Two races in Europe, and now two races in the US, the 2022-23 Nitro Rallycross season is really starting to come together. With four winners from four race weekends so far, there’s very little to separate the field that’s stacked with talent.
Nevertheless, Dominik Wilde gives it his best shot in the latest round of DirtFish’s Power Rankings.
10. Niclas Grönholm
Another absent weekend for Niclas Grönholm as he focused on his primary campaign in Europe means his ranking remains unimpacted after the Glen Helen race weekend.
9. Kris Meeke
Another non-moving absentee, the rapid Kris Meeke might have been a welcome addition to the field in Southern California with Xite Energy Racing’s regular driver Jenson Button opting to sit out the weekend at the 11th hour.
8. Conner Martell
It was very much a weekend to forget for Vermont SportsCar and Conner Martell, with the young American’s clear pace being blighted by problems not at all of his own doing.
Fast in his opening battle head-to-head, he ultimately lost out to Andreas Bakkerud after sustaining a late puncture. Drivetrain issues prevented him from making an impact on Sunday, but he was able to wrestle his car to a final finish, despite his car’s four-wheel-drive system putting in a part-time shift.
7. Oliver Bennett
Each weekend has largely been better than the last across Oliver Bennett’s Nitro Rallycross career and Glen Helen was certainly no exception as he took his best result to-date.
Flying the Xite flag solo after Jenson Button’s withdrawal, Bennett ran eventual event winner Fraser McConnell close in the opening round of the battle bracket, before winning the last chance qualifier on day two.
In the final, he was in the thick of the action throughout, and was there to pounce when the two Olsbergs drivers made contact on the final lap.
Fifth in Minnesota, fourth in California, is a maiden podium on the cards in Phoenix?
6. Travis Pastrana
After topping timed practice and winning his seeding heat, it looked as if 2021 would be repeating itself for Pastrana – kick-starting his season in Minnesota before winning in California. Sadly for the reigning champ, that’s where the similarities ended.
An exit from the first round of the battle bracket that also claimed fellow title-chaser Robin Larsson set him on the back foot, and unlike Larsson, Pastrana was unable to claw his way back.
He stopped on-track in his first heat then sustained damage in his semi – the subsequent repair job meant that he missed the deadline to be on the grid for the LCQ on a weekend where merely starting that race would’ve guaranteed him a final slot.
From the highest of highs four weeks ago, to a certain low point. Pastrana will want to forget this one in a hurry.
5. Kevin Eriksson
After a late start to his season, Kevin Eriksson continues his fightback.
He reminded everyone what they’d been missing by knocking out points leader Robin Larsson in the first battle bracket race before falling to Fraser McConnell who’d go on to win both qualifying and the event overall.
On Sunday he made the final via the semis, winning his convincingly. An early joker in the final undid any chance of an overall victory though as the early leaders build an unassailable gap out in front.
4. Oliver Eriksson
Oliver Eriksson, the champion-slayer. That’s how his Glen Helen weekend got underway with a resolute win over Pastrana in the first round of the battle bracket. He’d go on to make it to the final where only Fraser McConnell, in a league of his own all weekend, could prevent the younger Eriksson brother taking his second TQ sticker of the season.
Sunday was a little more tricky, however, as he lost an early lead in the first heat after jokering late, then had to qualify for the final through boththe semis and the LCQ, sustaining punctures in both.
A podium was on the cards in the final, but the challenge couldn’t be sustained as the DRR JC freight train rolled to yet another sweep.
3. Andreas Bakkerud
Like fellow RX Cartel driver, Bakkerud’s Glen Helen weekend was all about Sunday.
Unable to match Fraser McConnell in his first round heat, he rocketed from the third row of the grid to take second in his semi. In the final, he mounted a challenge for the lead but McConnell held firm out front. A late joker dropped him behind Larsson, but not before the winners of the first two rounds banged doors to the line.
Third marked a return to the podium for a guy who only just missed out on it last time despite destroying his car back then.
2. Fraser McConnell
How long have we been talking about Fraser McConnell’s first win being around the corner? Well, he’s finally a Nitro Rallycross Group E winner, and boy did he make it a good one – and after his car-killing crash at the previous round, the victor’s champagne must have tasted even sweeter.
Starting the weekend with a maiden top qualifier result, ‘Frazzz’ set himself up nicely for Sunday and he duly capitalized, winning his opening heat with barely a challenge, before resisting Robin Larsson in the final.
No longer a future winner, are we now looking at a champion-in-waiting?
1. Robin Larsson
After the first day of competition, the seemingly superhuman Robin Larsson looked to finally be showing weakness. Missing out on a seeding heat win and out of the battle bracket in the very first round, it was an unusual display for the driver that’s headed the points since round one.
On Sunday though he was back on form. He might not have won thanks to DRR JC team-mate Fraser McConnell who was very much in a league of his own all weekend, but he gave it a good shot.
In the end, a third-straight second place, continuing his unbroken top-two streak this year was enough to keep him atop of the points standings as well as our rankings.