The DirtFish Motorsports team is more than halfway through the 2017 Red Bull GRC season, and Conner Martell and James Rimmer just completed the seventh round of the season at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was a short but eventful weekend with fast times and unfortunate ends. Both drivers really enjoyed the track that the Red Bull GRC track builders had put together for this race; it had fast and technical sections and a very slick gravel section!
On Saturday morning, everything was looking positive for both drivers after setting the second and third fastest times during practice. While high finishes in practice are great, the real success came during the first heat race later that day when Conner finished in first and James finished right behind him in second place.
Since this event was only a single event, it was fairly calm and relaxed compared to the previous two events in Ottawa and Connecticut. Since this event was a single race, the teams weren’t required to fit twice the amount of work into two days and the drivers didn’t have to worry as much about preserving the car for a second day of racing.
Sunday was packed full of racing with one more round of heat races, a semifinal and a final race all happening in one day. The day began with a few laps around the track for a warm-up, which gave the drivers a chance to feel any changes that the course prep crew had made overnight and make sure their car setup was correct.
Following practice, the drivers went right out for heat race number two. Conner and James were again racing against each other in the same heat race. They finished in third and fourth place. The semifinal race was one where both drivers really shined. Conner jumped to the front of pack early and held onto his lead all the way to the finish line. James had a hard-fought battle throughout the entire race with Cyril Raymond and Travis Pecoy, finally finishing in third place.
Those two solid finishes in the semifinal placed Conner in the best starting position for the final with James one row behind him. Conner had a stellar start, leading the group all the way until they went into the dirt section where he was battling with Christian Brooks and Alex Keyes. All three were door-to-door before Alex keyes spun out right in front of Conner, leaving him with nowhere to go. Even though James was starting from the fifth position, he took an opportunity to sneak past Raymond on the inside as they went into the dirt. He was also properly positioned to take advantage of the carnage caused by Keyes and moved up to the third position where he stayed for the majority of the race. On the final lap through the dirt, Keyes had caught up to James. Heading into the final corner on the dirt portion, Keyes hit him from behind, causing him to lose control of his car and hit the wall. This ultimately ended his race. Keyes would later be disqualified, moving James and Conner up in positions and still giving them points towards the driver’s championship.
While it is unfortunate that neither Conner or James were able to finish the final race, they both drove extremely well throughout the weekend, achieving top finishes in heat races and the semifinal! Conner was on his way to another GRC Lites win for the 2017 season and James nearly had his first podium finish of the season. Both drivers have again proved that they have what it takes to be on top of the leaderboard and be in contention for the overall championship. There are five races left throughout the season and plenty of opportunities for them to stand on top of that blue podium in 2017!