McConnell ready for big league

McConnell ready for big league

By Rory Daley
Observer writer

Friday, October 11, 2019

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AMERICAS Rallycross Championship (ARX) driver and Loenbro Motorsports team manager Steve Arpin is giving 2019 ARX2 champion Fraser McConnell a nod of approval.

He said McConnell is ready for the big league.

“I'd be comfortable putting him on the starting grid today,” Arpin told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

Arpin's comments come after seeing the 21-year-old behind the wheel of his cbdMD-sponsored Loenbro Motorsports run ARX Ford Fiesta. McConnell received the test drive for winning the 2019 ARX2 championship at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, October 6. The course hosted the final two rounds of ARX.

Currently, the rallycross series runs a dual-class system featuring 2-litre turbocharged, four-wheel-drive cars that have over 600bhp. These are labelled ARX Rallycross supercars and are from manufacturers as diverse as Ford, Subaru and Volkswagen.

The ARX2 cars are a single specification series using a Ford Fiesta body on a custom chassis also with four-wheel-drive, but with a mid-mounted 2.4-litre non-turbo 310bhp engine. ARX2 is used as a feeder series for ARX, familiarising drivers with car dynamics and the circuits the championship uses.

“The ARX2 cars are like two-stroke bikes, operating at high rpms due to their narrow powerband. It prepares drivers for the better handling ARX supercars that obviously have more power and torque across a wider rpm range,” explained Arpin.

Arpin added that he was excited to be sitting with McConnell at the ARX Combine, at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on October 7. He had been following the Jamaican's progress during the season, marking him out as top contender for the test early on.

“He was fast and got up to speed quickly. To see that talent adapt so fast, he's got a bright future in the sport. A pure natural,” he said.

Beyond the learning curve of having to battle alongside top-tier drivers like himself, current 2019 ARX champion Tanner Foust, Scott Speed and ex-World Rally Championship driver Patrik Sandell, Arpin felt McConnell should be looking to join the ARX main game.

“Fraser has the personality and the etiquette off-track to succeed in ARX,” said Arpin.

McConnell's win marks a two-year effort that saw him join ARX2 last year for DirtFish Motorsports where he finished fourth.

“Winning the ARX2 championship this year was a dream come true,” McConnell told Auto.

Unlike 2018, where a series of poor finishes stalled a potential rookie championship win, he approached this year and the final two rounds with a different mindset. Mathematically, only American Cole Keatts could have caught him on the Sunday. McConnell explained there was no room for error due to the high level of talent in ARX2.

“We were trying to balance being conservative and fast by not doing anything stupid, but once we had sealed the title I was going to do everything to end with a win,” he said.

McConnell puts the ARX2 championship at the top of his current racing CV and is looking forward to focusing on his World Rallycross campaign.

“We're headed next to South Africa for the final round of World Rallycross to try and get back my third place in that championship.”

As for driving the ARX supercar: “Best car I've ever driven,” he replied.

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