Josh Mertz

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Josh Mertz
JoshMertz2.jpg
Mertz, as seen in a photo shoot for Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Age 22
Nationality Flag of Germany.svg German
Car # 81
Current Team Red Bull Subaru MRT
Championships 4 (2012B, 2013C, 2014B, 2015A, 2015B*)
Races 86 (84 starts)
Wins 25
Podiums 51
Finals 82
First Race 2012A British RX GP
First Win 2012A Canadian RX GP
Last Win 2017B British RX GP
Last Race 2016A British RX GP
NASA RallyCross Driver


Josh Mertz (born 4 July, 1996) is an American racing driver who represents the nation of Germany, currently driving for the Austrian racing team Red Bull Subaru MRT. He is the 2012B, 2013C, 2014B and 2015A champion, and the runner up in 2012A, 2012C, 2016A, and 2017A. He also was leading the championship in 2015B, until that season was ended early.

He is the winningest driver in NASA RallyCross competition. He has twenty-five race wins, and thirty-six podium finishes. Also, he is the inaugural Royal Purple Endurance Cup Champion, also winning the Cup in 2015A.

Career

2012A

Mertz's original Citroën Xsara, which he purchased from the Citroën WRT
The turning point in the 2012A championship hunt for the German driver

Josh purchased a Citroën Xsara from the Citroën World Rally Team in preparation for the NASA RallyCross Challenge. He started the season well with a heat win and a second place in Croft. In Island Rally, he ended up spinning in his heat and barely missed the podium, an accident with Elliot Porterfield in Turn One ruined his chances at victory. Later on in the lap, a collision with Brandon Lambert broke the steering arm on the car, and without factory support for his Citroën, the car was unusable. He was later offered a works team with Subaru, which he held until the end of 2012B. In Negus, he finished second in his heat and third in the race, to Brandon Lambert and new teammate Cody Erdmann. Riverside was a big race for Mertz's MRT team, as they entered five cars for the race. Himself, Cody Erdmann, Adam Simons (who left rivals Revolution Racing), Dako, and Adam Sweet. A collision while battling for the lead with Dylan Livengood in the heat found him and Livengood drag racing out of the sand. In a cruel twist of fate, his teammate Simons went on to win the heat. In the LCQ, another prang with Livengood found him off in Turn One on lap one. Later on, a final instance of contact with his teammate Sweet found the suspension collapsed, and the #81 missed his first final ever. The following week in St. Eustache, Mertz downsized his team to two cars and it proved to work - he won the race convincingly. The next week, he was the only MRT Subaru and he needed to win his heat AND the final to win the championship. He accomplished the former, but not the latter, finishing 3rd. Mertz finished 2nd in points, on a tally of 86.

2012B

Mertz found himself with a complete factory contract with Subaru in front of him. He split Erdmann and himself into the senior MRT team, and Adam Simons was put into the new Junior team. In Croft, he won convincingly, proving that 12A's 2nd place finish wasn't a fluke. In the Netherlands he had his typical 2nd place finish, but this time it was early in the season and he could afford to have it. In Charlotte, a collsion with Tristan Hagenstein bent the rim on the Subaru in the LCQ and he was forced to retire. He bounced back taking another dominating win in Canada and one in Negus, to his own surprise. He found himself leading the championship by a comfortable margin entering the new round in Los Angeles, where Subaru unreliability hit again - this time the engine quit on the Subaru Impreza as he was on his way for a fifth podium out of 6 races. In the North Proving Grounds, he strangely (yet spectacularly) found himself prependicular to the track over the jump, losing the lead and falling to 5th place. In the South Proving Grounds, it was anxious moments for the MRT driver as he already knew his team and manufacturer were the champions - but he found himself in very unfamiliar territory - the no holds bar LCQ. He was on his way to winning it until team orders were not delivered to Junior driver Adam Simons, and the two made contact in the merge between the main course and the joker. Furious, Mertz went to the Junior garage and demanded Simons give his position up or face explusion from the team. In haste, Simons withdrew from the race, forfeiting his spot and quit the team. That gave Mertz the drive he needed to sneak the win away in the final corner and win the race and the championship.

Mertz's 2012B championship winning Subaru Impreza

2012C

With the success of his private outfit, he sold the team to (ironically) Citroën for the 2012C season. With true, 100% factory support, and the #1 on the side of his car, he vowed to become the sports first Double World Champion - however there was a hungry pack wanting to prevent that. He was partnered once again by his blisteringly fast teammate and dear friend Cody Erdmann in car #2, who wanted a championship of his own. In Croft, once again, he drove away from the rest and won uncontested, becoming the first repeat winner at the British circuit. As per usual, his lone third place of the season (for a third consecutive season) at Valkenswaard. For the first trip to Germany, Mertz found himself inspired by the home crowd. However, disappointingly, he wasn't able to convert it into a race win. Cold conditions at the Gifhorn circuit limited Mertz to 4th - proving the Citroën may in fact have had a weakness. In Charlotte, for the second time, he found himself in an accident, this time it wasn't race ending. Contact with Tristan Hagenstein sent him across the track, and as it is inspired by a NASCAR quad oval, he slid to the front straight. He finished on the road in third, however, he didn't let enough cars by and was dropped to 6th in the final running order. The series then went to his favourite track, St. Eustache, and yet another comfortable victory for Mertz, with an added treat - a Citroën factory 1-2. Champagne hadn't tasted better as the two teammates soaked themselves in glory. At the North Proving Grounds, Mertz went into the event leading the points with a hefty margin - but that shrank with each coming race. Fourth in the North Proving Grounds when he spun from second. Seventh at the South after he was sent into a terrifying tumble from Andrew Fessler. Finally, the finale at Negus. With a points gap so slim that you couldn't sit down in your seat for, it came down to one instance of contact, one penalty, and the #1's chances at a second straight title were vanished.

2013A

Wanting to redeem himself, he came into the 2013A season with mixed emotions. Third place in Croft was his lowest result there to date. Same with the fourth place in the Netherlands. Disgruntled, Mertz did not go to Germany, and when the season was called, he found himself off the championship podium for the first time ever.

2013B

Turn One, Lap One, Final at Croft...
...and Turn One, Lap One, Final at Valkenswaard!

When the call was received at the Citroën factory that the NASA RallyCross Challenge was starting back up, Mertz dusted off his old #81 Citroën and went testing at Croft. This extensive testing proved essential. He dominated his heat race. In the final, roaring down into turn one, he had the edge on Tanner Smith, until he attempted to chop off the #13's nose and sent himself spiraling into the sand trap. Remarkably, he had a spirited drive and lifted himself within a car length of Tanner Smith at the line, fortunately breaking the curse that he had at the British circuit where the 2012A running of the race was the only time he had ever finished 2nd. A week after that triumphant drive at Croft, Mertz and his Citroën team were boosted by two brand new Citroën C4 WRCs - the cars that won the 2008 World Rally Championship. Mertz dominated his heat, getting a fantastic start and pulling away from the rest of the field. Erdmann was on course to win his heat until contact with another driver spun him around, but he refired the car and finished second in his. Mertz then was leading on entry to turn one in the final, but then a bump from Chris Wetz sent him around, and relegated him to 6th place. He had yet another spirited drive, and came within a second of winning at one point. He spun around off the final corner, and went across the finish line in reverse to finish second by a bumper to Brandon Lambert. In Charlotte, he had led the first three laps of the heat until he got distracted by the slow car of Casey Lester, plowing through the barrier and losing the lead to Tanner Smith. In the final hairpin of the final lap, Josh was there, but once again plowed into the barriers and the heat win streak was over. On the third restart of the final, he was fifth in the first hairpin, finally happy to get through the first corner clean - until his teammate Austin Hakes clouted the barrier and stacked the field up, leaving Mertz on his side. He rallied back to third place, but going into the first hairpin on the final lap, hit his apex perfectly but Brandon Lambert slammed the Citroën in the driver side and popped it onto two wheels over the water, and when the car came back down, it broke a component in the engine. The car died in the water, stranding the 2012B champion and leaving him to finish 7th after his teammate (who actually won on the road) 's disqualification for causing the pileup. The following week in Canada he was expected by many to win the race, and led the race with his teammate Erdmann in second (both of whom won their heats) until Lap 7, where he cut the track (once without knowing) and wasn't notified to drive to the penalty box, so for the first time ever, Mertz did not win at St. Eustache. The following week in Negus he was the quickest car out of the whole field as he convincingly won his heat. In the final he was set to win, however a bobble in the first turn on the final lap set him behind Brandon Lambert and Caleb Paul. Further hampering things, he made contact with friend and rival Dylan Livengood in the final hairpin, which resulted in Mertz being turtled. In a rage, Mertz climbed out of his still running (but upside down) Citroën and marched to the Revolution pitbox to demand to ask Livengood why he crashed him. An altercation nearly occurred, but not before Mertz was subsequently suspended for the rest of the season.

2013C

Coming out of the off-road course on the first lap at Croft
Turn three on the first lap at Valkenswaard, after he got turned by Dylan Livengood
Not the ideal parking spot after contacting Tanner Smith in turn four on the first lap at Island Rally

The 2013C season did not start much better for the #81. Three incidents on the first lap (one in every race) has hindered the #81, however remarkably is 6 points behind Dylan Livengood after 3 rounds. In Croft, Mertz misjudged the grip change and flipped out of second place. In Valkenswaard, long time friend and rival Dylan Livengood bumped the #81 out of the way from the lead in turn three. He was in contention for a podium, however a clash with Caleb Paul (as Paul was exiting the Joker) ruined the opportunity. In Long Island, Mertz hit Tanner Smith's spinning VW in turn three and spun up the hill, relegating him to last place. Remarkably, he clawed his way through the field to finish second, a car length away from Livengood. In Charlotte, he cut the track four times after being spun on the start. He was able to climb to second, but was demoted to sixth after the cuts. The Citroën ties were cut in Talladega, and all was well until a bump with Keith Sherman warranted a trip to the penalty box. The night came unglued when Mertz was flipped over the tire wall by Doug DeNise. Mertz's season turned around straight away at Negus, where a record sixth consecutive heat win set him up for his first victory in over a year. The luck continued into the following week at Riverside, where Mertz would finish second to his teammate Cody Erdmann, a reverse of the result a week prior. The luck was short lived, however, as Mertz was spun on the start by Keith Sherman. He drove through the field, only to get spun by teammate Cody Erdmann and then spin coming off of the jump. He came home fifth. The first LCQ visit for Mertz in over 2 seasons at St. Eustache resulted in him winning it. The race nearly became a disaster on lap two, where he had a half spin while chasing Dylan Livengood. He pushed at over a second a lap faster than the #1 to pressure him into a mistake, and Mertz slipped into the lead. Teammates tangled for the second consecutive week, and this time it resulted in Erdmann being punted down the order. Mertz's bad luck finally ended, as a second place finish (and a ninth heat win) secured the 2013C Drivers' Championship.

2014A

The 2014A season start resulted in the #1 being in 5th place in the Drivers' Championship - the lowest ever for Mertz. The All Star race went his way in the heat, but a tangle with Brandon Lambert on the start hampered his chances at victory - however he clawed his way to finish second behind Lambert. The 2014A season proper in Croft resulted in a heat win as well, but transmission issues bit car #1 and resulted in him focusing more on his shifter and not preparing for the gymkhana jump, thus a terrifying tumble and a podium dashed. Mertz came home fifth, ahead of the VW's but behind the Revolution Mitsubishi's and two of his team Subarus. The following week in Valkenswaard ended quickly for Mertz. A late switch to a sequential transmission on car #1 resulted in few laps of practice, and thus the defending Champion was slower than most cars on circuit. He failed to transfer through to the final for the first time since Charlotte in 2012B. The following race in Spain, Mertz rebounded, winning his heat. Despite contact with Matt Emerson, he recovered for a fifth place finish. In St. Eustache, a hard fought battle with Dylan Livengood for the win was made for naught, as Mertz was put to third for contact with Brandon Lambert on lap two. The season continued to be dismal after that, due to a suspension for the round of Long Island. The week after in Talladega, Mertz and Livengood clashed, with Mertz intentionally wrecking Livengood after he blocked Mertz on two seperate attempts of a race restart. In protest to the incident at Talladega, he would not race the final four races in Negus, Riverside, and Irwindale. Instead, he would only practice. He ended his worst season (and championship defense) in 8th, with 68 points.

2014B

2015A

2015B

Racing record

Career Summary

Season Series Team Races Wins Heat Wins Podiums Points Position
2012A NASA RallyCross Challenge MRT 6 1 4 4 86 2nd
2012B NASA RallyCross Challenge MRT 8 4 5 5 131 1st
2012C NASA RallyCross Challenge Citroën WRXT 8 2 5 3 112 2nd
2013A NASA RallyCross Challenge Citroën WRXT 3 0 1 1 35 4th
2013B NASA RallyCross Challenge Citroën WRXT 5 0 4 2 66 4th
2013C NASA RallyCross Challenge Citroën WRXT 4 0 4 2 160 1st
Red Bull Subaru MRT 6 2 5 4
2014A NASA RallyCross Challenge Red Bull Subaru MRT 6 0 4 1 68 8th
2014B NASA RallyCross Challenge Red Bull Subaru MRT 10 3 5 8 171 1st*
2015A NASA RallyCross Challenge Red Bull Subaru MRT 5 2 3 3 117 1st*
Subaru MRT 2 0 2 2
2015B NASA RallyCross Challenge Aftershock Motorsports 1 0 1 1 19 2nd*

* Season in progress.

NASA RallyCross Challenge results

(key) (Races in bold indicate winner of their heat; Races in italics indicate the driver transferred through via the LCQ)

Year Entrant Chassis 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 WDC Points
2012A MRT Citroën Xsara GBR
2
ISR
4
2nd 86
Subaru Impreza NEG
3
RVR
15
CAN
1
NED
3
2012B MRT Subaru Impreza WRX STi GBR
1
NED
3
CHA
9
CAN
1
NEG
1
LA
5
PVGN
5
PVGS
1
1st 131
2012C Citroën Red Bull WRXT Citroën Xsara GBR
1
NED
3
GER
4
CHA
61
CAN
1
PVGN
4
PVGS
7
NEG
102
2nd 112
2013A Citroën Red Bull WRXT Citroën Xsara GBR
3
NED
4
GER
DNS
4th 35
2013B Citroën Red Bull WRXT Citroën Xsara GBR
2
4th 56
Citroën C4 WRC NED
2
CHA
7
CAN
83
NEG
84
BTW
WD
2013C Citroën Red Bull WRXT Citroën C4 RX GBR
3
NED
5
ISR
2
CHA
65
1st 160
Red Bull Subaru MRT Subaru Impreza WRX STi TAL
7
NEG
1
RVR
2
BTW
5
CAN
1
IRW
2
2014A Red Bull Subaru MRT Subaru Impreza WRX STi GBR
5
NED
10
ESP
5
CAN
36
ISR
SUS
TAL
87
NEG
RVR
DNS
IRW1
IRW2
8th 68
2014B Red Bull Subaru MRT Subaru Impreza WRX STi GBR
1
NED
2
ISR
4
GER
5
CAN
2
TAL
3
NEG
1
BTW
2
RVR
2
IRW
1
1st* 171*
2015A Red Bull Subaru MRT Subaru Impreza WRX STi GBR
1
NED
2
ISR
1
CAN
4
PVGS
9
1st 117
Subaru MRT NEG
2
LV
2



2015B Aftershock Motorsports Subaru Impreza GBR
21
NED
42
ISR
1A
TAL
11
1st 77
2016A Red Bull Subaru MRT Subaru Impreza WRX Sit NED
5A
GER
ESP
CAN
ASP
NEG
PVGS
BTW
RVR
LV
5th 25

* Season in progress.
1 Car #1 was deemed to have not given enough positions back after being pushed off the track by Cars #6 and #27, was dropped three positions in the final classification for Charlotte.
2 Car #1 was deemed to have caused too many instances of contact in a set amount of time, and thus was put to the back of the field in the final.
3 Car #81 was dropped from 2nd to 8th after he did not visit the penalty box after he was deemed to excessively cut the track.
4 Car #81 was dropped from 7th to 8th after being accused of "driving aggresively" following an accident with Car #1 which left Car #81 turtled, unable to continue on the final lap.
5 Car #81 was demoted four places after exceeding track limits four separate times (one position per instance)
6 Car #1 finished first on the road, but was penalized and placed in third due to contact with Brandon Lambert.
7 Car #1 was placed to the back in the final after intentionally wrecking Car #51.

Records and Accolades

Mertz holds the following NASA RallyCross Challenge records and accolades

Record Number
Championship titles (2012B, 2013C, 2014B)
Final Appearances 57
Heat Wins 39
Heat Wins in a single season 9
Longest streak of heat wins 8 heats (2013C Croft-2013C Bent Twig)1
Longest streak between wins 19 races (2012C Canada - 2013C Negus)
Podiums 35
Race wins 14
Wins in a single season 4 (2012B, tied with Dylan Livengood (2014A) and Cody Erdmann (2014B))
Podiums in a single season 8 (2014B)


1 - Some sources extend Mertz's sequence to 10 heats, including the 2013B St. Eustache and Negus races, and discounting the intervening Bent Twig round, on the basis that Mertz withdrew his entry before the race.

Trivia

  • Up until 2014A, he had finished on the podium at every single race at Croft. Interestingly, he had finished in each podium spot twice.