Number of Firsts for Opening Round of Los Angeles Karting Championship

Racing underway in 2014 for organization with opening round contested at CalSpeed Karting Center

LAKC kicked off its 2014 season with cool temps and large fields (Photo: LAKC.org)

LAKC kicked off its 2014 season with cool temps and large fields (Photo: LAKC.org)

The 2014 season began for the Los Angeles Karting Championship on February 9, hosting the opening round of their nine-race championship series. Over 200 entries gathered at the CalSpeedKartingCenter under less than perfect skies as crew and family members came to the grid to watch the races in hoodies and hats. Despite the cooler weather, LAKC racers enjoyed themselves and put on the high level of racing LAKC is accustomed to. Along with great entry numbers in all classes at round one, there was an excitement in the air as LAKC introduced four new classes to the club’s competition schedule. The opening weekend featured plenty of great racing, with new faces in new places kicking off what is going to be another great year of racing for the LAKC.

Los Angeles Karting Championship LAKC logoHuge fields turned out in the PRD classes with 18 drivers a piece in PRD 2 and PRD Senior, with 13 drivers in the PRD Senior Pilot class. Chance Skaufel scored the win in PRD Junior 2 presented by Mack Motorsports. Skaufel put on an impressive show through the first round of action after qualifying 10th. A daunting task ahead of him, Chance drove well in the heat race advancing up to fourth. Skaufel then got a terrific start at the drop of the green flag in the main, vaulting him to the lead by the completion of lap one. From there, it was clear sailing for Skaufel as he led every lap and drove to the victory. Jordan Turner drove from sixth on the grid to lay down the fastest lap of the main event, just inches away from Skaufel at the line. Anthony Sawyer finished a close third with top qualifier Gary Lyles and prefinal winner Dylan Cartier involved in a wreck on lap eight.

It was a solid day for Paul Bonilla as he ran near the front all weekend and scored the win in the D Power PRD Senior class. Bonilla would have to contend with a host of talented drivers. First it was Jordan Robertson picking up the pole in qualifying ahead of Bonilla and Matt Johnson. The heat race was a tight one as Robertson and Johnson danced at the front of the pack. Johnson put the moves on leader Robertson on the final lap and scored the heat race win. The main event saw three different drivers hold the point at separate times during the race. Johnson made good on his prefinal win as he led the opening three circuits before being challenged by Nathan Seegrist, who led four laps. The two battled over the next three circuits as Bonilla was working his way back up from the fifth position. Johnson would cross the line first with Bonilla trailing and Robertson third. In post race deliberations, Johnson was penalized four positions for contact made with Bonilla earlier in the race. That moved Bonilla to the top of the podium, bumping Robertson to second and put Robby Stanovich on the podium.

PRD Senior victory was awarded to Paul Bonilla (Photo: LAKC.org)

PRD Senior victory was awarded to Paul Bonilla (Photo: LAKC.org)

Luis Perez swept the opening round of MMK PRD Senior Pilot class this past weekend scoring a perfect three for three. After scoring the pole in qualifying Perez lost the lead to Michel Manning at the start of the prefinal. Perez would take the lead back at halfway and drive to the win. The main event was nearly a perfect replica of the heat race with Manning taking the lead for the first six laps. After racing with Jacob Pope for the second position, Perez got around Manning with nine laps remaining en route to the victory. Perez drove to a near one-second win over Manning and Pope.

Over the off-season, the LAKC strengthened their relationship with Superkarts! USA, adding the S1 Pro Stock Moto, S5 Junior Stock Moto and TaG Master divisions. A fourth category – Junior One Comer Pilot – was also brought onto the LAKC class roster to help develop the young talent that competes in the area every month.

Racing for the first time with the LAKC this past Saturday, Nash Motorsportz S5 drivers joined S4 and S4 Magnum racers for their on track sessions. In the class debut with the LAKC, it would be Nicky Hays scoring the first ever S5 win. Hays put on a dominant display all day Sunday as the youngster stayed up front the entire weekend. Hays began by edging Anthony Sawyer for the pole position by three tenths of a second. In the heat race, Hays checked out to a five-second win while Sawyer and Zach Arthur raced for the second spot with Arthur coming out on top. Hays led every lap in the main event pulling out to a five-second advantage after 16 laps. Sawyer reclaimed the second spot after Arthur struggled at the start with Arthur beating Hannah Grisham for third.

In the first weekend for the highly competitive 7th Gear S1 Pro Stock Moto category, Billy Musgrave made history as the first S1 winner of the LAKC. After torching his competition in S2 last year, Musgrave is expected to lead the way in the S1 ranks this year. Musgrave was joined in S1 category by series regulars Lloyd Mack and Matias Podboj, along with other talented drivers planning to compete in LAKC races this season. Podboj earned the first ever pole position in the newly appointed S1 class after he laid down a 45.462-second lap in qualifying. Podboj went backwards at the start of the heat race and fell several positions in the race group that included S2 and Open 125. Musgrave took over the S1 lead and took the win with Podboj recovering to be a close second. Musgrave ran at the point the entire main event, pulling out to a 10-second advantage over Podboj with Mack disqualified for rough driving and misconduct following contact with an Open driver.

Erik Jakcson doubled up in the win column, including S4 Master Stock Moto (Photo: LAKC.org)

Erik Jakcson doubled up in the win column, including S4 Master Stock Moto (Photo: LAKC.org)

Along with S1 and S5, the PSL So-Cal TaG Masters was added to the LAKC completing the club’s SKUSA class list. Erik Jackson swept the weekend as he went three for three, grabbing the pole, prefinal win and main event victory. Jackson drove a great main event that took him into the top-10 racing amongst the lighter and younger TaG Senior drivers. Behind Jackson in the finishing order was Guy Hepner and Roy Steele.

The fourth class added in 2014 was the Empire Karts Junior 1 Comer Pilot class, dominated by Cole Keith Cotham. The tone was set in qualifying as Cotham secured the pole position over Maxi Saga in qualifying before proceeding to beat Ryan McElwee by over 14 seconds in the prefinal. The theme continued into the main event where Cotham checked out to an astonishing 17-second victory. Coming home in second was Ethan Ho followed by Kasey Gillis, who drove from seventh on the grid to podium.

Erik Jackson added a second win on the day, as last year’s vice champion in the Musgrave Racing Company S4 Masters Stock Moto swept the opening round. After narrowly beating out Rob Logan by two hundredths of a second for the pole position, Jackson went on to lead every lap in the prefinal. Behind Jackson in the heat race was John Crow and Brad Dhesi. When the flag dropped on the main, Crow nailed the start and got around Jackson to lead the opening lap. By lap two, Jackson reclaimed the lead and stayed there for the remainder of the race as he drove to a 1.3-second win over Crow. Behind the leaders though was Musgrave making up lost ground from a DNF in the heat race. The defending champion improved his position every lap to reach the top-five. By lap 11, Musgrave was third on the board and held it to the checkered flag. Steve Donia nearly swept the weekend in S4 Magnum – presented by Acceleration Kart Racing – after he missed qualifying and proceeded to win the prefinal and final.  Top qualifier Sal Menudiado was second in the prefinal, but Gary Delcoure and Jeff Krogstad pushed him back to complete the podium in the S4 Magnum final.

TaG Senior winner Eric Molinatti (Photo: LAKC.org)

TaG Senior winner Eric Molinatti (Photo: LAKC.org)

S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto presented by 2Wild Karting took on a new complexion in 2014 with the departure of the several drivers to the S1 ranks, most notably last year’s champ Billy Musgrave. The day was swept easily by Kolton Griffin, as he and a host of S2 drivers began their bid for the class championship. After finishing in the fifth position in last year’s standings, Griffin is poised to make a run for the championship and Sunday proved that. The Arizona driver grabbed the pole position over Alejandro Fernandez by nearly a half second while Cameron Jocelyn, Taylor Monning and Cris Araujo filled out the top five. After leading every lap of the prefinal and scoring the overall win, Griffin continued the pace into the main event. The 16-lap feature was one of Griffin’s best, quickly pulling away from Gianfranco Casadei and Fernandez while pacing with the S1 pilots. When the checkered fell and the dust settled, Griffin scored the victory by nearly 12 seconds over Fernandez with Casadei third. Griffin was also credited with the fast lap of the entire race group.

The TM Racing USA Open 125 Shifter class has always been a popular category and the trend looks to continue in 2014. Making a special guest appearance in the category on the opening weekend was former IndyCar driver Phil Giebler. Defending Open 125 champion and class favorite Alex King had left the class to compete in the S2 field this season changing the complexion of the wildly competitive class. Giebler got things rolling in qualifying as he edged out Slava Prikhodko for the pole position. Giebler would hold the lead the length of the race in the prefinal, going wire-to-wire for the win with Prikhodko not far behind. For the first time all race day, Giebler was relegated out of the lead as Prikhodko launched strong off the grid and took the top spot from Giebler. Slava would hold the position for the entire distance, securing the first main event victory of the 2014 season. Giebler settled for second with Chris Curtis completing the Open 125 shifter class podium.

Nicky Hays made history as the first S5 Junior Stock Moto winner (Photo: LAKC.org)

Nicky Hays made history as the first S5 Junior Stock Moto winner (Photo: LAKC.org)

The front of the field was musical chairs throughout the day in the Fleming Racing Engines Junior 1 Comer class. First in qualifying was last year’s championship runner-up Joseph Daniele, beating out George Diakoumopoulos for the pole position. Daniele led the prefinal past the halfway point until Jagger Jones had worked his way up the order from fifth. The two raced and traded the lead over the next four laps, with Jones ultimately coming out with the win. Jones led the opening lap of the main event before he was challenged again by top qualifier Daniele, who led the next five laps. After finishing fifth in the prefinal, Ryan Schartau found more speed and was able to challenge for the lead by the seventh circuit. Jones, who fell back after contact early on, fought his way back toward the point and pushed back Schartau to retake the lead. Daniel Inzunza made his way forward doing the battle, and found himself among the leaders. On the final lap, the leaders were working around lap traffic when contact was made, including Daniele. Thankfully, everyone walked away however the checkered flag came out early and the race was scored by the previous lap. Inzunza and Jones were leading at that time with Daniele in third, making up the provisional top-three. Unfortunately, the top-two would be penalized for contact with each other earlier in the race, and Daniele was removed from the results for causing the incident. That promoted Schartau to the top step of the podium with Dakota Tate moved up to second. Jones was penalized two positions, which placed him third with Inzunza down to fifth in the final order.

The opening round was exciting in the FA Racing PRD Masters class as John Bush left with the class victory. Matt Magilke beat out Ron Rossetti for the pole position in qualifying with Mike Johnson and Bush in third and fourth. Paul Bonilla came from nowhere to take the lead in the prefinal as Magilke and Johnson slipped at the start. Bonilla went on to lead every lap of the heat as he drove to the win ahead Johnson and Bush. Bush made the most of his third place starting spot in the feature race as he took the lead on the opening circuit, going on to lead every lap to the victory. Brian Phillipsen drove up to second as Rossetti completed the podium.

Kid Kart Honda winner Copper Hicks in action at CalSpeed (Photo: LAKC.org)

Kid Kart Honda winner Copper Hicks in action at CalSpeed (Photo: LAKC.org)

One of the feel good stories of the weekend was seeing the return of Dakota Dickerson to the seat of a race kart after shattering his wrist and arm in an accident last September. Like a fish to water, Dakota went right back to work as he secured the pole position in the Buddy Rice Karting TaG Senior, posting a 47.271-second lap. Dakota led the opening circuit of the heat race before the 2013 PRD Senior champion Eric Molinatti took over the lead on lap two. Molinatti stayed at the point till the end with Dickerson finishing second. The main event belonged to Molinatti as he led all 16 circuits. Dickerson had a very successful return to racing with a solid second place finish with Tyler Coffman rounding out the TaG Senior podium.

Myles Farhan was added to the list of sweeps on the day, as he led the way in the RPM TaG Cadet class. Farhan kicked things off by grabbing the pole position ahead of double duty racer Joseph Daniele. Anthony Willis, Johnny Dressler and Ryan Schartau completed the top five in qualifying. The prefinal saw Willis jump up on the opening lap to take the lead from Farhan before relinquishing it on the second lap around. After regaining the lead, Farhan drove to a half-second win over Schartau, with Willis in third. Farhan was perfect in the main event, leading every lap while Schartau, Willis and the Jones brothers – Jagger and Jace – raced closely behind. In the end, Jagger Jones drove to a second place finish with Willis behind in third place. Daniele and Jace Jones completed the top-five.

In the Hyper Engines PRD Junior 1 class, lone entry Justin Hodge had a perfect weekend. Cooper Hicks made a strong showing in the season opener in the Pure Karting Honda Kid Kart class as he swept the day. Looking solid in qualifying, Hicks beat out Chance Gibson for the pole position. The two would run 1-2 again in both the prefinal and the main event as Hicks racked up the win in both races. Gibson recorded a solid second place finish while Camden Goetz, Ian Dodge and Austin Manka completed the top-five. HPD claimed the winning engine to help ensure the integrity of the program, with Hicks receiving a replacement this week.

The welcome back weekend of the LAKC went off without a hitch keeping with the theme of terrific racing that members of the series have come to expect and enjoy. With the opening weekend of 2014 in the books, the Los Angeles Karting Championship racers will prepare for their second round of competition coming up in a little over a month when they return to CalSpeedKartingCenter on March 16. For more about the Los Angeles Karting Championship, please visit LAKC.org and Like them on Facebook.

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