Team News: Highs & Lows of Endurance Racing Experienced in Kartwerks Robopong Effort
The 10th Annual Robo-pong 200 at New Castle Motor Speedway featured the typical highs and lows associated with endurance racing for the Kartwerks Praga team. Indy Lights racer and Praga factory driver Matthew DiLeo along with Kartwerks pilot Andy Schlosser put in a solid effort with no on-track or pit mistakes on their way to what appeared to be a top ten finish before the toll and luck of a nearly four hour race came in to play.
The team hit the track running with their Praga Tacho chassis and Adkins Speed Center built X30 powerplant, running competitive times from the opening sessions. Mechanic Bob Williams and tuner Adam Kretschmer had to make some compromises though as they had to fit and tune to two drivers eight inches apart in height! By the end of the opening day everyone was happy with the fit and the team concentrated on putting together a kart that would be drivable for 50 lap stints and withstand the rigors of the long race.
Unfortunately, the focus on the race put the team further back on grid than expected following qualifications as Schlosser put the kart in 27th spot after being in the top half of the grid on the time sheets most of the day.
Raceday saw Matthew take the opening stint, picking up six spots on track before the first pit stop. The team opted for a quick stop with no tire change and sent Andy back in to the mix while barely losing a minute in the pits. Andy put in a solid run as well moving in to 18th before the next stop.
A four tire change took a few extra ticks of the clock but DiLeo quickly made good use of the fresh rubber, running his fastest laps of the day. The combination of the quick pace and a well prepared kart saw the Canadian move in to ninth place before the final driver change and pit stop. Unfortunately this stop required an unscheduled brake pad change. While the change went quickly it did cost the team several laps and dropped them to 16th.
Despite the setback the kart was still running flawlessly and Schlosser turned his fastest laps on the day nearly 175 laps in to the run. The fast laps along with the mechanical misfortunes of some other teams put the team in 11th with ten laps to go and the potential to still score a top ten finish! The endurance racing luck finally hit however as the radiator took a direct hit from a piece of debris and Andy had to nurse the kart home over the closing laps to a 12th place finish.
Dan Schlosser, Kartwerks: “This race is always the highlight of our season and this was our most fun and rewarding attempt to date. The guys worked so well together and each brought something to the table that helped to assemble what was a nearly bulletproof package. The brake issue was our sole miscue and I’ll take the blame for that as we installed them for the final rounds of practice and I miscalculated how far we could run them. Despite the setbacks this was still a fantastic effort and we’ll be back next year! In addition to Matthew, Andy, Bob & Adam I have to thank Jim Campeau & Eric Vukich for crewing and Michele Campeau & Krystle Carrara from Praga for spotting. To have so many people from the Kartwerks/Praga family come together for this event made it all the better!”
In addition to the Robo-pong 200, Kartwerks driver were in every race run throughout the weekend as Eric Vukich and Joe Budzinski ran their Praga Dragons in Yamaha Senior and Yamaha Junior Respectively. Eric’s raceday came up a little short as a mechanical DNF sidelined him just seven laps in to the Final. However Joe had a nice run finishing 12th in the prefinal and 13th in the final in a field of 25 karts.
Kartwerks was well represented in the Sportsman race with no less than seven drivers in the huge thirty-seven kart field rolling out on Praga Piccolo karts! Griffin Kunz had the strongest qualifying effort, pulling down the seventh place starting position in his first National level Sportsman race. Ben Varner put his experience to work crossing the line in the Pre-Final in tenth and then scoring a 13th in the Final with Griffin on his tail.
Luca Mars, Elliot Budzinski and Madison Campeau soldiered home in 22nd, 25th and 26th respectively while Ryan Detlor and Robert Noaker finished 30th and 32nd. While Madison has a handful of Sportsman races under her belt at this level, the other four were making their National debut in the class fresh out of the Rookie ranks.
Dan Schlosser, Kartwerks: “Our Sportsman drivers did a fantastic job all weekend. This was not only the first race at this level for most of these kids but the longest race they’ve ever run. All the families and drivers had a great experience and learned a lot from having Matthew and Adam under the tent this weekend as well. Both jumped in to help with set-up and driving questions and were just a fantastic influence on the whole program. We look forward to working with them more in the future hopefully.”
Kartwerks will be travelling to Mooresville Motorplex, Carolina Motorsports Park and various tracks in Florida for testing in the coming months. The team will also be competing in the opening round of the WKA Manufacturers Cup Series at Daytona in December and the Florida Winter Tour Formula Kart Weekends beginning in January.
The 2014 schedule for the Kartwerks team will be competing in each round of the WKA Manufacturers Cup and United States Pro Kart Series (USPKS) as well as Regional events and the Pitt Race Karting Series.
For more information about testing, travelling programs & race events with the Kartwerks team or the National & World Championship winning Praga karts please visit www.KartWerksUSA.com or contact Dan Schlosser at firstname.lastname@example.org / 412.849.5218.