On Saturday and Sunday (November 12-13) the sixth round of the 2022/23 Nitro Rallycross series went underway at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix, AZ as part of the first double header event of the series. Oliver Eriksson (FC1-X) won the battle brackets on Saturday while in the final on Sunday points leader Robin Larsson (FC1-X) drove to victory.
The battle brackets on Saturday saw a first semi-final between Oliver Eriksson, who beat Andreas Bakkerud (FC1-X) in the quarter-final, and Travis Pastrana (FC1-X) who won his quarter-final from Kris Meeke (FC1-X) after the latter received a five seconds time penalty for a contact in lap three turn three. The first semi-final was then won by Eriksson where Pastrana notably picked up a similar penalty as Kris Meeke earlier. The second semi-final, that was run before the first one, had Fraser McConnel (FC1-X) who eliminated Conner Martell (FC1-X) in the quarter-final and Robin Larsson who eliminated Kevin Eriksson (FC1-X) in the previous round. As McConnel was forced to retire after his rear suspension broke Larsson made it through to take on Oliver Eriksson in an all Swedish duel. Eriksson then had the better start in the final. Despite Larsson gave him a hard time, Eriksson lead it from start to finish to claim top qualifier to go into Sunday’s heat races.
On Sunday racing started with both of the heat races based on the result of Saturday’s battle brackets. Robin Larsson won the first one and secured his spot on the front row for the final while Oliver Eriksson did the same in the second heat race. The remaining nine drivers were lined up for the semi-finals with each time the top two qualifying for the final. The first one had McConnell and Bakkerud on the front row and both came in one and two and qualified for the final. Following the second semi-final Pastrana and Kevin Eriksson made it through. The remaining five drivers had to battle it out in the Last Chance Qualifier for the two remaining spots in the final. Chase Elliott (FC1-X) was leading it for two laps but then unfortunately he was forced to retire. The Xite Energy Racing guys Meeke and Bennett made it to the fourth row of the final.
In the eight-car-final Oliver Eriksson had the best start with Larsson going into second but then was immediately red flagged after Bakkerud rolled the car after some contact with Oliver Bennett. With the second attempt, with seven cars, it was a repeat from the previous start with Oliver Eriksson going into the lead ahead of Larsson. Pastrana and Meeke ran third and fourth by the end of the first lap. Larsson was able to pass Eriksson in the third lap and Meeke moved into third as Pastrana was passing through the joker lap section. Next in the joker lap section was Meeke who remained third when he joined the main track again. Larsson and Eriksson had to go into the joker in the penultimate lap but the positions didn’t change and therefore Larsson won his second race in the 2022/23 Nitro Rallycross series. Oliver Eriksson finished second and Kris Meeke scored his first podium in Rallycross. In the standings Larsson (299 points) remains in the lead with Bakkerud (254 points) second and McConnel (233 points) third.
The NRX Next category saw two rounds this weekend with one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Casper Jansson (NRX Next) won Saturday’s event from George Megennis (NRX Next) and Jimmy Henderson (NRX Next). In Sunday’s final Casper Jansson was once more first at the finish after a close fight with Megennis. However, the Stewards decided to give a five seconds penalty to Jansson putting him in fourth place. Therefore Megennis became the winner with Jimmy Henderson second and Lane Vacala (NRX Next) third.
The next round of the 2022/23 Nitro Rallycross series is scheduled for January in Canada on snow and ice.
Group E – Brackets (Saturday): 1. Oliver Eriksson (S), FC1-X; 2.Robin Larsson (S), FC1-X; 3. Fraser McConnell (JAM), FC1-X; 4. Travis Pastrana (USA), FC1-X; 5. Kris Meeke (USA), FC1-X; 6. Andreas Bakkerud (N), FC1-X; 7. Conner Martell (USA), FC1-X; 8. Kevin Eriksson (S), FC1-X; 9. Austin Cindric (USA), FC1-X; 10. Chase Elliott (USA), FC1-X; 11. Oliver Bennett (GB), FC1-X.
Group E – Final (Sunday): 1. Robin Larsson (S), FC1-X; 2. Oliver Eriksson (S), FC1-X; 3. Kris Meeke (GB), FC1-X; 4. Kevin Eriksson (S), FC1-X; 5. Travis Pastrana (USA), FC1-X; 6. Fraser McConnell (JAM), FC1-X; 7. Oliver Bennett (GB), FC1-X – DNF; 8. Andreas Bakkerud (N), FC1-X – DNS.
NRX Next (Saturday): 1. Casper Jansson (S), NRX Next; 2. George Megennis (USA), NRX Next; 3. Jimmy Henderson (USA), NRX Next; 4. Lane Vacala (USA), NRX Next; 5. Eric Gordon (USA), NRX Next.
NRX Next (Sunday): 1. George Megennis (USA), NRX Next; 2. Jimmy Henderson (USA), NRX Next; 3. Lane Vacala (USA), NRX Next; 4. Casper Jansson (S), NRX Next; 5. Eric Gordon (USA), NRX Next.
Group E Drivers (6/9): 1. Robin Larsson (S), 299; 2. Andreas Bakkerud (N), 254; 3. Fraser McConnell (JAM), 233; 4. Oliver Eriksson (S), 212; 5. Travis Pastrana (USA), 197; 6. Conner Martell (USA), 169; 7. Oliver Bennett (GB), 159; 8. Kris Meeke (GB), 125; etc.
Group E Teams (6/9): 1. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing JC (USA), 553; 2. Olsbergs/MSE (S), 370; 3. Vermont SportsCar (USA), 366; 4. Meyer & Reinbold Racing (USA), 338; 5. Xite Energy Racing (GB), 305.