A heroic drive from 16-year-old George Megennis bagged a second-place finish on the road for #YellowSquad at ERX Motor Park, which hosted rounds three and four of Nitro Rallycross’ Next feeder series.
Megennis followed up his round two win at the season-opening Utah Motorsports Campus with another trip to the podium in Minneapolis, pulling off a sensational performance that led to a podium finish despite carrying a puncture for most of the round four final.
However Megennis wouldn’t get to keep his silverware, as a stewards’ decision removed him from the final results and with it his podium medal.
Round four hadn’t started in the best way for Megennis, as contact exiting turn two in his heat race sent him towards a barrier that he only narrowly avoided hitting. The subsequent time loss consigned him to finishing third, putting him into the semi final race.
A great start to the semi gave Megennis the lead for most of his semi, though an undercut joker strategy by Casper Jansson ultimately demoted George to second place, putting him in fourth place on the grid for the all-important final.
Facing a tough start on the outside line Megennis had to get his launch off the line absolutely spot on – which he did with skill that belied his young years.
Stringing his Supercar Lites machine around the outside line, Megennis avoided a three-way jostle for position to his right and blasted straight past a spinning Sage Karam to take second place. By the exit of turn two, he was already applying pressure on Martin Enlund for the lead.
It didn’t take long for Megennis to pounce, slipping down the inside of Enlund at the last two corners and taking the lead. But his time at the front of the field was short lived, as a rear-left puncture allowed John Holtger to move into first, despite Megennis’ best efforts to defend the lead on the second lap.
Undeterred by his lack of rear-left tyre, Megennis refused to back down and held off both Enlund and Lane Vacala, the latter of whom still had the benefit of four inflated tyres, to lock down second place across the finish line – albeit a podium result he wouldn’t get to keep after a stewards’ decision removed him from the final classification.
Round three on Saturday had initially looked promising, winning a hard-fought heat race to put himself on the front row for the final.
A broken left-rear wheel for Karam led to him pushing Megennis wide at turn one at the start of the final but, with Megennis unable to see Karam was carrying damage, he followed him down towards turn two before further contact left Megennis stranded at turn two.
George Megennis, #YellowSquad driver
“That final was a great race – so much passing and action. Travis always talks about wanting to put on a show in Nitro and I think we delivered that this weekend! The track was amazing and they did a great job with it; there was less dust than in Utah and the jumps were really big.
“Missing the back-left tyre in the final made turn one really sketchy but I had fun driving regardless – that’s how good this track is. It was a bit stressful as the car could snap in one direction but to run the whole race flat-out like that was still fun.
“I was learning so much as I went along. For example, I had to completely change my technique for the starts during the weekend because of how slick the asphalt surface was on the grid. And this is where being part of #YellowSquad is so useful – I was in all the same engineering debriefs as Kevin, Timmy and Kenneth Hansen, plus had all of Eric Färén’s knowledge and experience to pour through the data and improve my driving through each session.”
Kevin Hansen, #YellowSquad Team Principal
“George did well on what was a tough weekend. The driving style needed here at ERX is very different to both Arvika in Sweden and also the Utah track last week, so he was learning as he went all weekend.
“His performance in the round four final showed how quickly he learned. He did an amazing job to be challenging at the front and found the speed he needed to fight for the win. When an opportunity arose to get himself back to the front of the pack after a difficult run in the earlier races he took it.
“We’re a bit surprised at the decision to disqualify him from the final as George was doing the same kind of moves I had been doing in the Supercar races, and I had no warnings or penalties all weekend. It’s a shame to end his weekend like that as he deserved his second place. He had earned it on merit.
“On the bright side, George has shown strong pace, had some great battles, and accrued lots of rallycross experience. This is only his third weekend as a rallycross driver after all, so his rate of development is already exceptional.
“As always our mechanics did a brilliant job to keep the car running in every session and George also avoided getting involved in any major incidents, so we have to give credit to the whole team for a well-executed weekend on the reliability front.”