ART Grand Prix America Closes Out Challenge of the America’s on the Podium
Following the two opening rounds of the Rotax Challenge of the America’s championship taking place in Arizona, the final event went to California’s wine country and Sonoma Raceway. One of the top karting tracks in the country, five ART Grand Prix drivers would look to finish the series on a strong note. Rain would plague running all day Friday with damp conditions before the sun would come out for two dry race days.
After a strong Phoenix round, Andrew Wiener looked to continue his form in Rotax Senior. Having never run the track before Friday, he would be met with an uphill challenge with no dry running heading into Saturday’s qualifying session. A broken chain early in the session would only make matters worse as the pre-final would be his first real running. The 18 year old from San Diego, CA would move up from 14th to 11th in the pre-final and then a 10th place result in the final. The team would work hard overnight to help close the gap. Sunday would start better as Andrew qualified 12th, but was much closer to the leaders. Wiener would put in a fantastic drive in the pre-final moving up to 7th even with a mechanical issue that was causing him to lose lots of power. Unfortunately, in the final Andrew would be spun out in the opening corner dropping him to the tail of the field resulting in another poor result.
Steve Wiener would compete in Rotax Masters and be in the same position as Andrew with almost no track time heading into qualifying. The masters veteran worked to improve each and every session throughout the weekend and was without a doubt the most competitive he had been all season. After an 11th place finish on Saturday, Steve would have to deal with a set of tires that were much harder on Sunday. Forced to run on them the rest of the day, Wiener would still work to improve his pace and managed to run his fastest laps during each subsequent session finishing the season with another top 10 finish in 9th.
Three drivers would be representing the ART Grand Prix brand in Rotax Junior. Phillippe Denes entered the race third in the championship and still with a chance to win the title. The local driver entered the race very confident with the circuit being his home track, but would qualify a disappointing 9th on Saturday. An incident on the opening lap of the pre-final would drop him to the tail of the 34 kart field, but the second year driver would battle back to 13th and set the fastest lap along the way. More bad luck would strike in the final as Denes was involved in multiple incidents leaving him to finish 19th while again running times comparable to the leaders. This would unfortunately take him out of the championship fight, but he would come back Sunday looking to secure his first victory. A mechanical DNF in qualifying would leave Denes to start 34th and last in the pre-final where he would have a remarkable drive to move up to 7th with fast lap by over 4 tenths in the race. It was one of the best races in the young racer’s career and he would carry the momentum in the final moving to the lead by lap 9. He would be in a fierce battle and would ultimately come across the line 3rd which would have been his third podium of the season. Unfortunately, he suffered a technical disqualification for a non-performance part which put a black cloud on what should have been a beautiful comeback drive.
Carter Herrera would be making his Challenge of the America’s debut and would look to take advantage of his home track knowledge. After qualifying 21st on Saturday Herrera would drive through the field up to 11th in the pre-final before a driving infraction was issued forcing him to start the final in 20th. A rough start would knock the young driver back to 26th, but he would continue pushing to climb back up to 18th position by the end of the race. Unfortunately, the tough racing luck would continue into Sunday when Herrera had the pace to run in the top 10, but incidents plagued both his pre-final and final ultimately ending his race early. The results weren’t indicative of Herrera’s speed and potential and he will look to get back into a strong rhythm and compete for the Redline Karting championship.
Enzo Prevost would also be making his Challenge of the America’s debut following a brilliant victory the weekend before at the Redline Karting event. Another Sonoma local, Prevost started the weekend strong with a 6th place qualifying effort. He would run in the front pack the rest of the day securing an 8th place in the pre-final and rebounding to get back to 6th in the final gaining valuable experience for what would be a very exciting Sunday. After a disappointing 12th place result in Sunday’s qualifying session, the 15 year old Northern Californian would drive past some of the toughest junior competition all the way up to 3rd in the pre-final. The final would start off with Prevost getting pushed back to 6th in the first couple laps, but the COA rookie would show veteran poise and start moving back through the field and eventually get back up to 2nd. Right on the rear bumper of the leader, Prevost made sure to not make a move that would jeopardize the other driver as he was in championship contention and never quite had the opportunity to pass for the lead. A 2nd place finish and the speed to win in his first national event on the ART Grand Prix chassis, Prevost definitely turned a lot of heads and he will be a driver to watch the rest of the season.
ART Grand Prix drivers showed continued improvement throughout the season with a driver scoring a podium in half of the rounds in Rotax Junior and the only non OTK kart to finish on the podium in the largest category of the series. The brand has proven that it can compete with any other and with additional podiums in Rotax Senior ART Grand Prix is definitively one of the quickest and easiest to tune chassis in all of karting in any class and tire combination. For more information on ART Grand Prix America including: Arrive and Drive opportunities, inquiring to become an ART Grand Prix dealer, or locating a dealer in your area visit www.artgpamerica.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to keep up with the team on Facebook: ART Grand Prix America and Twitter: @artgpamerica.