DIRTFISH MOTORSPORTS’ CONNER MARTELL WINS GRC LITES PHOENIX II

By: Red Bull Rally Cross

DirtFish Motorsports’ Conner Martell followed up a second-place finish on Saturday with a victory on Sunday in the second leg of GRC Lites Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Martell, making only his fifth-ever start in the series, grabbed the lead from Olsbergs MSE X Forces driver Miki Weckstrom after Weckstrom took his joker lap, and held off a heavy challenge from Dreyer & Reinbold Racing rookie Cabot Bigham to hold onto the win.

“It was just hard work,” Martell said of his maiden Lites victory. “We had bad luck Friday, and bad luck this morning and didn’t get to qualify. But we kept our hopes up, we got out front in the heat, we came into the final with confidence and I just drove as confident as I could. And (Cabot) is a great competitor. I’m just happy we got to pull out the win.”

Martell, running his first full season in the series after three starts in 2015, rebounded from a poor showing in Sunday’s first heat to win his second heat and earn a front-row starting spot for the main event. Weckstrom laid claim to the victory in the other second-round heat, while Alex Keyes rebounded from a DNF in his heat to win the last chance qualifier.

The final was red-flagged after Preston Murray slammed into a tire barrier before the finish line on lap one, necessitating a full restart. While Weckstrom was able to claim the lead on the second start, Martell and Bigham were hot on his tail throughout; both drivers jokered halfway through the race and were able to make up enough time to get ahead the Finn on his joker lap.

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When a lingering mechanical issue forced leader Trenton Estep, who had not yet jokered, into a spin, Martell and Bigham inherited the top two spots. They held that order despite a battle that came down to the race’s very end, while Weckstrom salvaged third after an aggressive move by Alejandro Fernandez forced the disqualification of the Colombian from the final.

The GRC Lites season continues in Dallas at Fair Park on June 4. GRC Lites action from Phoenix will air on the NBC Sports Network on Wednesday, May 25 at 4:30PM ET.

Photo credit: Louis Yio