EKN Exclusive: SKUSA SuperNationals XVIII – Preview Program – TaG Junior
Young guns ready to battle to decide seventh different category winner
eKartingNews.com is proud to present the official Preview Program for the SKUSA SuperNationals XVIII. As the Official Media Partner of Superkarts! USA, EKN will preview each of the nine categories that will compete outside the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino from November 19-23 in Las Vegas.
For complete coverage of the SKUSA SuperNationals XVIII, visit the EKN Event Page
The spirit and enthusiasm of youth will be seen in full effect at this year’s SuperNationals, once the TaG Junior group hits the track. All 66 drivers entered into this year’s event believe that they have the talent, speed, and skill to compete for victory on SuperSunday. This unparalleled confidence will surely provide for some exciting racing over the weekend, as the previous six editions have seen six different drivers cross the line in triumph. All six victors have one thing in common…none were from the United States. Since the addition of TaG Junior to the SuperNationals class line-up, America is disappointing 0-for-6 in the win column. A third of this year’s field comes in from outside the United States, which would give America the upper hand, but when in Vegas, the odds can be thrown out the window.
Three strong American drivers from last year’s top-10 are returning this year, all looking for their first TaG Junior SuperNats victory. In 2011, Logan Sargeant scored win in the TaG Cadet division. Last year, he was just one position away from earning his second SuperNationals crown, coming up just short. Sargeant (Tony Kart) has spent his racing season in Europe, competing in the KF Junior division, where the competition is incredible stiff. Just a few weeks ago, he placed second at the WSK Final Cup event, and he has the talent, confidence and speed to gun for victory when he returns to home soil. Former TaG Cadet Pro Tour champion Colton Herta has been making headway in his open wheel career, competing in the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy program (USF2000). The 14-year old will return to his roots next week, racing once again at the SuperNationals. Herta (FA Kart) finished fifth last year, and is set to contend once again with the Phil Giebler Racing operation.
The third American to watch is one of only two drivers from the United States who can claim the title of ‘world champion’. Juan Manuel Correa scored the Rotax Grand Finals victory last year in New Orleans to become the first American do earn a world Rotax championship. Correa backed up that performance the following next week with a sixth place result at the SuperNationals. The Florida driver spent all of 2014 in Europe, racing for the Energy Corse factory team, gaining strong results. This will be his first event back on US soil, coming off a fifth at the WSK Final Cup behind Sargeant.
Last year’s TaG Junior title chase on the SKUSA Pro Tour was a lesson for young drivers, one focused on never giving up. Yurik Carvalho (Italian Motors USA/Italkart) went into the SuperNationals fifth in points, 131 points out of the lead. Two runner-ups and a win in the three heat races provided a strong point totals, and when added to the poor results from his championship rivals, it put the Brazilian back in the hunt for the title going to SuperSunday. An amazing drive put Carvalho at the front and on the top step of the race podium, and the championship podium as well. With Carvalho having graduated to the Senior level, this year’s fight has three new drivers in contention for their first Pro Tour title.
Off the strength of two wins at the SummerNationals in Modesto, David Malukas advanced to the top of the championship standings and holds the edge entering the Pro Tour finale. The Top Kart USA pilot scored the most overall points over the four rounds, and holds a 70-point advantage over Christian Brooks when the drop race is factored in. Malukas scored the United States Pro Kart Series championship this summer, and finished 23rd in his first TaG Junior SuperNationals last year. Brooks (Nash Motorsportz/Tony Kart) won both feature races at the SpringNationals in Dallas, and was in contention at the SummerNats. Brooks has the task of competing in two categories over the week, in the same morning session, fighting for the S5 Junior Stock Moto championship as well. Endurance should not be an issue, as the Californian has been competing in both all season long. The focus will be on keeping the karts ready, and making sure they are both fast.
Texas driver Nick Brueckner could pull off the same feat as Carvalho did last year. Brueckner enters Las Vegas 155 points out of first place, and is riding some strong momentum. After three Pro Tour podiums this summer, he made the move to Orsolon Racing on a Tony Kart, and nearly pulled off a victory at the Rotax Pan American Challenge. The 13-year-old will need to have a perfect week while making his TaG Junior debut after finishing third in TaG Cadet a year ago. KartSport North America’s Neil Verhagen remains mathematically in the hunt as well. A podium in Modesto showed that the Arrow driver enjoys the temporary circuits, and he has a shot to land in the top-three on the championship podium to carry a prestigious SKUSA plate for 2015.
Who to Watch For:
Superkarts! USA and its competitors have been focused primarily on the western US over the last five years of the Pro Tour. The TaG Junior field, however, has 1/3 of the drivers coming from east of the Mississippi, including two of the four championship contenders, which has helped developed the Tour into a full national series. Among the ‘Eastern Invaders’ is New Yorker Anthony Gangi Jr. (GT7 Motorsports/Tony Kart). Gangi was the 2012 TaG Cadet winner at the SuperNationals, and finished an impressive 16th in last year’s TaG Junior main event. The talented 13-year old is quick everywhere he goes, and will be a contender. Top Kart has proven over the years to be a very fast kart in the Cadet and Junior ranks. One of the top Junior drivers on the East Coast over the last two seasons has been Zach Holden. The Indiana driver won the USPKS Yamaha championship two years straight, and was a regular fixture at the front in Leopard Junior. Holden was among the frontrunners at this year’s SpringNationals, placing sixth in the opening round.
Right there with them all season has been Wisconsin’s Brandon Lemke. The Franklin Motorsports/Merlin driver was top-20 in his TaG Junior debut last year in Vegas, and has continued to grow throughout the year. He earned a chance to compete at the IAME International Final in France this October, and the experience is sure to improve his skills behind the wheel moving forward. One driver who has stepped out of the shadows and become a contender in the Junior ranks is Braden Eves. The 15-year-old made vast improvements in terms of speed and racecraft, as the J3 Competition driver could be among the challengers on SuperSunday.
Notable drivers on the international side include Pro Tour regulars Petr Ptacek Jr. and Luiz Branquinho. Ptacek – son of Praga owner Petr Ptacek – was up and down this summer, but holds the fifth spot in the Pro Tour standings. The Czech Republic native recently signed on as a Lotus F1 Junior Team driver, and will work with the Energy Corse operation, making Vegas his send-off with Praga. Branquinho showed speed in Dallas, but the Brazilian seemed to struggle with the temp circuit in Modesto. The Italian Motors USA squad knows how to get their Italkart to work on the Rio circuit, making Branquinho a challenger from the start. Two-time SuperNationals winner Patricio O’Ward is also going the double duty route, including the TaG Junior category on his agenda alongside S5. Working with the Praga North America operation, O’Ward will have a busy morning competing in the S5 Junior Stock Moto class as well.
Rob Howden – EKN Editor-in-Chief
1. Anthony Gangi Jr.
2. Logan Sargeant
3. Juan Manuel Correa
4. Nick Brueckner
5. Antonio Serravalle
The SKUSA SuperNationals is a weeklong cage match. It takes controlled focus from Wednesday to SuperSunday, and in the Junior classes, maturity becomes crucial. It’s so difficult to pick just five kids, because I want to jam at least 10 names into my potential top-five. I see Gangi and Sargeant coming to the forefront here to battle it out. In the end, I’m going to give it to Gangi in a coin flip. Both of these guys want this win, and it may come down to who wants it most and can control that desire. Correa has been to the big dance and succeeded (2013 Rotax Grand Finals), so I like his chances to podium and fight for the victory. Nick Brueckner is still on the young end of the age bracket, but he’s confident and looked extremely comfortable with his new team in his last outing. I’m going to highlight a darkhorse in the final step of the podium. Young Canadian driver Antonio Serravalle has shown well this year. He has been running in Europe and continues to develop his skill set, and he’s been strong in big events. All that top-level experience could pay off big this in Vegas. Like I said, I really wanted to include names like Brooks, Malukas, Verhagen, Lemke and O’Ward, among others, but there’s just no room. I can’t wait to call this race as it unfolds.
David Cole – EKN Managing Editor
1. Logan Sargeant
2. Luiz Branquinho
3. Juan Manuel Correa
4. Anthony Gangi Jr.
5. Nick Brueckner
Looking at this field, you could really put between 20-30 names in the podium positions. The number of young talented drivers at this year’s SuperNationals is astonishing. It is the big stage, and any mistake can kill your event. Sargeant will become the first driver to win TaG Cadet and TaG Junior at the SuperNationals. Branquinho will continue the success of the Italkart in Vegas, showing speed all week long. Correa will earn that podium finish that he just missed last year, in his return to the USA. With another year of experience under him, Gangi will further develop as a driver and show the maturity that it takes to land on the SuperNationals podium. Brueckner is like a missile, fast and ready to destroy. Should he keep it off the walls, a second-straight podium is on the horizon.
Provisional TaG Junior Entry List
|57||Abby McLaughlin||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Comet Racing Engines||IN||USA|
|26z||Adam Smalley||Tony Kart||WA||USA|
|99h||Alexander Kardashian||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Comet Racing Engines||MN||USA|
|4||Andre Castro||ChiChi Racing||FA Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||NY||USA|
|07n||Anthony Gangi Jr.||GT7 Motorsports||Tony Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||NY||USA|
|106c||Anthony Sawyer||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||Hyper Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|18||Antonio Serravalle||Pserra Racing||Tony Kart||Pserra Racing||CAN|
|213y||Blake Milton||Snow Racing||Energy||Snow Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|241||Braden Eves||J3 Competition||Comet Racing Engines||OH||USA|
|01||Brandon Lemke||Franklin Motorsports||Merlin||Woltjer Racing Engines||WI||USA|
|201y||Chase Farley||Snow Racing||Energy||Snow Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|44c||Christian Brooks||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|15y||Colby DuBato||PKS Kart Supplies||Top Kart||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|198||Colton Herta||Phil Giebler Racing||FA Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|212||Dario Cangialosi||Mike Doty Racing||Haase||Woltjer Racing Engines||NJ||USA|
|79j||David Malukas||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Comet Racing Engines||IL||USA|
|95d||David Rafailov||Italian Motors USA / Italkart USA||Italkart||IM Tuning||CO||USA|
|896||Declan Fraser||Kartsport North America||Deadly||Kartsport North America||AUS|
|277||Denise de Rooij||2Wild Karting||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||NED|
|00||Devlin Defrancesco||Team Benik Kart||Benik||Supertune Racing Engines||FL||USA|
|10h||Emily Hurlbert||Franklin Motorsports||Praga||Franklin Motorsports||MN||USA|
|67||Enaam Ahmed||Ricky Flynn Motorsport||FA Kart||One Racing Engines||GBR|
|88b||Ethan Barrett||Ryan Perry Motorsports||Kosmic||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|76d||Everest Fedler||Unser Racing||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CO||USA|
|76||Gabriel Delgado||PDB Racing||Gillard||PER|
|80||Gabriel Patrule||Italian Motors USA / Italkart USA||Italkart||IM Tuning||BRA|
|16c||Gary Lyles||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|998x||Greg Osborne||Nash Motorsportz||Tony Kart||Hyper Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|888c||Hannah Grisham||Mack Motorsports||FA Kart||Mack Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|103y||Hunter Kelly||Leading Edge Motorsports||Praga||Leading Edge Motorsports||CA||USA|
|29x||Jake Drew||High-Rev Engineering||Tony Kart||High-Rev Engineering||CA||USA|
|49c||Jonathan Shone||2Wild Karting||FA Kart||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|77x||Josh Early||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||P1 Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|20j||JP Southern Jr.||Checkered Motorsports||PCR||Woltjer Racing Engines||OH||USA|
|424m||Juan Gonzalez||Leading Edge Motorsports||Praga||SwedeTech||MEX|
|68||Juan Manuel Correa||Team Energy Corse||Energy||FL||USA|
|555||Julien Andlauer||Goodwood Kartways||Praga||FRA|
|38||Lewis Kent||Mach 1||GBR|
|524||Logan Sargeant||Sargeant Motorsports||Tony Kart||FL||USA|
|55a||Luiz Branquinho||Italian Motors USA / Italkart USA||Italkart||IM Tuning||BRA|
|122||Matias Fernandez||AM Racing||AM||AM Racing Engines||ARG|
|12||Matt Solarczyk||ChiChi Racing||Birel||Woltjer Racing Engines||VA||USA|
|03d||Max Fedler||Unser Racing||Tony Kart||Tru Tech Racing Engines||CO||USA|
|422t||Max Hewitt||Champion Racing||Intrepid||P1 Racing Engines||TX||USA|
|131y||Michael Prinzo||Italcorse America||Italcorse||Pinzini Racing Engines||CA||USA|
|91s||Neil Verhagen||Kartsport North America||Arrow||Woltjer Racing Engines||NC||USA|
|74t||Nick Brueckner||Orsolon Racing||Tony Kart||Comet Racing Engines||TX||USA|
|23||Nolan Ruocco||Checkered Motorsports||PCR||Woltjer Racing Engines||NY||USA|
|219t||Parker Chase||Chase Racing||FA Kart||Chase Racing Engines||TX||USA|
|666t||Patricio O'Ward||Praga North America||Praga||P1 Racing Engines||TX||MEX|
|770||Paulo Victor||Team Techspeed||Techspeed||BRA|
|9a||Petr Ptacek Jr.||Praga North America||Praga||CZE|
|98y||Phillippe Denes||ART GP America||ART GP||SwedeTech||CA||USA|
|322||Rasmus Lindh||Praga North America||Praga||SWE|
|47r||Roman DeAngelis||Koene USA||Tony Kart||P1 Racing Engines||CAN|
|66t||Ryan C. Lewis||Iron Rock Motorsports||Tony Kart||Woltjer Racing Engines||TX||USA|
|221||Sasha Brun-Wibaux||Checkered Motorsports||PCR||Comet Racing Engines||FL||USA|
|05||Sergio Terife||AM Racing||AM||AM Racing Engines||VEN|
|70||Tazio Torregiani||Mike Doty Racing||Haase||Woltjer Racing Engines||CT||USA|
|56a||Ulysse De Pauw||ART GP America||ART GP||D Power Racing Engines||BEL|
|222j||Zach Holden||Top Kart USA / Grand Products||Top Kart||Comet Racing Engines||IN||USA|
|188||Zachary Sinclair||Team Energy Corse||Energy||P1 Racing Engines||CAN|
|111||Zane Morse||Kartsport North America||FA Kart||Kartsport North America||AUS|