Fri | Dec 8, 2023

No mistakes were allowed – McConnell

Published:Wednesday | November 2, 2022 | 12:10 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Jamaican Rallycross driver Fraser McConnell raises his country’s flag after winning the Los Angeles leg of the Nitro Rallycross Championship on Sunday.
Jamaican Rallycross driver Fraser McConnell raises his country’s flag after winning the Los Angeles leg of the Nitro Rallycross Championship on Sunday.

JAMAICAN RALLYCROSS driver Fraser McConnell is thanking his team for helping to produce the perfect weekend of racing.

McConnell, speaking after his arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport on Monday night, said on a small track in Los Angeles, California, where he won his first Nitro Rallycross Championship, he had to be perfect.

“It was a real small track so everyone was really close on the times. The top six in the finals were within three seconds, so you could barely fit a paper between the cars, so it was really important not to make any mistakes and to put in some good laps,” said the Jamaican.

The win has massively improved his stocks in the sport.

A few weeks ago, McConnell overcame a dramatic crash during the Nitro Rally cross series at ERX Motor Park in Minnesota to finish third.

This weekend, there were to be no such mishaps to hinder him.

On Saturday, McConnell topped the qualifying round, which put him in pole position and on Sunday, he executed a near-perfect race to take his first championship title.

“The qualifying is probably the most important side of it. It really sets you up. So it is really important to get the top qualifier position because it is a lot easier to win a race from the front than it is when people are in front of you. It does make it easier for the final, although it was by no means easy,” the 24-year-old said.

The times in qualifying, McConnell noted, were very close because of the relatively small track in Los Angeles.

“This time around everything worked smoothly. The gears were greased up so nothing really hitched. I kept my head down and focused with the game plan at the forefront of our minds.

“So from the start on Saturday to the end on Sunday there was no mistake,” he beamed.

McConnell, who received the qualifying champion belt for topping the qualifiers and Nitro Rallycross trophy for finishing on top of the podium, started in the unfavourable inside line and had to contend with fast-starting, overall leader, Robin Larsson, who opted for the joker strategy on lap two of the six-lap contest.

However, he received an early surprise by McConnell, who edged to a 6.1-second lead over his main rival. Larsson eventually finished fourth behind Andreas Bakkerud and Oliver Eriksson, who were second and third, respectively.

“We had our push pass and I used it up quite a bit to get in front on the first lap. They are my teammates but I am a very fierce competitor and I knew they would be gunning for that pole spot as well.

“So I was trying to keep it shut and as tight as I could, while trying to care for my teammates. They went and used the joker strategy early and I went in hot on the heels and put in some good laps and thankfully, we came out just in front,” he recalled.

The Jamaican is now aiming to repeat his success when the series continues with the fifth leg on November 12 and 13 at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona, which will be the final meet in the series for the year.

Another pole finish would put McConnell, who is third in the overall standings, in a strong position to launch a challenge for the overall title when the series resumes in 2023.

“I have the top qualifier belt and I will hold that until the next race. I also have the big trophy. That is going to stay home.

“We want to keep that momentum going and try to collect some more of these. Hopefully, we can repeat it. He (Larsson) is not that far ahead at all. There are a lot of events to be had. So I want to go out and bring the championship back to Jamaica.

“We will stick to the game plan and make sure we are physically and mentally prepared to go out and try to execute as best as we can.”