Opening Rounds of 2015 Season for Texas ProKart Challenge a Success
Gulf Coast Kartway played host to start of official SKUSA regional and US Rotax Max Challenge program on April 10-12
Jordon Musser opened the season with victory in the S1/S2 Stock Moto division (Photo: DreamsCapturedPhoto.net)
The 2015 Burger King®/Texas Barge ProKart Challenge series – presented by 3G Kart Racing, Dallas Karting Complex and IAME USA West – got underway this past weekend (April 10-12) at the Gulf Coast Kartway in Katy, Texas. Over 100 entries made up the Superkarts! USA and US Rotax Max Challenge categories offered for the regional traveling program. Challenging weather conditions kept the competitors on their toes, with a mix of dry and wet weather all day Saturday, followed by a wet morning qualifying session before the track remained dry to close out Sunday’s action.
The combined Champion Racing S1-S2 Stock Moto category saw two drivers dominate on the weekend to headline the Burger King® Texas ProKart Challenge portion of the series . Former S4 Pro Tour champion Jordon Musser and former Texas PKC champion Jake French were the top drivers to beat in the 19-driver field. Musser swept Saturday’s round of racing, leading from qualifying to the main event. It was a wire-to-wire victory in the Final, outrunning French with three-time Texas PKC S4 champion Chris Jennings in third. Sunday’s wet qualifying session belonged to Musser, besting the field by a solid three tenths. The track dried and French responded by winning both heat races. French earned his own green-to-checkered victory in the Final, holding off Musser with Jennings winning the battle once again for third. SwedeTech Racing Engines S4 Master Stock Moto was a two driver battle. Alexis Costa swept Saturday’s round over Michael May. Sunday, May fought strong, winning the opening heat race, but Costa went on the lead the rest of the way for a second feature victory on the weekend.
The TaG Senior division was a battle all weekend long, with Austin Osborne escaping with the victory on both days. Nick Martin was the top driver in qualifying on Saturday, before last year’s vice-champion Osborne edged out Martin for the win in both heat races. Martin stayed on Osborne’s bumper throughout the main event, but was unable to demote him. The gap was just under a second at the checkered flag with Osborne first, Martin second and Pierre Paul Baradat third. Martin came back stronger on Sunday, posting the fast time in the qualifying session, and winning both heat races wire-to-wire. Osborne turned up the wick for the Final, taking the lead on lap 10. From there, he pushed his lead to 1.4 seconds by the checkered flag. Martin settled for runner-up, with Baradat in third once again. TaG Master was a two driver fight, going back and forth every on-track session. Ric Baribeault won Saturday’s main event, with Erich Polack scoring the victory on Sunday.
Two drivers earned their first wins at the Texas ProKart Challenge in the Leading Edge of Texas TaG Cadet during the weekend in Katy. Dylan Hajicek was victorious on Saturday, besting the 11-driver field by 1.4 seconds in the main event. Destin Shields was the top qualifier and Heat #1 winner. Hajicek came through for the win in Heat #2, and led all 12 laps of the Final. Shields was second with Enzo Scionti in third. Shields and Scionti went back and forth throughout Sunday. Scionti was best in qualifying, with Shields coming out the winner in Heat #1. Scionti then won Heat #2, earning the pole position for the main event. Shields took the lead on the opening lap, and never looked back to score his first victory by 4.3 seconds. Scionti held off Hajieck for third.
A new champion will be crowned in the AIM S5 Junior Stock Moto division for 2015 with last year’s front runners graduated up the SKUSA ladder system. The top two names in contention after the first weekend are race winners Luis Alfonso Perez Pena and Andrew Engberson. The two went back and forth on Saturday, with Pena posting fast time in qualifying and Engberson winning both heats. Pena got the holeshot and led all 16 laps to earn the victory. Engberson was a close second while Jacob Boubel ran third. Sunday was all Engberson, sweeping the day’s sessions and earning an eight-second victory in the Final. Austin Jeffries won the fight for second, pushing Pena to third.
The Texas Barge Rotax Max Challenge portion of the series gives racers a chance to earn punches toward the United States Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals, set for South Carolina in August. The state of availability of the new Rotax evo engine upgrade package forced the series to award equal points for the finishing position of either evo or non-evo engine packages at the opening event in Katy. All Rotax racers will be racing for one set of trophies, however, two sets of points were distributed on the weekend, and then will be merged into a single championship once the Rotax evo Engine Upgrade Package becomes fully available.
The Chase Racing Rotax Junior category welcomed Ryan C. Lewis to the top of the podium at the end of both days, beating out the 20-driver field. The 2014 class vice-champion was chasing Max Hewitt throughout Saturday. Hewitt ran fast lap in qualifying, and went on to win both heat races. Hewitt fought for the lead in the Final with Luis Alfonso Perez Pena early on, and contact took both out of the race on lap five. That gave Lewis the lead as he went on to the victory. Lawson Nagel was second with Miguel Ruiz in third. Hewitt and Lewis were the top two drivers on Sunday as well. Hewitt scored the fast time in qualifying once again, while Lewis won both heat races. The Final was a Lewis-Hewitt 1-2 result at the checkered flag, only to see Hewitt removed in post-race inspection. That promoted Ruiz to second with Riley Dickinson to third.
The younger divisions of the Texas Barge RMC program featured strong numbers once again in the opening event of 2015. Texas Barge Rotax Mini Max welcomed 14 drivers and saw Marcelo Garcia score the main event victory both days. Brandin Warwas was the driver to beat on Saturday, leading from qualifying through the two heat races. Warwas was moved down the order in the main event, eventually finishing fifth. Garcia and Yusuf Moola took control at the front, with Garcia securing the lead and the victory on the final lap. Moola was second with Cash Tiner in third. Sunday saw Tiner and Maxwell Waithman at the top of the order. Tiner was the top qualifier, while Waithman won the opening heat with Tiner returning to the point at the end of the second heat. Tiner led all 12 laps of the main event, while Garcia moved up to second ahead of Waithman. Following tech inspection, Tiner was removed from the results, which promoted Garcia to the win, Waithman to second and put Moola third on the podium.
The Texas Barge Rotax Micro Max division saw a number of different names at the front all weekend, with Juan Pablo Cepeda and Noel Jesus Leon earning the victories. Cepeda started the main event behind top qualifier and Heat #1 winner Vittorio Catino and Heat #2 victor Leon. The 12-lap race was led by Leon for much of the way, until Cepeda took over the position with two laps remaining, holding on to the checkered flag. Branyon Tiner worked his way into the second spot, dropping Leon to third. Tiner was the driver on top Sunday, besting the field in qualifying and Heat #1. Leon came back in Heat #2 for the win, and both were joined at the front in the Final by Catino and Cepeda. Tiner led the first 10 circuits before Leon took the spot and went on to take the victory. Cepeda moved to second with Catino in third, pushing Tiner back to fourth.
Gabe Bargas went all 2014 without a victory in the Motorsports Development Group Rotax Senior division, but began the new year with two wins already. Bargas scored the two heat race wins and then went on to earn victory in the Final. Connor Ford, the top qualifier, was his top challenger until retiring on lap nine, moving last year’s runner-up in the standings Thomas Beaudoin to the second spot with Spencer DeLeon in third. Ford put on a fight on Sunday, earning fast time in qualifying and the win in Heat #1. Bargas responded in Heat #2, and went on to win the main event by three seconds over Ford. Beaudoin landed on the podium once again, this time in third. Moises de la Vara ran uncontested in the Rotax Masters category, as did Lance Lehrman in the Kart Racing Solutions Rotax DD2 Masters.
Harry Gottsacker doubled up in the Dallas Karting Complex Rotax DD2 class. Gottsacker was never at the front throughout Saturday until the Final, taking over the lead on lap 11 and holding on to the checkered flag. He beat out top qualifier and Heat #1 winner Austin Riley along with former Team USA member Nathan Mauel. Riley, a Canadian racer visiting Texas to promote his ‘Racing with Autism’ awareness program, was the top qualifier once again on Sunday. The racing went to Gottsacker, as he won both heats and the Final. Riley earned another runner-up result with Mauel in third.
The next stop for the Burger King®/Texas Barge ProKart Challenge is scheduled for June 12-14 at the historic North Texas Kartway in Denton, Texas. Registration opens soon for the third and fourth round of the championship series, with additional updates available at texasprokartchallenge.com and along with the Texas ProKart Challenge on Facebook page.