EKN Exclusive: SKUSA SuperNationals XVIII – Preview Program – S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto
Exciting mix of young and experienced drivers make up this year’s field
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
Whether you’re roaming the paddock, working in your pit spot, or just making your way outside the Rio, if you hear the S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto division warming up their engines to get ready to attack the track, make sure you hurry to the fence or the grandstands. The S2 category has produced some of the best racing over the last few years on the SKUSA Pro Tour, and especially at the SuperNationals, and you can be sure that with the field we have this year, they’re going to do it again. A current total of 65 pilots will compete this year, all gunning to earn their first S2 victory on SuperSunday. These are the future Pros of the S1 class, and many of them have already shown the ability and speed to run with the big dogs. SKUSA’s dedication to developing their multi-tiered shifter kart program is paying dividends.
The Superkarts! USA Stock Moto ladder system has been in full effect since the creation of the SKUSA Pro Tour in 2010. The Semi-Pro category takes the young drivers or less experienced pilots and develops them so that they are ready to advance to the next level. They learn how to race, and most importantly, they learn how to win. Many drivers have graduated from S2 to S1, including a number of the top contenders in 2013, and this year they will be racing in the headline category in Las Vegas. For 2014, the S2 crop includes another exciting mixture of raw rookies and top drivers looking for that final triumph before they go on to the next level.
The closest championship battle of the eight SKUSA Pro Tour title fights is in the S2 division. Three drivers will enter the finale separated by just 43 points. Last year’s chase ended in dramatic fashion with Ryan Kinnear losing the title because of a broken carburetor part, one that costs less than a buck, which allowed Christian Schureman to earn the championship with a strong result. Both drivers graduated to the S1 Pro category for 2014, leaving the door wide open for three young pilots to earn their first Pro Tour championship.
Two wins at the SummerNationals has put Florida driver Austin Garrison at the top of the list entering Vegas. The S2 freshman finished fourth in his S5 Junior Stock Moto SuperNationals debut last year, and took the SpringNationals to get accustomed to the more competitive nature of S2. The temporary circuit in Modesto suited Garrison’s driving style, which should transition nicely over to the parking lot course of the SuperNationals. Sitting just 15 points behind Garrison is his Ocala Gran Prix / Tony Kart teammate Jonathan Kotyk. The 20-year-old ripped off three straight podium finishes to open up the SKUSA Pro Tour, placing seventh in the final round (Race #2 at Modesto), but he has scored the most total points over the four series events. Factoring in the drop, Kotyk needs to make up ground through the heat races to overtake Garrison heading into SuperSunday. With points available for qualifying and all three heats, the focus will be on topping every session to chip away at the deficit. Both drivers will have a busy two weeks, as they are each set to compete for Team USA at the Rotax Grand Finals the following week, so the pressure is doubled for the two Florida drivers who will travel to Spain immediately following SuperSunday action.
The third player in the championship chase is Pure Karting’s Kolton Griffin. The Tony Kart driver from Arizona opened up the year with a victory in Dallas, following it up with a runner-up result the next day. Modesto was not the event that Griffin had hoped for, recovering to finish sixth on Saturday before being involved in a number of incidents that removed him from contention on Sunday. Kolton finds himself just 43 points away from the top of the standings, with plenty of chances to make up ground during the heat races. We expect this battle to go all the way down to the final laps of the main event on SuperSunday.
There are still two other drivers who are mathematically in the chase, and they are Loris Ronzano and Morgan Healey. Ronzano, a 30-year-old from Italy, has improved with every round aboard his GP Texas USA entry, placing fifth and second in Modesto to help him move up the standings. Ronzano enters Vegas in fourth, tied with this year’s top S2 female Morgan Healey. The Florida driver made her S2 debut at last year’s SuperNationals, and has continued to improve with each outing. As the third Ocala Gran Prix / Tony Kart driver inside the top-five of the Pro Tour championship chase, Healey was seventh and third in Modesto, showing the speed needed to lead the class. Healey will be part of a strong group of racers competing at this year’s SKUSA SuperNationals who will be looking to become the first-ever female to win in the 18-year history of the event.
Who to Watch For:
Last year, Aussie driver Jason Faint emerged as a contender in the wet weather, earning the pole position for SuperSunday. Unfortunately, he stalled his Energy kart on the grid and caused a pile-up behind him. The 31-year-old is returning to Vegas for redemption, pulling a double duty, as he will contend the S4 division as well. The top returning driver from last year’s main event is Ben Schermerhorn. After finishing 15th in 2012, the Colorado pilot drove to an impressive sixth a year ago. This time, he’s jumping over to the Deadly kart, the creation of Aussie multi-time national champion David Sera and DPE Kart Technology – the manufacturer of the Arrow karts – running under the KartSport North America banner.
One of the best stories of the S2 division all season has been the progression and strength of the rookie crop of pilots. Thus far, Kyle Kirkwood and Jarred Campbell have stood out from the crowd. Kirkwood dominated the S5 category at last year’s SuperNats, and scored his first S2 win at the SpringNationals. Kirkwood was fast in Modesto, but a small mistake cost the Ocala Gran Prix / Tony Kart driver a chance at another victory. Campbell has seen many mechanical DNF’s this season, but the tide turned at the recent Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix. The Champion Racing / Intrepid pilot came from last to first after stalling at the start of the main event, putting on a show as he knifed back through the field to beat out some of the top S1 pilots in the country for the overall win. If he can carry that speed, momentum and confidence to Vegas, the NorCal driver will be a factor.
Three other pilots will be making their SuperNationals debut in the S2 division. 2012 S5 Pro Tour champion Jim McKinney has been competing in Rotax all season, but will make his first S2 start of 2014 next week. The Arizona driver will be joining the Pure Karting operation, which will have a solid baseline to work with thanks to the efforts of Pro Tour title contender Kolton Griffin. Nathan Adds is another developing driver who is quickly coming to grips with the competition level at the Senior ranks. The Dallas Karting Complex / Sodi Kart USA pilot has shown the speed, but will need to be consistent to contend in Las Vegas. The 2014 Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix Driver Scholarship winner Carter Williams (Phil Giebler Racing / FA Kart) has had an up and down season so the Californian will look to end the year on a high note with a strong performance on the Rio’s temp layout.
A number of teams have solid rosters heading to the SuperNationals this year, including two from the east. Checkered Motorsports has their sibling tandem of Andrew and Robert Bujdoso ready to roll. Both drivers have been working all season on developing the PCR for the SuperNationals, and the aggressiveness in which they drive could either help or hinder them on the temp circuit, depending on how things fall. DRT Racing has four entries in the category, including two drivers going for the double by competing in S4 Master Stock Moto as well. Texan Sky Finley and Tyler Guilbeault are the two young guns, while Christiaan Bouhuys and former S4 SuperNats winner Chris Jennings are set to attack the ‘double’ – all onboard the successful DR Racing Kart.
Northern California operation Aluminos always has a strong contingent of shifterkarts under their tent. Among their line-up for the SuperNationals is recent Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shootout winner Daniel de la Calle, racing for Cameron Karting aboard the Aluminos chassis, as will Muscle Milk / Pickett Racing driver Hunter Pickett, Aussie Bailey Mickler, and NorCal driver Will Preston.
Rob Howden – EKN Editor-in-Chief
1. Kyle Kirkwood
2. Austin Garrison
3. Kolton Griffin
4. Jarred Campbell
5. Chris Jennings
Predicting a top-five in S2 is always a crapshoot, considering the wide spectrum of experience levels in the category. Not many drivers remain in the class for more than a couple years, as they aim for S1 or leave for sport to chase their car arcing dreams. Those who do stay, or are in their last year before graduating to the Pro category, are always threats. Kolton Griffin and Ben Schermerhorn come to mind. The freshman class now has a full year under their collective belts, which makes them so dangerous in Las Vegas. They’ve learned the ins-and-outs of the class and the trepidation and uncertainty of the new challenge is gone. They’re ready to assume their place at the head of the class. Think Kyle Kirkwood, Austin Garrison, Morgan Healey, Jonathan Kotyk and Jarred Campbell.
OK, so my pick for the win is Kyle Kirkwood. I think that Kyle has learned to avoid the big mistakes, the hard way, and last year’s S5 win at the SuperNationals helped that growth. If he can keep his nose clean through the heats, I believe he’ll win on SuperSunday. The rest of the top-five are all contenders, for certain. On a personal note, I’d love to see Morgan Healey step up to the plate this year. She’s got a lot of talent and I’m a big fan of seeing young women excel at the highest levels of the sport. I think it does wonders for showing people that karting is open for everyone, because like I always say, “the kart has no idea if it’s a guy or a girl driving it…if the input is correct, they’re fast.”
My darkhorse is Chris Jennings, the S4 frontrunner and three-time Texas ProKart Challenge champion who is running double-duty in Vegas (S2 and S4). Chris is as dedicated to Stock Moto racing as they come, and he put both himself and his DR Kart on a diet to make the minimum weight. And that’s a feat for a guy who co-owns a couple of Jimmy Johns franchises with his father John. This father-son duo has won at the SuperNationals before (S4 in 2008) and I see him being in the lead pack all week. I think a top-five is a definite possibility, but I won’t count out interviewing him as the winner on SuperSunday either. This guy is all heart and will fight for the victory.
David Cole – EKN Managing Editor
1. Kolton Griffin
2. Austin Garrison
3. Jarred Campbell
4. Jonathan Kotyk
5. Morgan Healey
As we saw last year, a driver will have to earn his way onto the top step of the SKUSA Pro Tour championship podium. This year, it will be Griffin. A winner at the opening round of the series, he will end it on top, scoring the victory and the title. I predict Garrison to start on the pole position on SuperSunday, but Griffin will edge out the younger title contender. Campbell will lay down the fast lap in qualifying, but trouble in the heat races will force him to come from the back, driving his way onto the podium. Kotyk will be consistent all event, ending up fourth to edge out his OGP teammate, becoming the second female podium finisher in S2 SuperNationals history.
Provisional S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto Entry List
10c,Alan Michel,Musgrave Racing Company,Tony Kart,MRC,AZ,MEX
26u,Alex Yates,MSquared Karting,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,UT,USA
327,Andrew Bujdoso,Checkered Motorsports,PCR,SwedeTech,OH,USA
29f,Austin Garrison,Ocala Gran Prix,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,FL,USA
199d,Austin Schimmel,PSL Karting,CRG,SwedeTech,CO,USA
55d,Ben Schermerhorn,Kartsport North America,Deadly,SRS,CO,USA
56t,Billy Auffenberg,RPM RaceKarts,CRG,DDR,TX,USA
187f,Brandon Frank,Leading Edge Motorsports,Intrepid,SwedeTech,,BMU
122q,Cabot Bigham,Bamson Racing,Tony Kart,,MA,USA
55c,Carter Williams,Phil Giebler Racing,FA Kart,MRC,CA,USA
282c,Chance Stephens,Pure Karting,Tony Kart,,AZ,USA
79c,Chandler Campbell,Musgrave Racing Company,AMV,MRC,CA,USA
175t,Chris Jennings,DRT Racing,DR,SRS,TX,USA
118n,Christiaan Bouhuys,DRT Racing,DR,SwedeTech,PA,NED
44t,CJ Cramm,PSL Karting,CRG,SwedeTech,TX,USA
133,Cole Mathewson,Team TB Kart / Palm Beach Kart Center,TB Kart,SwedeTech,IN,USA
177y,Curtis Paul Jr.,Tony Kart America,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,CA,USA
123,Damian Ward,Team Energy Corse,Energy,,,AUS
333y,Daniel de la Calle,Cameron Karting,Aluminos,Cameron Karting,CA,USA
93,Dominic LeGrand,PSL Karting,CRG,SwedeTech,,CAN
132,Ewan Taylor,Team Energy Corse,Energy,,,ZAF
52,Fabrizio Famularo,AM Racing,AM,AM Racing Engines,,VEN
4m,Fernando Casillas Jr.,Team VemmeKart / Extreme Karting,Vemme,SRS,,MEX
624t,Graig Alvarez Jr.,3G Kart Racing / Team Burger King,Birel,SwedeTech,TX,USA
69t,Harry Gottsacker,Champion Racing,Intrepid,SwedeTech,TX,USA
36y,Hunter Pickett,Muscle Milk / Pickett Racing,Aluminos,JWR,CA,USA
727y,Jack Freese,Leading Edge Motorsports,Praga,SwedeTech,CA,USA
07n,Jake Karwowski,Pure Karting,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,NY,POL
103y,Jarred Campbell,Champion Racing,Intrepid,SwedeTech,CA,USA
22a,Jason Faint,Team Energy Corse,Energy,SwedeTech,,AUS
51h,Jenna Grillo,PSL Karting,CRG,SwedeTech,MN,USA
19k,Jim McKinney,Pure Karting,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,AZ,USA
26c,Joey Barros,Empire Karts,Top Kart,MRC,CA,USA
57f,Jonathan Kotyk,Ocala Gran Prix,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,FL,USA
181c,Jonathan Vitolo,Ocala Gran Prix,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,CA,USA
119j,Jordan Dick,Falcone GP,FA Kart,SwedeTech,,CAN
111y,Josh De Losier,Acceleration Karting,CRG,SwedeTech,NV,USA
197,Joshua Smith,Kartsport North America,FA Kart,,,AUS
81z,Justin Walsh,Musgrave Racing Company,Tony Kart,,WA,USA
88x,Kolton Griffin,Pure Karting,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,AZ,USA
82z,Kory Estell,Rolison Performance Group,CRG,SwedeTech,WA,USA
41f,Kyle Kirkwood,Ocala Gran Prix,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,FL,USA
221d,Lindsay Brewer,PSL Karting,CRG,SwedeTech,CO,USA
21,Lorenzo van Riet,2Wild Karting,Tony Kart,DDR,,NED
161a,Loris Ronzano,GP Texas USA,GP,SRS,,ITA
4t,Luke Shanahan,Luke Shanahan Motorsports,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,TX,USA
13t,Miguel Lopez,GP Texas USA,GP,SRS,TX,USA
16f,Morgan Healey,Ocala Gran Prix,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,FL,USA
400d,Myles Marolt,Billet Performance Karting,CRG,SwedeTech,CO,USA
00t,Nathan Adds,Dallas Karting Complex / SodiKart USA,SodiKart,SwedeTech,TX,USA
128,Nick Boulle,Jay Howard MDD,Tecno,SwedeTech,,GBR
98,Quentin De Boever,Ocala Gran Prix,Tony Kart,SwedeTech,FL,USA
14,Ricardo Gonzalez,Praga North America,Praga,SRS,,MEX
32,Robert Bujdoso,Checkered Motorsports,PCR,SwedeTech,OH,USA
11d,Ryan Rudolph,Billet Performance Karting,CRG,SRS,CO,USA
06,Santiago Creel,Italian Motors USA / Italkart USA,Italkart,DDR,,MEX
46,Sidney Gomez,PSL Karting,CRG,SwedeTech,,VEN
5t,Sky Finley,DRT Racing,DR,Fisher Racing Engines,TX,USA
526o,Tyler Fling,Champion Racing,Intrepid,SwedeTech,OK,USA
725q,Tyler Guilbeault,DRT Racing,DR,Fisher Racing Engines,NH,USA