It looked as if Fraser McConnell was set for a breakthrough at the last Nitro Rallycross round in Southern California. After a season of promise, things were finally coming together nicely for a strong overall result.
He’d beaten then-championship leader Timmy Hansen in the battle bracket but narrowly lost out to Travis Pastrana a round later, however that set him up perfectly for Sunday where the strong run continued… at first.
McConnell rocketed off the line in his opening heat to take an early lead in his Ford Fiesta ST. A win there would give him an automatic spot in the final, and with a front row start to boot, but luck cruelly took a turn for the worse.
“Everyone knows that motorsport is heartbreaking and super unforgiving but Sunday in California, we were on for one of our biggest results in Nitro so far and then leading with four laps to go the axle broke,” he told DirtFish.
“You know, normally when these things happen you’re able to put your finger on it and say ‘well it broke because I hit this hole or went in the corner in rut or in a wall’ but it just snapped, [there was] no real impact.”
The freak split-second failure hadn’t just undone McConnell’s heat race, but his weekend entirely: “There’s not much else to do, you kind of limp home. That was a bit of a big letdown, but then it’s also hard to do anything after that from that point on.
“It’s impossible to be a superhero from the back of the grid. That kind of was the end of the weekend for me.”
This story might sound all doom and gloom so far, and sure an overall event classification of 11th might not represent a fair return on the high hopes that Saturday delivered. But McConnell refuses to get downbeat about the episode and is eyeing a strong end to the season at round five in Florida.
“[There’s] still positives to take from Saturday, we were one of the fastest cars out there and that result doesn’t really knock our confidence or our drive to win,” he insisted. “We still want to go out there and be the best car out there and stand on the top step and I really believe we can do that.
“You know me, I’ll always go out there and give it a hundred [percent] and push until the very end but even though the top step [in the points] is out of contention, I’ll still be able to get a consolation with a top result this weekend.
“[I’m] still going in to make up as much points as I can in the championship, but as of right now it’s just trying to end the season on a high.”
The final round – at Florida International Rally and Motorsports Park – is on a course that will have more sealed surfaces than any other round so far this season, something ‘Frazz’ believes will play to his strengths owing to his karting experience.
But off the track, he’s also expecting to receive a boost in the form of an influx of fans. With Florida being the closest race to his home nation Jamaica, it serves as something of a home event for the Olsbergs driver.
“It’s cool that all the Jamaican fans are coming because it’s so close to home,” he said. “Everyone’s going to try and make the trip and that’s going to be a really great addition to the atmosphere in the paddock, that’s going to give me that extra bit of energy.”
He’s also looking to reverse that bracket defeat to Pastrana by getting one over the points leader before the year’s out.
“In terms of beating someone I definitely want to beat Travis,” he said. “He’s my childhood hero and I’d definitely like to get one up on him this weekend.”
Once the season wraps on Sunday afternoon, attention will immediately turn to next season, with McConnell keen to remain in Nitro Rallycross, provided the all-important funding can be secured.
“The only plan for 2022 right now is to secure our budget and make sure we can keep Team Frazz running. My participation will be solely dependent on securing funds.”