Paddock Insider: 2013 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals – Monday

Kart raffle and build-up begins event for 288 drivers from over 60 countries

288 karts ready for competition at NOLA Motorsports Park (Photo: BRP)

288 karts ready for competition at NOLA Motorsports Park (Photo: BRP)

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 Max Challenge Grand Finals. The information will not be seen anywhere else, including notes, interviews and photos. For complete coverage, visit the EKN Event PagePlease feel free to comment and discuss our coverage and today’s action in the EKN Global Members Discussion area below:

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Looking at the turn 8-9-10 section of the course (Photo: eKartingNews.com)

Looking at the turn 8-9-10 section of the course (Photo: eKartingNews.com)

Track Updated for Rotax Grand Finals
Following the Pan American Challenge event last month, after handing out the final tickets to this year’s Rotax Grand Finals, a track update was needed in order to allow each of the chassis the opportunity to survive the five-day schedule. In two sections of the track, there were aggressive chicanes with large curbs. Everyone who followed the event through the live broadcast or our EKN Trackside coverage saw the photos of karts getting all four wheels off the ground on the exits of these corners, slamming back down and grinding the bottoms of the frame rails after only three days of competition. Garett Potter of NOLA Motorsports Park and his crew went to work, grinding down portions of the curbs to eliminate the ‘jump factor’.

Talking with drivers throughout the Team USA paddock, they look at this track update as ‘taking away an advantage’ that they had after being able to attend the PanAm. Those who were able to navigate their karts over the curbs more quickly than others during the Pan-American weekend were at the front of the field. Now, those two sections will be much easier to drive through, taking away two crucial technical sections of what is already a very fast track.

Chassis Partners for 2013
CRG, Energy, Praga, and Sodi Kart are among the four chassis partners for the four 2013 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals.

The CRG Dark Rider is back with the DD2 category, as it is among the most popular chassis models in the world. Team USA driver Joey Wimsett, who is back for a second straight year in the category, thinks it makes it tougher going into the race moving back aboard the CRG. Last year, everyone was running the Mach 1 chassis and most, if not all, the drivers were unfamiliar with the brand. This put those who were able to adjust quickly to the front, which included Wimsett and others on Team USA.

Looking back at turns 16-17 before the final corner of NOLA Motorsports Park (Photo: eKartingNews.com)

Looking back at turns 16-17 before the final corner of NOLA Motorsports Park (Photo: eKartingNews.com)

Sodi Kart returns as the Senior Max chassis partner for the RMCGF, this time on the Sodi Sigma S2. Last year’s chassis was a 28mm frame, while  the drivers will pilot a 30mm rail here in 2013. Phillip Arscott was testing the 28mm model here a month ago, and could tell a big difference coming from the OTK brand. They worked all weekend to find the right set-up, but learned a lot in the process to take into this weekend. Andrew Palmer is forgetting all about last season, moving forward to this year. He traveled to Dallas Karting Complex to test the chassis, and was really happy with the selection. The other four drivers have no time on the chassis, so Tuesday will be the first time they will pilot a Sodi Kart.

Praga is one of the newer brands to hit the market in the karting industry, finding success early and often. Now providing the ‘Dragon’ chassis for the DD2 Masters class for the first time, many drivers will get their first opportunity to sample the brand. Texan Mike Jones, making his second Rotax Grand Finals start, is finding a lot of differences from what he’s used to. While the chassis is longer, he is still finding it very difficult to adjust to the front end geometry. Scott Falcone has the opposite view, as he likes how the chassis is softer than what he is used to, and he feel it has good brakes and has a lot of front end grip. Rene Martinelli and Corey Mitchell have yet to drive a Praga, but the other four have already been in the seat.

Energy Corse completes the chassis quartet,  providing the kart for the Junior Max drivers. The Energy ‘Kinetic’ has been sampled both by Rolison Performance Group drivers Blaine Rocha and Luke Selliken in early events. Both feel the chassis is much stiffer than the OTK brand they are used to running, as they spent their test time searching for rear grip. Seat placement, which is one of the biggest adjustments that can be made in all categories, will be key to a driver’s success and strategy to finding the right set-up.

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