--> EKN Trackside: Rotax Pan-American Challenge – Preview – ekartingnews

EKN Trackside: Rotax Pan-American Challenge – Preview

International shoot-out for final Rotax Grand Finals tickets set for NOLA Motorsports Park

This weekend marks the beginning of a busy two months in the sport, with the world stage focused on the Untied States. The Rotax Pan-American Challenge will be contested at the NOLAMotorsportsPark in New Orleans this weekend, with the final four tickets set to be awarded to next month’s Rotax Grand Finals. The ‘Olympics of Karting’ event will bring together over 300 drivers from more than 60 countries, hosted for the first time on USA soil. The Pan-Am event will bring together nearly 200 international racers in the seven Rotax Max Challenge categories, with the top driver in Senior Max, DD2, DD2 Masters, and Junior Max earning the final tickets to the November 13-16 world championship. In addition, the top-three pilots who land on the podium in the Mini and Micro categories will land a qualifying spot in the Invitational event, held in conjunction with the Grand Finals.

California driver Fritz Leesmann is among the Team USA drivers competing this weekend in DD2 (Photo: seanbuur.com)

California driver Fritz Leesmann is among the Team USA drivers competing this weekend in DD2 (Photo: seanbuur.com)

Drivers and teams settled in earlier in the week, including last week as some took the opportunity to compete in the USRMC Texas ProKart Challenge event. Wednesday began unofficial practice as drivers took to the track for six sessions. Thursday, competitors took to the track four times, along with learning on the Parc Ferme procedures as many are new to the tire and fuel barns in Rotax competition. The competition begins Friday with qualifying and opening heat action taking place, with the final two rounds of heats contested on Saturday. Prefinal and final events to decide the Pan-American Challenge champions are set for Sunday.

Over 20 drivers are entered in the DD2 category, filled with a number of top drivers from around the world. The most famous name in Rotax competition is two-time Grand Finals winner Pier-Luc Ouellette. The Canadian is set for another run at the world Rotax title, qualified through the Canadian Karting Nationals. Another former champion in the field is South African Cristiano Morgado. The defending DD2 Masters champion is taking on the young guns to help warm-up for next month’s Grand Finals. Swedish driver Kevin Ludi and Belgian Xen De Ruwe have already raced in North America this season, competing at the Florida Winter Tour. Both are locked in for the Grand Finals, using the weekend for a test session. The majority of the field is made up of North Americans. Fritz Leesmann (Challenge of the Americas), Daniel Formal (US Rotax Grand Nationals) and Joey Wimsett (Can-Am Karting Challenge) are among the three champions in 2013 gunning for the Grand Finals title. Four international drivers round out the field, gunning for the final DD2 ticket.

Veteran Alan Rudolph is searching for another victory to add to his ageless CV (Photo: seanbuur.com)

Veteran Alan Rudolph is searching for another victory to add to his ageless CV (Photo: seanbuur.com)

Similar to the regular DD2 field, the Masters group is over the 20 driver mark, with a majority looking to earn the final Grand Finals ticket. The North American contingent has a strong chance of earning the victory on the weekend, with four drivers already with Grand Finals experience. American Alan Rudolph earned his second straight trip, thanks to another Challenge of the Americas and US Rotax Grand Nationals title. Canadian Stuart Clark was among the top contenders last year in Portugal, and the Canadian Karting Champion is looking to improve that. Can-Am Karting Challenge title winner Derek Wang is in his first season in the DD2 Masters category, having been a Team USA member in DD2 previously. Veteran Mike Jones is also making a second straight trip to the Grand Finals, coming off a runner-up to Rudolph at the US championship. Scott Falcone is making his first Grand Finals appearance, thanks to the runner-up finish in the Masters Max category at the US Grand Nationals, putting four of the five Team USA members in the field. Nearly half the drivers are from outside North America, with veteran Rotax driver Christophe Adams (Belgium) among the list.

Senior Max rookie Oliver Askew is looking to carry Team USA strong this weekend and at the Grand Finals (Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.us)

Senior Max rookie Oliver Askew is looking to carry Team USA strong this weekend and at the Grand Finals (Photo: Ken Johnson – Studio52.us)

Just six drivers in the 27-kart Senior Max field have a ticket to next month’s Grand Finals, making this class one to watch with only one lucky pilot awarded with a spot to compete for the world championship. Just four international drivers fill out those vying for that ticket, with eyes on Jordon Lennox-Lamb. The UK driver is an accomplished KF and KZ driver, and current CRG factory driver. The majority are American drivers, with a long list with hopes of a Team USA bid. eKartingNews.com TaG #1 driver Louie Pagano is among the contenders, looking for a second straight trip to the Grand Finals. Jack Weprin has two wins from last weekend’s event, in the wet and the dry, and has placed himself at the top of the list. Andrew Palmer is hoping to return to Team USA for a second time as well. All eyes will be on last year’s Grand Finals champion Charlie Eastwood. The Irish pilot won in Portugal, and has been winning since, claiming the Florida Winter Tour title this past winter. Team USA members Nick Neri, Oliver Askew, Sam Beasley and Phillip Arscott will be competing as well, priming for what they hope are podium finishes next month.

The Junior Max field is the largest of the event at 36 drivers. As is the case with the other categories, the majority are from North America with less than 10 from across the globe. Twelve of those entered are locked in for the Grand Finals, including eight North Americans. The top two from the US Grand Nationals – Juan Manuel Correa and Ashley Rogero – are part of Team USA for the second straight year. Teammates Blaine Rocha and Luke Selliken earned their ticket to the Grand Finals from the Challenge of the Americas and Can-Am Karting Challenge. Jamaican Thomas Issa earned his second straight trip through the Florida Winter Tour championship, with three Team Canada drivers competing on the weekend – national champion Gianfranco Mazzaferro, Coltin McCaughan, and Jeff Kingsley.

Blaine Rocha will use the Pan-Am event to learn the ins and outs of an international event, making his first appearance with Team USA this year (Photo: seanbuur.com)

Blaine Rocha will use the Pan-Am event to learn the ins and outs of an international event, making his first appearance with Team USA this year (Photo: seanbuur.com)

Nearly half the field this weekend in the Mini Max category have already earned a spot at the Invitational next month during the Rotax Grand Finals event. Many are the top drivers from the United States, Canada and Mexico. All are looking to gain any type of advantage they can, while earning some added hardware for the trophy mantel. All three podium finishers from the US Grand Nationals are on hand – Michael d’Orlando, Enzo Fittipaldi Da Cruz, and Michael Benyahia along with Mexican Grand Nationals champ Manuel Sulaiman, who will test his skill level against the other top North American Mini Max pilots. The rest of the field is drivers looking to make one of the three podium spots and secure a ticket. David Malukas is among the top drivers not yet invited to the big stage, and is coming off a win last weekend in NOLA against similar competition.

Micro Max is similar with over 30 in the class, many of which have won at the international, national and regional level to earn at ticket to the Invitational. US champion Dylan Tavella, along with podium finishes Nicholas d’Orlando and Maxwell Waithman – will be joined by other North Americans looking to secure a spot at the Rotax Grand Finals.

A solid prize package was put in place for the Masters Max field just weeks before the event. MAXSpeed will offer up a Rotax Grand Finals VIP experience to the winner of this weekend’s event, including two flights, two VIP passes, hotel and rental car amenities included.

eKartingNews.com will be providing trackside coverage throughout the weekend, complete with daily report, top-10 results from each session posted on the Official Discussion Thread in the forums, Paddock Pass notes each day, updates coming on Facebook and Twitter, and candid photos through Instagram. Live video over Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be provided as well, with access available at GoRotax.com.

DD2 Entry List
[table]
No.,Driver,Country,Chassis
400,Xen De Ruwe,BEL,CRG
401,Kevin Barbesino,USA,CRG
403,Michael Ilavia,USA,Sodi
404,CJ Cramm,USA,CRG
411,Fritz Leesmann,USA,
412,Fred Woodley,CAN,Maranello
416,Nathan Mauel,USA,CRG
418,Pier Luc Ouellette,CAN,CRG
419,Andreas Backman,SWE,Tony Kart
420,Rony Censore Pironi,USA,CRG
423,Alessandro Bizzotto,CAN,CRG
425,Gustavo Ortega,CRC,Tony Kart
427,Mario Iemma,USA,Kosmic
430,Sean Owens,USA,Sodi Kart
437,Daniel Formal,USA,Kosmic
439,Cristiano Morgado,RSA,
443,Kevin Ludi,SUI,CRG
444,Antoine Lepesqueux,FRA,Sodi Kart
451,Ferenc Kancsar,HUN,CRG
469,Joey Wimsett,USA,CRG
480,Fidencio Guzman,MEX,CRG
482,Gavin Reichelt,USA,CRG
491,Brendon Bain,CAN,Maranello
[/table]

DD2 Masters Entry List
[table]
No.,Driver,Country,Chassis
500,Jefferson Arair Muccio,BRA,Praga
501,Mauricio Carrillo,MEX,CRG
504,Mike Jones,USA,Sodi Kart
505,Christophe Adams,BEL,Birel
507,Camilo Robayo,COL,Praga
509,Camilo Matiz,COL,Praga
511,Fernando Guzzi,BRA,Praga
513,Brent Harper,USA,Kosmic
517,Andres Fonseca,CRC,CRG
520,Roberto Pasqualini,BRA,Praga
521,Francis Mondou,CAN,Praga
548,Juan Jaime Hernandez Macal,NED,CRG
555,Johannes Rodriguez,USA,Kosmic
556,Jim Carey,USA,Zanardi
561,Salvador Bortoni,MEX,CRG
567,Robbie Poupart,USA,CRG
571,Dj Ortiz,USA,Tony Kart
573,Igor Mukhin,CRC,Praga
577,Alan Rudolph,USA,CRG
588,Derek Wang,USA,Praga
597,Stuart Clark,CAN,Praga
598,Enrico Friso,VEN,Praga
599,Scott Falcone ,USA,
[/table]

Senior Max Entry List
[table]
No.,Driver,Country,Chassis
300,Nick Neri,USA,Tony Kart
301,Charlie Eastwood,IRL,
304,Sam Beasley,USA,Tony Kart
311,Roger Ralston Jr,USA,FA Kart
312,Felipe Vargas,USA,Tony Kart
313,Jules Cousin,FRA,Sodi Kart
315,Louie Pagano,USA,
316,Morgan Healey,USA,Tony Kart
317,Jack Weprin,USA,FA Kart
318,Dustin Stross,USA,Tony Kart
320,Conner Clay,USA,Sodi Kart
321,Andrew Palmer,USA,Kosmic
323,Will Owen,USA,FA Kart
326,Jessica Backman,SWE,Tony Kart
327,Edie Rodriguez,USA,Tony Kart
330,Zacharie Scalzo,CAN,Tony Kart
338,Oliver Askew,USA,Tony Kart
339,Nicolas Carbon Martinez,ARG,AM
344,Alfredo Zabalza,MEX,Kosmic
345,Johnny Flute,CAN,Kosmic
353,Adam Dowler,USA,
357,Phillip Arscott,USA,Sodi Kart
359,Jordon Lennox,ITA,CRG
361,Dan Roeper,USA,Tony Kart
377,Nathan Kelly,CAN,CRG
386,Philip Morin,SWE,FA Kart
398,Quentin De Boever,USA,Tony Kart
[/table]

Junior Max Entry List
[table]
No.,Driver,Country,Chassis
200,Trenton Estep,USA,Tony Kart
201,Christian Munoz,USA,Tony Kart
202,Coltin McCaughan,CAN,OTK
203,Luke Selliken,USA,Energy
207,Michael Mc Carthy,USA,Birel
209,Blaine Rocha,USA,Energy
210,Austin Osborne,USA,Tony Kart
211,Thomas Preining,AUT,CRG
212,Mitch Mark Iv,USA,CRG
213,Anthony Tolfa ,CAN,Tony Kart
214,Gianfranco Mazzaferro,CAN,Tony Kart
216,Jeff Kingsley,CAN,Tony Kart
218,Ben Auriemma,USA,Tony Kart
220,Ruben Grillet,USA,Tony Kart
221,Rinus Van Kalmthout,NED,Energy
222,Philip Hamprecht,GER,Kosmic
225,Christian Brooks,USA,Tony Kart
228,Kyle Kirkwood,USA,Tony Kart
231,Ignacio Agustin Salvucci,ARG,AM
232,David Ilavia,USA,Sodi Kart
233,Guan Yu Zhou,USA,Tony Kart
234,Jai Nijjar,GBR,Tony Kart
238,Ashley Rogero,USA,Tony Kart
243,Pedro Cardoso,USA,CRG
244,Juri Vips,EST,Energy
248,Mitch Goldfarb,USA,AM
257,Theo Chick,USA,Kosmic
261,Christophe Paquet,CAN,CRG
266,Ferdinand Habsburg,AU,
268,Javier Gonzalez,USA,Tony Kart
277,Austin Versteeg,USA,Kosmic
281,Haley Brown,USA,Kosmic
286,Juan Manuel Correa,USA,Energy
292,Austin Garrison,USA,Tony Kart
294,Thomas Issa,JAM,Energy
297,Adam Martin,CAN,Maranello
[/table]

Mini Max Entry List
[table]
No.,Driver,Country,Chassis
100,Michael Benyahia,USA,Tecno
105,Sergio Terife,VEN,AM
106,Griffin Dowler,CAN,Tony Kart
108,Santiago Terife,VEN,AM
111,Sean Groenstein,USA,Tony Kart
120,David Antabi,USA,Kosmic
122,Manuel Sulaiman,MEX,AM
123,Jose Alvarado,USA,Kosmic
129,Pierce Dawlett,USA,CRG
131,Sting Ray Robb,USA,Tony Kart
132,Trenton Sparks,USA,FA Kart
135,Jacob Hudson,CAN,Energy
139,Justin Sirgany,USA,Tony Kart
140,Jack William Miller,USA,Birel
147,Roman Deangelis,CAN,Tony Kart
148,Devin Boutot,USA,AM
150,Joseph Lamberth,USA,Birel
151,Mathias Ramirez,USA,Tony Kart
153,Riley Dickinson,USA,Tony Kart
155,Aidan Keel,USA,Birel
156,Horatio Fitz Simon,USA,Sodi Kart
157,Michael D Orlando,USA,Tony Kart
162,Braden Brown,USA,Tony Kart
172,Enzo Fittipaldi Da C,USA,Kosmic
174,Nick Brueckner,USA,Birel
179,David Malukas,USA,Birel
180,Alejandro Jaramillo,USA,Sodi Kart
182,Jacobo Galeano Camacho,COL,Tony Kart
188,Krex Frederick,USA,Kosmic
189,David Rafailov,USA,CRG
190,Joseph Sebastia Galeano Camargo,,Tony Kart
194,Sebastian Alvarez Arce,MEX,CRG
199,Parker Chase,USA,CRG
[/table]

Micro Max Entry List
[table]
No.,Driver,Country,Chassis
0,Allessandro Formularo,,
7,Danica Humphreys,USA,CRG
8,Hannah Greenemeier,USA,Arrow
9,Patrick Woods Toth,USA,CRG
10,Filip Niemkiewicz,USA,AM
11,Alessandro Famularo,,
14,Josh Pierson,USA,Tony Kart
15,Nicholas D Orlando,USA,Tony Kart
18,Mathew Latifi,CAN,Tony Kart
20,Emiliano Richards,MEX,CRG
21,Marcelo Garcia,USA,FA Kart
22,Anthony Famularo,USA,
27,Joshua Cunha,CAN,OK1
29,Daniel Steven Chaverra Palaci,COL,Tony Kart
32,Justin White,USA,Birel
37,Darcy Tallon,CAN,Birel
39,Xavier Harris,CAN,OK1
41,Dylan Tavella,USA,Tony Kart
45,Dillon Defonce,USA,FA Kart
49,Ethan Arndt,USA,Tony Kart
51,Jordan Novota,CAN,Birel
54,Sebastian Rodriguez,COL,Tony Kart
55,Marco Kacic,CAN,CRG
56,Diego Laroque,USA,Birel
57,Tyler Gonzalez,USA,AM
71,Cole Killian,USA,CRG
74,Aidan Harrington,USA,Birel
78,Harry Coulton,USA,Birel
81,Payton Durrant,USA,Birel
91,Gianpaolo Barbieri,USA,Kosmic
92,Maxwell Waithman,USA,Kosmic
99,Arturo Alcalde,VEN,AM
[/table]

Masters Max Entry List
[table]
No.,Driver,Country,Chassis
601,Joseph Antavi,USA,
606,Chris Bogart,USA,Tony Kart
616,Todd Meyer,USA,CRG
623,Michael Auriemma,USA,Tony Kart
630,Raul Costa,USA,Tony Kart
631,Orlando Munoz,VEN,AM
649,Justin Peck,VEN,Tony Kart
670,Al Vinjamur,USA,Tony Kart
677,Armando Watson,PER,Sodi Kart
[/table]

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