Thursday, December 2, 2021

Rallycross ‘Starting to Click’ for Sage Karam [EXCLUSIVE]

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Sage Karam tested his driving skills in several disciplines in 2021, including stock car racing, open wheel and rallycross. He doesn’t have much experience on dirt tracks yet, but his two wins in five laps of the Nitro Rallycross Next Series show that everything is starting to click.

Karam joined the NRX Next series for the 2021 season and continued a relationship with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, which has included IndyCar races since 2016. Karam has not yet reached his goal of winning the Indy 500, but he already has a name for himself in the first season of the NRX Next as he battles younger riders with extensive rallycross experience.

Karam wildly won the second event of the season at the ERX Motor Park. He spun on the first lap, causing the announcer to declare that he was out of competition. In the remaining laps, however, he began to methodically work his way through the field, taking the checkered flag to amaze himself, the crowd, and the announcers.

“I thought the race would be over by then,” said Karam Heavy before practice on November 13th. “But you know, I just bowed my head. From then on I just thought, ‘I’ll just do qualifying laps and hopefully get to the top. I made my joker [lap] immediately so that I could just concentrate on walking a normal line and just chop it off. “

A joker lap is an alternative route around the rallycross track that every driver must take in front of the white flag. Some choose to follow the route early to get it out of the way, while others wait until the last possible moment. Karam decided to hit the Joker early after his spin so he could just concentrate on doing clean laps for the rest of the race.

After winning the EXR Motor Park, Karam traveled to Arizona for the third round of the season. He put in solid runs during the training sessions on November 12th and 13th, but suffered severe damage to the nose of the number 24 in his first heat race.

The car left the track on a bunk, worried about Karam’s competitiveness. However, the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team made an extra effort and got him back on the track for his next event. Karam won the last race on Saturday’s schedule and crowned what he called the “drama-free” event.

While he has considerable experience behind the wheel of several vehicles, Karam had to make a few adjustments early in the NRX Next season. The events are very different from NASCAR Xfinity Series, IndyCar or endurance races due to several factors. First and foremost is the time in the vehicle.

“These races last over two hours,” said Karam. “These things are six minutes long, so it’s a completely different mentality. And the other racing sports where it’s like you’re in for the long run, trying to get yourself in position for the final stretch of the race. Here it’s like you’re doing 110% every single lap and if you have a mistake like the spin we had, you don’t have much time to get it back. So it’s a completely different mentality, but I love this race. It’s fun, there’s so much action. “

According to Karam’s point, the Indy 500 lasted two hours and 37 minutes on May 30, 2021. The Xfinity Series championship race on November 6th lasted two hours and 22 minutes. The Minnesota race that Karam won lasted six laps in total, which resulted in a shorter, more intense event.

The other significant change for Karam was the move to a dirt racing surface. He has some experience in American rallycross. He started in five races in 2019, resulting in three runner-ups and one win in Mid-Ohio. However, these ARX phases were different from what Karam experienced during the first season of NRX Next.

“I drove a couple of races away about two years ago,” added Karam. “We did pretty well. I think my worst result was like a second. I think I finished second four or five times and won a race, but those tracks were like half asphalt. These tracks are basically all dirt so it was a transition for me. I had to study, and I definitely wasn’t as fast in Nitro as I was in ARX [American Rallycross] two years ago. And I think that’s mainly because I’m just not quite used to dirt. “

Despite a learning experience, Karam has worked with teammates including Conner Martell to make improvements quickly. Winning his race in Minnesota only added confidence to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and the remaining events. He capitalized by winning again.

As a rider with considerable tarmac experience and far less dirt, Karam has continued to focus on improving his skills. Some of the tracks helped with this, like Travis Pastrana’s purpose-built circuit at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

As Karam Heavy explained, he has struggled with tight hairpin turns in the past. The route in Phoenix does not have this problem. Pastrana and his trusted crew designed a course with faster sections, bigger jumps and more sweeping turns.

“I feel like every track we went to just got cooler,” said Karam. “So the whole series did a great job and we really enjoyed something. And it’s cool to make some pretty big jumps along the way.

“There is definitely no shortage of that on this track. There are some pretty big ones here. There’s a corner here that’s like off-camber. You go sideways over a ridge. I mean, it has a little bit of everything. “

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As Karam Heavy explained, he has struggled with tight hairpin turns in the past. The route in Phoenix does not have this problem. Pastrana and his trusted crew designed a course with faster sections, bigger jumps and more sweeping turns.

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