Temecula, CA — After a stellar Top-2 qualifying session, Mitchell DeJong’s podium hopes at the high-banked half mile of Bristol Motor Speedway were shattered on Saturday during Round 2 of the Global Rallycross Lites series, when turn-one contact broke a suspension mount eventually forcing him into the safety barrier and onto the flatbed tow truck.
The wild weekend at the “Coliseum” in Bristol, Tennessee started Friday in bright fashion with the debut of the new livery on the #24 Red Bull Olsbergs MSE GRC Lites race car. As the only Red Bull branded GRC Lite car in the world, the new look has turned some heads and garnered the attention of GRC fans from all over. Soon after the livery was placed, Mitchell went to work taking the shiny rocket into the first rounds of practice as he ran consistent lap times and inched his way toward the front. When it came time to qualify (aka seed) for the first heat race, Mitchell had tamed the steep 30 degree banked pavement course transitions, gravel lined chicanes, and high speed jump to nab the second place qualifier.
With his highest seeding in GRC Lites, Mitchell was now poised and confident to do well in his heat race. Mitchell and his foes sat on the line, when the green light finally flashed giving him the launch signal to grab the holeshot. As the chaos ensued behind him, he stretched out a 12 second gap on the field when his #24 Red Bull and Royal Purple powered Olsbergs MSE came to a halt. Mitchell pulled to the side and watched his lead diminish into his first GRC Lites DNF. Later inspection found a skid plate had been damaged leaving vital engine components vulnerable to rocks and debris, ultimately forcing the engine to seize.
With head high about his continued improvement and driving performance, Mitchell left the #24 in the hands of his Olsbergs MSE mechanics to have it ready for Saturday’s Heat 2 and Main races. And that they did, by having Mitchell’s Red Bull racer ready to go!
The morning dawned with a fresh day to capture a top-2 spot for advancing straight to the main. With a second row start in Heat 2, Mitchell knew he had to make it through turn one to have a chance for a top finish, so he cautiously went wide into the high-banked pavement of turn one. Mitchell dropped down into the apex when the leader had spun forcing the field to scatter. Unfortunately, Mitchell became the victim as there was heavy-enough contact to break an A-arm mount. Without knowing of the damage, he raced into the next turn to realize his chance of turning was nill and slid into the K-rail safety barrier. The damage was race ending and left MItchell with only one last shot for the Main event, the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ).
As if the bad luck wouldn’t end, Global Rallycross had changed the scheduling for the GRC Lites class to move the LCQ forward. With what was originally a 3 hour break to do any repair, became only 20 minutes, slashing all hopes of racing the LCQ or Main Event.
While the bad luck forces the young DeJong into 7th place in the GRC Lites points series, his continued display of passion and speed makes the very first X-Games Global Rallycross Lites event at Irwindale Speedway on August 4th a must watch event! Get Tickets for X-Games Global Rallycross: http://xgamesirwindale.frontgatetickets.com/choose.php?a=1&lid=81642&eid=91971. Watch X-Games Global Rallycross on ESPN: Sunday August 4th, 5 pm ET on ESPN
Photos by Matt Kalish