Close Competition Blossomed During Round Two of the Sanzaru Games Karting Championship
The newly branded Molecule NorCal Rotax Challenge provided great racing, plenty of Molecule Products were on the podium and worth fighting for!
Beautiful spring weather led to a bloom in entries as nearly 100 racers contested round two of the 2015 Sanzaru Games Karting Championship The majority of classes enjoyed multiple entries, the Rotax EVO engine was eligible for championship points, and the mighty Honda CRF 250 four-stroke made its debut. The “Sprint” track configuration called for aggressive patience on its tight and twisty layout, causing close competition throughout the fields.
Joining the Sonoma regulars in his Senior Rotax debut was 15-year-old Austin Riley from Team Racing With Autism. The young Canadian along with his father Jason, tuner Curtis Fox, and friends and family Jessica Benge and Shane Riley, have been on an international tour visiting premiere racing and karting circuits, hospitals, and schools throughout Canada and the United States of America. Their goal: Spreading Autism awareness, one lap at a time. Refusing to allow his autism to sideline him, Austin has become a sensation behind the wheel, winning several karting titles while inspiring fellow aspiring autistic kart drivers back in his hometown of Toronto, Canada. To learn more about his amazing journey, and to help support his cause, please visit www.racingwithautism.com.
Go Pro Feature – 80 Masters
After 10+ years of driving sprint cars, Tim Barber returned to his karting roots and rejoined the Sanzaru Games Karting Championships during Round Two. Barber did not waste any time getting up to speed, taking the pole just ahead of Tom Nelson and Roger Cornwall. The first heat saw Nelson taking the lead into turn one as Barber stumbled on the standing start. Quickly making up ground during the race, Barber was able to get by Nelson near the end to take the win with Nelson 2nd and Rob Mullaney 3rd. In the second heat, Barber stumbled the start once again and Nelson and Cornwall got by to lead the field out of turn one. Barber eventually made it back to 3rd place but was unable to challenge the leading duo of Nelson and Cornwall. Nelson and Barber where on the front row for the main, with Nelson quick off the line once the green flag dropped. Barber sat on Nelson’s rear bumper looking for the way by but Nelson was too sharp, making no mistakes. On lap 14, Barber finally made his move at the last tight hairpin and squeezed by on the inside to take the lead. With Barber alongside and pulling ahead, Nelson missed a shift coming out of the corner causing Cornwall to unintentionally rear-end him, allowing Mullaney to come through to take over 2nd. Barber took the win with a one second victory margin, Mullaney 2nd, Nelson 3rd, Cornwall 4th and Allen Miller 5th. For the win, Barber won a new GoPro camera, Mullaney won $50 in Sanzaru Bucks, and Nelson $25 in Sanzaru Bucks.
EVO Electrics and DD2
With the largest electric kart field in series history, Matt Cresci took his second pole in a row ahead of six other karts including Marcos Ramirez in 2nd and Richard Hilleman in 3rd. In the first heat, Cresci and Ramirez battled it out in the front with Canadian Austin Riley making a guest appearance in his DD2 kart. Riley is a national Rotax DD2 specialist, so the electric kart class graciously allowed him to join them to help him get experience on Sonoma’s challenging Sprint layout. Part of the agreement, however, was that that had to start in the back of the pack. As the race spread out, Riley was able to pick through the field to take the win with Ramirez 2nd, Gino Ghilotti 3rd and Cresci 4th.
In the second heat, Cresci, Ramirez and Ghilotti lead the field off the line at the drop of the green. Riley once again worked his way up to take 3rd overall. In the end it was Cresci for the win, Ramirez 2nd, Riley 3rd and Ghilotti 4th. For the Main event, Riley decided that he did not want to impede the EVO championship battle and sat out the race to concentrate on his Senior Rotax race debut. The EVO field took off and ran close together, seeming to pace themselves for the last three laps. Cresci, Ramirez and Hilleman controlled the field until the dash at the end had Cresci take his second Main in a row, Hilleman 2nd, Ramirez 3rd and Charles Stimmler 4th. Cresci got $50 of Sanzaru Bucks for his winning efforts.
Molecule Rotax Masters
The Rotax Masters had the largest turnout of the event for the second race in a row this year with Bob Olson taking the pole followed closely by Kelly Heil and Bill Scott. In the first heat, Heil led the field through turn one, followed by Scott, John Breidinger and Olson. Heil drove flawlessly, taking the win with Breidinger 2nd, Scott 3rd and Olson 4th. In the second heat, Heil once again took the field through turn one, with Breidinger close behind and Olson 3rd. Despite taking the checkered flag in first, Heil unfortunately did not get through the post race technical inspection and was DQ’d, giving the win to Breidinger. In the Main, Breidinger and Olson were on the front row with Olson taking the early lead. The laps wore on as Olson maintained the lead as Breidinger got tangled up with lapped traffic. In the end, Breidinger spun along with the lapped driver, allowing the rest of the field to get by. Olson came home with a safe two second win with Scott in 2nd, Heil moving up from 7th to take 3rd, Roman Alekseenkov 4th and Vijay Nagarajan 5th in his first race with the series. Olson took home $50 of Sanzaru Bucks and Scott $25 of Sanzaru Bucks.
Molecule Senior Rotax
The Senior Rotax class is enjoying a deep talent pool this year featuring several very competitive drivers. Jared Higham stuck the first blow of the day, taking the pole ahead of Michael Avansino and Davin Foster. Jared controlled the field from the start of the first heat staving off intense pressure from Nic LeDuc and Zach Pettinicchi at the end of the race. In the end, it was Higham taking the win, LeDuc 2nd, Pettinicchi 3rd and Foster 4th and Austin Riley 5th. In the second heat, LeDuc impressively worked his way from his 5th starting position to take the win with Higham 2nd, Avansino 3rd, Foster 4th and Riley 5th. The Main got off to a rough start once the field hit turn one. Bumping, grinding, and some sideways karts forced the field to scatter across the track. In the end two karts were broken, including Foster’s potentially race winning entry. In the end, LeDuc took a slim win over Avansino with Riley four seconds back in 3rd, Enzo Prevost 4th and Leonard Chou in 5th. For the win, LeDuc gets $50 worth of Sanzaru Bucks and Avansino get $25 of Sanzaru Bucks.
Pro Stock Honda and Junior 125
Qualifying for Pro Stock Honda and Junior 125 saw Alex Keyes winning the pole ahead of Brian Keck and Cody Hodgson. As the karts took to the grid of the first heat, however, Keck withdrew due to a rib injury. This placed Keyes on the front row by himself, with Hodgson and Pablo Carballedo on the second row. Keyes got the jump at the start and drove on to a four second win followed by Hodgson in 2nd, Pablo 3rd and the Jr 125 of Mateo Lopez in the 5th spot. In the second heat, Keyes once again took the win, but Hodgson closed the gap and finished two seconds back for 2nd, Pablo in 3rd and Will Hudson in 4th.
In the Main, Cody was now side by side with Alex on the front row and at the drop of the flag won the drag race into the first corner. For the first time all day Keyes was now the hunter, not the hunted. The hunt lasted for fifteen laps with Keyes showing tremendous patience and Cody driving without error all the way to the checkered flag. Keyes finished 2nd, 3rd went to Pablo, Will in 4th and Bryan Morgan in 5th. For the win, Cody is awarded $300 in Honda Bucks, good for credit when buying Honda parts, Alex gets $200 in Honda/HPD Bucks and Pablo $100 in Honda/HPD Bucks and Mateo Lopez gets $300 in Honda/HPD Bucks in Jr 125.
Be sure to cheer for Alex Keyes as he makes his Global Rally Cross Lights debut for the well-known IndyCar team, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing on May 31 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Molecule Micro Max
Twelve young and eager drivers took to the track with Sebastiaan Mulder taking the pole in qualifying followed by Garrette Randolph, Jr and Gino Sandoval in 3rd. Garrette took the early lead in the first heat with Sebastiaan and Gino about 2 seconds back with Skyler Geczi and Owen McAllister rounding out the top five. Garrette and Gino packed up together in the second heat to run away from the field. In the end, Gino took the win less than a second ahead of Garrette with Skyler 3rd, Aiden Piggott 4th and Tyson Quach 5th. In the Main, Garrette and Gino led the field out of turn one to embark on one of the best duels in Sanzaru Games Karting Championship history. While Garrette and Gino ran fast up front, a number of incidents took out a couple of competitors behind them, but everyone was focused on the Garrette/Gino battle that was nose-to-tail all race long. Garrette did not make any mistakes and Gino just could not muster the speed to make a pass, so in the end Garrette took his second win of the year, Gino 2nd less than a half second back. Sebastiaan came home 3rd, Owen 4th and Christian Legaspi 5th. For the win, Garrette wins $50 of Sanzaru Bucks and $25 of Sanzaru Bucks goes to Gino.
Molecule Junior Rotax
The Junior Rotax was once again stacked with talent ready to put on a great show. In Qualifying, Toni Breidinger took the pole ahead of Carter Herrera and Annie Breidinger. Michael Michoff forgot to install his transponder onto his kart and had to start the first heat race from the 13th position. In the first heat, Toni led the field through turn one and checked out shortly after that. Breidinger was on a rail and was never challenged as she drove to a four second win over the field. The front pack of karts behind Breidinger were all mixing it up for the entire eight lap race, allowing Michoff to work his way through the field. In the end Michoff worked his way up to 2nd, Colin Mullan 3rd and Annie 4th. Carter fought with Breidinger for the entire second heat race, but Breidinger held him off, taking her second heat race win of the day, Carter 2nd, Annie 3rd, Mason Cowen 4th and Michoff 5th.
At the start of the Main, Breidinger took the early lead with Carter and Michoff battling for 2nd. Michoff then took control of 2nd and raced off after Breidinger with Carter right behind. At the mid race mark, Michoff made his move for the lead at the bottom turn and Carter was also able to slip through on the Michoff pass. Carter held 2nd place after early pressure from Breidinger fighting to retake the spot. Michoff and Carter eventually pulled away from the field with Michoff taking the win, Carter 2nd, Breidinger 3rd, Mason 4th and Annie 5th. For the win, Michoff get $50 in Sanzaru Bucks and Carter $25 in Sanzaru Bucks.
Stock Honda Masters and CRF 250
This was the first official race of the new Honda CRF 250 four-stroke class with one entry alongside eleven Stock Honda karts. Hoosier Tires representative, Adam Batton, was also in attendance to witness the tough competition in this high-speed shifter class.
Patrick O’Neill took the pole ahead of David Arnstein and Matt Alcorn in qualifying, but Arnstein and Justin Bennett beat O’Neill into the first turn during the first heat. Reni Martinelli eventually got by O’Neill as well to take 3rd. O’Neill settled for 4th with Brad Shaffer in 5th. In the second heat, Matt Alcorn came out on top to take the win followed by O’Neill, Bennett, Shaffer and Jim Inglebright. Arnstein hurt his ribs in the second heat and could not make the Main, unfortunately. Bennett sat on the first row by himself allowing him to get into turn one cleanly, taking the initial race lead. With everyone fighting behind him, Bennett was able to extend his lead to a healthy margin. O’Neill was in second with a bit of a lead over Matt Alcorn when his engine started to miss and loss power. He held on the best he could, but on the last lap, Alcorn slipped inside going into the last hairpin and took over 2nd. O’Neill tried to defend his position but had to drive off the outside of the corner instead, eventually coming to a complete stop. At the checkered, Bennett took a four second win, Alcorn 2nd, Brad Shaffer a well-desired 3rd, Nick Gallante 4th and Jim Inglebright 5th. For the win, Adam Batton presented Bennett with a set of Hoosier tires. Bennett also won $300 in Honda/HPD Bucks, $200 in Honda/HPD Bucks went to Alcorn and $100 in Honda/HPD Bucks went to Shaffer.
The lone CRF 250 of Ori Della Penna finished 10th and 11th in the heat races but got involved in a crash at the start of the Main. For being the first official CRF 250 driver and a class winner for the day, he will get $500 in Honda Bucks. Honda/HPD Bucks are used to buy Honda parts or pay toward the CRF 250 engine lease.
Molecule Mini Max
The Mini Max drivers took to the track with some unresolved technical rules regarding the new EVO spec engines. Dustin Salaverria took the pole ahead of Bryson Lew and Ryan Tate. In the first heat, Salaverria took the early lead and never looked back with Lew second and Matteo Sandoval coming home 3rd ahead of Bianca Bustamante. Salaverria took the early lead again in heat two and drove onto a three second win. Tate took 2nd , Lew 3rd and Oliver Reed 4th. Salaverria continued to dominate the day in the Main, again driving off into the lead, never looking back. The action behind him, however, was far more competitive for the entire race. Reed moved through the field to take over 2nd with Bianca chasing down Lew to take over the 3rd spot. Salaverria took the win, Oliver 2nd, Bianca 3rd, Lew 4th, and Ryan Tate 5th. For the win Salaverria get $50 of Sanzaru Bucks and Oliver $25 of Sanzaru Bucks.
Despite the sunny spring weather, the Mini Max class raced under a cloud of unease as the rules regarding the use of lettered vs. numbered cylinders remained unclear. Race Director, Ric Shaw had announced that the issue would be resolved the next day after guidance from Rotax National. On Monday, Shaw confirmed with Rotax Challenge Director, Andy Seesemann on the lettered/numbered cylinders issue and the cylinder on Salaverria’s engine as well as the cylinder of Aiden O’Neill’s engine were not allowed. Salaverria will keep his win and prizes, but he and O’Neill will have to forfeit their championship points.
The next race of the Sanzaru Games Karting Championship will be held on May 24 on the Reverse Sprint Track configuration. Micro Max will be The GoPro Feature Class.
Results and points can be viewed on the Sanzaru Karting web site at sanzarukarting.com/racing.html.