Paddock Insider: 2013 Rotax Pan-American Challenge – Friday
A daily look into the action as it happens at the NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans
EKN’s Paddock Insider is a new Trackside coverage addition, bringing you notes, updates and breaking news as it happens. The article will be a timeline of events as they happen during the 2013 Rotax Pan-American Challenge. The information will not be seen anywhere else, including interviews and photos. Please feel free to comment and discuss our coverage and today’s action in the EKN Global Members Discussion area below:
Rain in the Bayou
Following qualifying, the rain clouds opened up with about 30 minutes of hard rain. This left the track soaked for the opening three heat races – Micro, Masters and Mini Max. The DD2 Masters heat race began with the track wet, and not dry enough for slick Mojo tires. By the end of the race, it was dry tires that proved to be best with Team USA driver Derek Wang taking the challenge. Falling back early, he would get quicker lap after lap as the track dried up. He would be the quickest driver on the course on the final lap, finishing 10th. The Senior Max drivers struggled with grip, as the track was still not completely dry.
North Americans Shine in Qualifying
Through the seven qualifying sessions for the classes competing on the weekend, North American drivers shine as they sweep the pole position. American’s score six of the top spots with Canadian Mathew Latifi (Micro) joining the USA top qualifiers, including Chris Bogart (Masters), KRex Frederick (Mini), Alan Rudolph (DD2 Masters), Nick Neri (Senior), Kyle Kirkwood (Junior) and Daniel Formal (DD2).
Breaking News: Micro Max driver Dylan Tavella removed from qualifying results for a carburetor infraction, and will start heat races from 31st.
Rotax Grand Finals Qualifying Tree
With the international status of the Pan-American event, those drivers who win in any of the Rotax Grand Finals could make it two drivers earning a ticket. With the Rotax Max Challenge ranking the Pan-American event, should a driver who wins here already have a ticket from their national program, they would give back that ticket to take the one they earn here. An example would be the following: United States Rotax Grand Nationals champion – Oliver Askew in Senior Max. Should he win here this weekend, he would give back the ticket he won in Mooresville, and thus the next finishing driver without a ticket would earn it.
The word on the course is curbs. With the 12-turn, 1.1-mile course, it’s a battle against the competition and how fast you can go across the curbs. There are four spots on the course that are ‘esses’ sections where the drivers are jumping the curbs, much like the Colorado circuit in Grand Junction Motor Speedway and Simraceway in Sonoma, California. Drivers are saying the track is fast, and still have passing zones to move up the order. As the event unfolds, we will find out how many passing zones there are.
Today begins the official first rounds of action for the 2013 Pan-American Challenge. What has become the biggest event to date, with 192 entries, seven categories fill out the roster with a mix of American, Canadian and international drivers. Nearly all categories are over the 20 mark, with Senior, Junior, Mini and Micro over 30. The NOLA facility is first class, with plenty of amenities and space to welcome large events such as this. Today will be filled with a warm-up, qualifying and opening heat race.