Red Line Oil Karting Championship Race Six Report
Marcos Ramirez takes the win in the GoPro feature race. NORCAL 80cc Shifters make RLOKC debut
The weather was spectacular and so was the racing for Round #6 of the RLOKC. After a great round of competition there are now only three races left in the series at the Simraceway circuit in Sonoma, CA. And with every point being extremely valuable we were in for quite a show as almost all the top contenders came out to race hard. This round was contested on the very technical Sprint track configuration which features the infamous last turn, a tight hairpin that leads right out to the start/finish making for some really exciting late race moves. There also can be some heartbreak and some tough calls in this corner but there was none of that this weekend as every race was fiercely competitive but raced fairly by all the participants.
GoPro featured Class: Zero Motorsports EVO Electric karts
We had saved the best race for last but it wasn’t the largest group on the day. The finish however was one of the best we had ever witnessed at Simraceway. The same four EVO karts came back from the last round but this time there was a little something extra besides pride on the line. This round we featured the EVO class as the GoPro feature and as usual the winner was going to receive the latest edition GoPro Hero 3 Black edition camera for his efforts. The qualifying results there was real surprise, Richard Hilleman took the pole with a blistering 50.822 which was .3 better than the 2nd place qualifier Matt Cresci. Hilleman cruised to a nice victory in the first heat but out of nowhere Cresci came back to win the second heat. That set up what we thought would have been a great battle between these two in the main. Unfortunately Richard Hilleman dropped out early in the main giving the lead up to Cresci and just when we expected Cresci to ride off in the sunset with the GoPro in hand here came Marcos Ramirez. Ramirez made a late race hard pass on Cresci, never gave the lead back and went on to take the feature win over Matt Cresci as well as take home the GoPro Hero Camera.
We didn’t have the title favorite, Austin Elliott, in the field for this weekend but that just opened the door for one of these other young guns to get some traction in the championship points race. In the timed qualification round we saw Zach Pettinicchi snatch the pole position with a fast lap of 51.052. Just a couple tenths back from that with a share of the front row was Jaden Conwright. Another couple more tenths back was former class champ Carlos Calderon qualifying in the third spot. Calderon would keep it close in the heats turning in a pair of seconds but would eventually fall back in the main. In the first heat Jaden Conwright got out to a huge lead and after Pettinicchi dropped out with a broken chain. Conwright stretched the lead to over one full second and was looking very strong. Pettinicchi came back with a vengeance and won the second heat setting up another great main but his DNF in the first heat would hurt his chances at a good starting spot in the main. During the heats there was a dark horse emerging and it was looking like it was going to be #4 Pablo Carballedo. In the main Conwright took the lead and never looked back but it was Pablo Carballedo that really stepped up showed he was serious contender on the day. Pablo challenged Conwright a couple of times and then held off a charging Pettinicchi to take 2nd place. Zach Pettinicchi would have to settle for a 3rd place and then finishing behind him was Carlos Calderon. Calderon fell back to fourth after an incident but he was able to lay down the fast lap of the race on lap fourteen with a 51.531.
After a hot start to the season the Masters group has been narrowing down to the championship contenders. There was a hard fought battle throughout the day as everyone was trying to gain some ground on the defending class champ Scott Ripslinger. John Breidinger had a good start on the day, qualifying just a couple tenths off Ripslinger for a share of the front row. Scott Ripslinger won both heat races but it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. Kelly Heil had run second all day and was keeping it close until a crash early in the main took out his, as well as former class champ David Carlisle chances at the overall win. That just left one man to contend with Ripslinger and that was the #9 of John Breidinger. It would come down to a hard late race pass that would end with John and Scott both spinning off the track and after the dust settled it was John having to take a 2nd place finish after a one position penalty was handed down at the scales. It was another great win for Scott and the perfect sweep on the day.
Pro Stock Honda
There was some great speed throughout the day in this group of Pros. In true mid season form for these pros we saw an awesomely driven race but not much actual racing in the pro division. Alex Keyes laid down the fastest lap of any driver in the entire event and grabbed the pole with a 48.534. But Daniel De La Calle had a time that was only .023 off of Keyes so the match between these two young talents was all set. It turned out that whoever was able to take the lead on the start was the one who would win but it wasn’t always that close. De la Calle ran a strong first heat after Keyes stumbled off the line and then Keyes answered back with a 1.8 second win over De La Calle in the second heat. In the main it was all De la Calle as he ran away and won the race by almost 2 full seconds over Keyes, De la Calle also had the fast lap of the race. Cabot Bingham held down 3rd place all day long holding off a couple challengers. Cory Milne took the 4th spot with Hunter Pickett rounding out the top five.
Right on cue this group gave us some intense battles and heartbreaks with some really hard luck situations. After each race we all walk away from these Mini Max battles in awe of what these kids can do with a go kart. The battles this day would be for the runner up spot as Matteo Sandoval cruised to a perfect day sweeping all the sessions and laying down the fast lap in the main as the kicker. Not often do we see such a dominant performance in this group or any other group for that matter. The race on the day was for 2nd place and in the end it was Dustin Salaverria coming through with some of the best passes of anyone on the day. Collin Mullan ran a solid race but had to settle for 3rd after holding down 2nd for most of the main. Clayton Williams showed his consistent speed and could have been a contender but had to settle for 4th after a first lap incident sent him back in the pack.
As has been the case for past couple of years the Junior Rotax class put on one the best races of the season. These are the young ‘stars of tomorrow’ and as always it came down to the last lap before the podium spots were decided. That hotly contested battle was only for 2nd place because Michael Michoff was completely dominant and put down an unprecedented third perfect sweep on the day. Michael was coming fresh off his top ten run at the Rotax Nationals as well as his stranglehold on the points chase over the past several months. Second place qualifier Enzo Prevost, was running really strong but got caught in the middle of a family affair as the Breidinger sisters ended up challenging for a 2-3 finish. Annie Breidinger had been challenging Enzo for that 2nd spot all day. Then what seemed like out of nowhere, Toni Breidinger started laying down fast lap after fast lap and eventually catching the lead pack. Toni then preceded to put down a couple of great passes right at the end of the race on Enzo and then on Annie. That moved Annie back to 4th and a little further back from that Mason Cohen ran a nice solid race rounding out the top 5.
Stock Honda Masters
In the previous round of the series Dave Arnstein had to settle for 3rd place but he has been mixing it up for a win in just about every single race this year. Dave also was sitting just ten points back in the overall championship and with points leader Jim inglebright sitting this one out it was a perfect opportunity for someone to take the series points lead. Arnstein started out the day very dominant with a pole position in the timed qualify, and almost breaking the 50 second barrier, with a 50.076. In the first heat it was a four kart battle with Rene Martinelli just squeaking out the win over Arnstein with Jim Kidd quietly keeping it close in 3rd. Perennial front runner Nick Major dropped out of the first heat which would hurt his starting spot in the main but showed good speed throughout the rest of the afternoon. Arnstein would reinsert himself as the favorite by winning the second heat race and that set up a Arnstein/Martinelli front row for the showdown in the main event. Both drivers failed to take advantage of their starting positions off the start of the main and it was Jim Kidd with a remarkable hole shot to take the lead. Kidd then held on for almost the entire race holding Martinelli at bay but late in the race Rene Martinelli seized the lead in a great late race move on the back straightaway. That put Kidd back to 2nd and after a great drive Nick Major would bring it all the way back to 3rd after that first heat DNF. Dave Arnstein had to settle for 4th after a hard fought race.
Junior Stock Honda
We had two competitors show up for this group but it true RLOKC fashion it came down to the end for the win. Callum Smith had run a near perfect day but when he missed a shift towards the end of the race that allowed Blake Milton to seize the lead in the final laps. Blake would go onto to take home a narrow victory over Callum Smith.
In the previous round of the series it was Grant Langon who took the win over Garrette Randolph Jr and Gino Sandoval. This time looked like it would be more of the same after Grant snatched up the pole position with a blistering 57.511 which was a good .3 over Randolph Jr. In the heats these two went back and forth and it turned out that it wasn’t clear who was the favorite going into the main. Randolph Jr ran the entire race glued to the bumper of Langon and then stepped up very late in the main. He was able to take the lead away from Langon and hold on for the win. Gino Sandoval took another 3rd place finish and that made it back to back podiums for the young driver.
80cc Masters and Norcal 80cc Shifters
This RLOKC event had two 80cc divisions in one race group for this special event. In the group we had the 80cc Norcal series and the RLOKC 80cc Masters. No surprise in qualifying as the home track favorite Charles Hastings laid down a scorcher lap of 51.257, .6 clear of the next closest Adam Booker. Those two were in the Norcal 80cc division and that meant that 3rd place overall qualifier Ethan Wilson was in control of his own group, 80cc Masters. By the end of the day Adam Booker had mastered the technical ¾ mile sprint track layout and led flag to flag in the main event over Hastings. Jon Ban had a nice run to take 3rd place in the Norcal 80cc and 4th overall. The 3rd place overall and your winner in the 80cc Masters was karting veteran Ethan Wilson. Ethan led every single lap of the day in his group beating out Aaron Einstein and Dave Holstein who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in the 80cc Masters division.
The next Red Line Oil Karting Championship event will be September 7 where the track configuration will be the Reverse National. The GoPro featured class will be the Micro Max. For more information about the Red Line Oil Karting Championships, go to www.redlineoilkarting.com