GoRotax.com Driver of the Month Presented by eKartingNews.com – November 2013 – Juan Manuel Correa
Florida driver becomes first Rotax world champion from the United States
Correa drove to victory at the Rotax Grand Finals in the Junior Max division (Photo: Ken Johnson - studio52.us)
Thanks to the partnership between MAXSpeed Group and eKartingNews.com, a monthly program has been devised to promote outstanding drivers in the Rotax Max Challenge. The new program – GoRotax.com Driver of the Month presented by eKartingNews.com – is based off a similar program the leading karting website offers each month, focused on the United States ‘Rotaxians’. Each month, the staff at MAXSpeed and EKN will determine one driver to profile who promotes Rotax and karting in general in a positive fashion, along with standing out on-track. Each driver’s accomplishments will be highlighted, in addition to getting to know the Driver of the Month.
Karting’s roots begin in Southern California back in 1956 with Rotax celebrating its 30th year manufacturing karting products. Over the years, American’s have been innovative and successful within the sport. However, only one driver from the United States claimed a world championship in the sport – LakeSpeed. The Mississippi native, who went on to race in NASCAR, won the event in Le Mans, France and has been the only American to claim a world championship. That was until last month at the NOLAMotorsportsPark in New Orleans as Juan Manuel Correa became the first American to win at the Rotax Grand Finals, becoming a Rotax world champion.
Correa came into the November 10-16 event as the United States Rotax Grand Nationals champion, earning the crown at the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina back in August. The win gave the Ecuador-born driver his second straight spot on Team USA to compete at the Rotax Grand Finals. Last year, Correa was one of two Americans to qualify for the main event, placing 22nd after fighting inside the top-15. Throughout the week in Portugal, the young Grand Finals rookie showed great composure and was never ‘star-struck’ by the prestige of attending the ‘Olympics of Karting’.
The Miami resident carried that with him throughout the 2013 season, including the week at NOLA. With the 2013 Rotax Grand Finals set for the first time on American soil, confidence and expectations were high that at least one driver from Team USA would contend for a world championship. That was the case in all four divisions, with a handful of drivers in contention for the top spot throughout the week and for the podium on Championship Saturday. Throughout practice, Correa was within the top-10, but never the quickest. He and mechanic Yuri Carvalho kept working with the spec Energy kart and the given Rotax engine to see what worked and what didn’t. After qualifying, JMC was classified 15th overall to start from row four in Group C.
Correa advanced forward in the opening heat race, moving up to fourth as the top Team USA driver in the race. The second qualifying race saw JMC get pushed back to 16th after the opening lap, but he managed to fight his way back to 10th. The final race, rained came through the New Orleans area and thankfully, Correa and mechanic Carvalho were able to get their tires and move onto the grid in time for the race with many others unable to. He drove to a third place finish in the wet, moving him to fifth in the heat race classification and P5 for the prefinal.
The 11-lap race was a battle from start to finish, as one mistake would cost a driver at least two or three positions with all the quick drivers running up front. Correa ran as high as third, and low as seventh before he ended up sixth and starting outside row three for the main event.
Able to escape the calamity that was the opening two corners, Correa escaped with the second position. Dropping back to third on lap five, he and the new second place driver found themselves trailing the leader by 2.6 seconds. He would show the maturity well beyond his age, sitting in the third position and working with the second place driver to close in on the leader. Lap after lap, the gap would continue to shrink and the leader caved in under the pressure. Correa continued to play the role of ‘wingman’, pushing the second place driver each lap until they reached the leader with one circuit remaining.
The final lap was an exciting end, and can only be summed up with a video
Correa would cross the line two tenths ahead to become the first American to win at the Rotax Grand Finals, and only the second to earn a world karting championship.
EKN’s Rob Howden was able to speak with Juan Manuel Correa prior to the podium ceremonies.
GoRotax.com Driver of the Month Presented by eKartingNews.com
November 2013 – Juan Manuel Correa
Born: Quito, Ecuador
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Parents: Juan Carlos Correa, Maria Borja
Siblings: Ana, Jose Antonio
Height/Weight: 5’5” / 120 lbs
Education: Palmer Trinity School
Chassis: Tony Kart/Praga
Engine Service Center: VMotorsports
Sponsors: Palmer Trinity School
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: South Florida RMC
Years Karting: 6
How did you get started in karting? I went to watch a race for the first time, and I liked it a lot, and tried a kart. Then, I started practicing, and eventually started racing.
What has been the high point in your racing career? Winning Rotax Grand Nationals this past August, and the Rotax Grand Finals to become the first American to do so
What are your goals in racing? My goal is to race in a professional category such as IndyCar or F1
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? A mixture between aggressive, but at the same time very smooth.
2012 Accomplishments: 3rd – FWT TaG Junior championship, 4th – U.S. Rotax Grand Nationals, 2nd – Pan-Am Challenge, and being a Team USA Member.
Favorite Track: PFI (England)
Favorite form of professional motorsports: Formula One and IndyCar
Favorite karting driver: Alessandro Manneti
Favorite professional driver: Kimi Raikkonen.
Favorite website: YouTube
Favorite movie: 21 Jumpstreet
Favorite actor/actress: Jonah Hill
Favorite music/group: Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Flux Pavillion
Favorite vacation/activity spot: I love Beaches and Cruises.
Favorite food: Sushi
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? When I’m not racing, I do homework, exercise, and play airsoft.
What are your goals outside of karting? My goals are to be fit, be a good student and love my family.
What type of street car would you like to drive? I would like to drive any type of sport car such as an BMW m4, or a Mercedes G63.
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? I get very angry when I get too much homework, when my siblings bother me, and most of all when people block on track for no reason!
What is your favorite aspect about racing in the Rotax Max Challenge program? My favorite aspect of racing in the Rotax Max Challenge program is that it is a very competitive and even series, where everyone has a very similar package, and the results are based on the driver not on one’s equipment.