island is just so full of talent,” he said.

“If half of it were to be exposed to the world, the world would be blown away.”

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com