Continuing the theme of “anything can happen” that GRC Lites established in Memphis, rallycross newcomer Gustavo Yacaman earned the pole position in his first start this afternoon at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. But when all was said and done, it was the top two drivers from Memphis—Conner Martell and Cyril Raymond—and sophomore driver Travis PeCoy earning the first round heat victories on Saturday afternoon.
Yacaman, who only signed with AF Racing on Thursday to compete in the event, posted a time of 31.811 seconds in qualifying to earn the top spot. Coming into qualifying, the Colombian driver admitted that this weekend’s course, a new layout to all drivers in the series, offered him an opportunity to take advantage.
“It plays against you in Europe where the tracks are two minutes long, but I don’t think it will matter here as much (to know the course),” he explained. “I think we will get up to speed quickly. The level of the series is pretty good—we’ve seen throughout the years that there are no slouches.
“But the tires, brakes, four-wheel drive, everything is brand new to me. There is no advantage there. It’s going to be hard work, but it will be exciting for sure.”
Heat 1A saw PeCoy hold off James Rimmer and Cole Keatts, while Martell conquered Heat 1B, just like he did three weekends ago in Memphis. This time, however, he had to do it the hard way, getting past Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Christian Brooks late in the five-lap session.
“This course is really unique and it’s a really cool track,” Martell said. “There are a lot more right hand turns at this track (than Memphis). It’s a really short track so there will be a lot of close racing—I’m sure times are never going to be far off. It’s going to be really good racing this weekend, and I’m really excited for it.”
Heat 1C, meanwhile, featured chaos for all four drivers. Raymond was pushed into the Joker Lap on the first lap, having to correct heavily to avoid taking a first-lap Joker penalty, while Yacaman found his way onto two wheels. In the end, Raymond got past Colin Braun to win the session by .391 seconds.
“The first lap was very hard, and I pushed hard to come back,” Raymond noted. “I overtook Gustavo in the dirt section, so that was really cool. After that, I pushed very hard to catch the faster driver. My last lap was very fast, so I’m very happy about my speed today. It was a crazy race, but it was good for the beginning of the weekend.”
GRC Lites Louisville continues on Sunday with second-round heats, semifinals, the last chance qualifier, and the main event. Fans can follow the action by downloading the GRC Series app on the App Store and Google Play, or online at http://livetiming.net/grc. NBCSN will show the action from Louisville on Wednesday, May 24 at 5PM ET.