Vermont SportsCar (VSC) and Travis Pastrana brought home the win on their home turf as Nitro Rallycross held its first races on US soil this season, featuring the new all-electric Group E class.
The stage for Round 3 of the Nitro Rallycross series was the ERX Motor Park in Minnesota. This all dirt, roller coaster-esque course features big rolling jumps and banked turns, and is a prime example of the playful course designs born from the heart of Nitro Rallycross. This forward thinking layout also makes for a perfect course to showcase the new Nitro RX electric rallycross vehicles: the incredible 1000hp FC1-X.
VSC Group E team drivers Travis Pastrana and Conner Martell began the weekend strong going 1-2 respectively in timed qualifying and each winning their Battle Bracket seeding heat. Moving to the two-car duals of the Battle Brackets, the duo had less success with Martell spinning out of contention in his quarter final battle while Pastrana tagged a wall after a hard landing and lost his semi-final bracket. All attention then shifted to the Sunday races.
Pastrana began Sunday by dominating the opening heat ahead of Fraser McConnell and Martell, who was slowed with a tire puncture. The heat win vaulted Pastrana directly through to a front row start in the 8-car final.
Martell moved to the semi-finals where he took victory after a closely fought battle with Nitro RX Sweden winner Andreas Bakkerud. Starting on the front row alongside Bakkerud, he had to bide his time to take the lead, eventually moving ahead with a textbook over/under pass on the second lap and not looking back.
In the 8-car Final Pastrana started on the outside of the front row and powered past polesitter Robin Larsson on the jump between turns one and two. From there, Pastrana walked away from the field and turned in a rallycross masterclass: twice breaking the weekend lap record and setting the best time of the field on every lap to grab his and VSC team’s first win of the inaugural Group E season.
“Conner and I were quickest from the start of the weekend and we were really feeling strong,” said Pastrana. “I felt with his speed Conner may have been the only one that could have threatened me in the Final. It’s unfortunate he had a tire puncture, but I was able to bring the win home for the VSC team and bring our championship hopes back alive.”
“Thanks Vermont SportsCar, thanks for everyone that believed in me and [I’m] glad to be back on American soil. We got it done!”
Martell meanwhile got stuck in traffic during the chaotic first lap but quickly returned to podium contention. He was climbing the order when a tire puncture at the halfway point prevented him from taking home any hardware.
Despite the contrasting fortunes to his team-mate, Martell remained positive about his form over the weekend and what’s to come later in the season.
“Honestly, it was a really solid weekend for us,” he said. “We were really fast, had really good pace, we knew we could win and the bad luck kept hitting us.”
“We qualified P2 ahead of the battle bracket right behind Travis, won our semi and did an awesome pass on Bakkerud. I was feeling really confident going into the final.”
“I was really hoping Travis and I to be on the podium for the first American round but we’ll get them in California. I’m feeling really confident right now so we’ll keep pushing.”
The Nitro RX season resumes October 29-30 in California at Glen Helen Raceway.