Brink in the SM-line
IN BRIEF: Alex Keyes thrust himself into the GRC Lites championship chase with a victory in Sunday’s round at MCAS New River in Jacksonville, NC. Keyes, who missed the season opener in Fort Lauderdale, held off Olsbergs MSE’s Oliver Eriksson and DirtFish Motorsports’ Tanner Whitten for the win.
HEAT RECAPS: Four different drivers won the four heat races on Sunday—Olsbergs MSE teammates Oliver Eriksson and Austin Cindric, and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing teammates Miles Maroney and Alex Keyes. Alejandro Fernandez, the points leader coming into the event, won the last chance qualifier.
MAIN EVENT RECAP: From the second row, Cindric dove to the inside line coming into the first corner, but as teammate and inside front-row starter Eriksson made his apex, the two cars made contact and Cindric dropped through the field. Instead, it was Keyes who jumped out to the lead, diving into the Kobalt Tools Joker Lap to establish himself up front.
For the entire eight-lap final, Eriksson tried to whittle down Keyes’ lead and take his second win of the season, but couldn’t close the gap. The final podium spot, however, was anything but settled; Maroney held off Tanner Whitten for much of the race despite a broken header, but Whitten muscled in to take the third place spot and championship lead.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: The results from Sunday’s Red Bull Global Rallycross MCAS New River, the fourth round of the 2015 GRC Lites season:
Alex Keyes, #61 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Oliver Eriksson, #16 Olsbergs MSE
Tanner Whitten, #15 DirtFish Motorsports
Miles Maroney, #24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Austin Cindric, #77 Olsbergs MSE
Alejandro Fernandez, #126 AF Racing
Conner Martell, #21 Rhys Millen Racing
Gavin Harlien, #55 Harlien Racing
Nur Ali, #42 AF Racing
Collete Davis, #07 River Racing
Jackie Heinricher, #57 Rhys Millen Racing
QUOTES: A selection of quotes from Sunday’s Red Bull Global Rallycross MCAS New River, the fourth round of the 2015 GRC Lites season:
Alex Keyes, Driver, #61 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing: “I got the lead right off the gate and just kept on going. Oliver was pushing me hard, and I saw him a few times out of the corner of my eye. But I wasn’t going to let that make me make a mistake, so I just kept on going!”
Tanner Whitten, Driver, #15 DirtFish Motorsports: “There are at least five guys who come out and can win these races. The competition is definitely better, and I’m just thankful we’re on the box. It’s my first year, rookie year, and I can’t ask for anything better. Dirtfish—everyone at Dirtfish has been phenomenal. Thank you to my team, they are the best out here.”
Miles Maroney, Driver, #24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing: “You know, we ran strong all weekend, had quick cars. On lap two, unfortunately, the header completely broke off the car. So we were quite a bit down on power. From that point on, we were kind of in damage control—knew I couldn’t catch the lead two. I’m disappointed to come away fourth because we should have had a 1-2 for the team. Congrats to Alex on the win—his first—and disappointed I couldn’t have been up there with him, but I feel like we should have.”
FAST FACTS: A collection of facts from Sunday’s Red Bull Global Rallycross MCAS New River, the fourth round of the 2015 GRC Lites season:
Alex Keyes earned his first career GRC Lites victory and podium in Sunday’s GRC Lites main event. The accomplishments came in only his third career start.
Oliver Eriksson’s second place finish was his third podium of the 2015 GRC Lites season and the fourth of his career. Eriksson is the only driver with three GRC Lites podiums this season.
Tanner Whitten earned his second consecutive podium finish on Sunday by placing third. Whitten, the new GRC Lites points leader, has not finished worse than fourth this season.
Miles Maroney earned his third consecutive top-five finish by placing fourth.
Austin Cindric earned his class-leading sixth heat win of the 2015 season in the first round of heats on Sunday.
Conner Martell and Gavin Harlien finished seventh and eighth, respectively, in their GRC Lites debuts.
OFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS:
Tanner Whitten, 169
Austin Cindric, 161
Oliver Eriksson, 161
Alejandro Fernandez, 155
Miles Maroney, 140
Alex Keyes, 120
Nur Ali, 78
Geoff Sykes, 62
Harry Cheung, 60
Jackie Heinricher, 45
Collete Davis, 39
Conner Martell, 22
Gavin Harlien, 17
Duncker Felix Jr., 7
Photo credit: Louis Yio