2015 Can-Am Karting Challenge Returns to Medford for Round 3-4
Legendary Southern Oregon Facility Sees Robb Sweep The Weekend in Junior Max, As Brooks and Carpenter Split Wins in Senior
Rounds 3-4 of the Can-Am Challenge got underway Friday with official practice. Racers and teams were greeted by stifling heat and humidity, but by Saturday it had subsided and we saw perfect racing conditions. As always, the Can-Am free BBQ took place after the final on track session Friday. With full bellies and smiles on their faces racers were ready to race come Saturday morning. For decades the Medford track, run by the Southern Oregon Karters, has been the backdrop of fierce battles and epic heartache. The ¾ of a mile circuit, with its long straight and hard braking zones, supplies ample passing opportunities for all the classes.
This weekend marked the debut of the Rookie Cup presented by Go-Kart Hero and Rolison Performance Group. Seven local kids got to participate in the ultimate factory arrive and race driving experience. For $299 rookie drivers between 7-10 years old got behind the wheel of brand new Kosmic karts powered by Micro Max engines. Drivers and their families enjoyed two complete days of racing with full hospitality, a private pit area and Austin Elliott serving as driver liaison, tuner, and coach. Victories were split between two sisters, Seveen Wernegreen and Joie Wernegreen. Ethan Hutchison joined them on the podium both days with a 3rd and a 2nd place finish. “Mike Rolison and I have been talking about creating a program to help get new drivers into the Rotax series but the Rookie Cup didn’t really take shape until about a month before the Medford event. Given the limited time we had to promote the event, both Mike and I were extremely pleased with the turnout of drivers, families and supporters within the Rotax Can-Am Challenge series. Big thanks to RPG and Austin Elliott for getting the karts together and making it happen,” said Go-Kart Hero president Don Becklin. “Now it’s off to British Columbia for the next Rookie Cup event at the Greg Moore Raceway on July 11-12. We will be looking for a fresh batch of rookie drivers to take to the track, so anybody who wants to help us promote and recruit participants, please contact myself or Mike.”
Senior/Masters MAX Presented by Promagine
Coming off his second place finish at the US Open race a few weeks early Christian Brooks came into Medford as the odds on favourite. Brooks led all the timed sessions heading into Saturday’s qualifying session. Brooks smashed the stout field of Senior Max drivers, putting 4 tenths on his nearest competitor, Vancouver, WA. racer Adam Smalley. Team USA driver Derek Wang qualified P3 with Artie Carpenter and Kyle Dupell rounding out the fast five. Brooks cruised to an easy win in the pre-final and continued to soft pedal for most of the main event. He dialled his times back by a second a lap to conserve tires for Sunday’s race. Bradley Dezall emerged from the opening corners behind Brooks and ahead of Hailey Groff. Groff challenged hard for the position before finally getting past in turn 4. After showing up late Friday and having no practice Davey Manthei Jr. climbed up into 3rd place. Wang and Carpenter were also on the move after DNF’s in the pre-final saw them start towards the bottom of the grid. With Brooks out front Groff drove the #314 home to a 2nd place and her first Can-Am podium. Manthei finished in 3rd. John Breidinger kept his win streak alive, taking the top step of the podium both days. Four in a row for John.
Sunday started off with Brooks cleaning house once again. With another pole and pre-final win, Brooks was poised to go home with all the marbles. The 20-lap final seemed like a mere formality until Brooks hit the curb and dropped his chain on lap four. Carpenter, a winner from Tri-Cities gladly took over the position and drove to a 5 second margin of victory. The battle for 2nd and 3rd intensified as the laps wound down. Wang closed the gap on Manthei late in the contest and made a late race move for 2nd. It worked, dropping Manthei down the order to 3rd. Groff, Dezall and Dupell all jockeyed for position a few seconds back, little did they know it was for the final podium position. After a grenade’d motor in Saturday’s pre-final Wang switched to a backup motor sealed two years prior. Unfortunately, it didn’t meet current specs and he had to surrender the position. Manthei was bumped to 2nd and Groff was then elevated to 3rd, for her second podium in two days.
Junior MAX Presented by RPG
Sting Ray Robb swept the Junior Max class this weekend, winning everything put in front of him. It was suggested he needed a broom on the podium, but he probably could have rode that to victory as well. Even though the results show Robb at the top of the charts it was not to say it came easily for him. With a stacked field of 18 drivers every position was hard to keep. Michael Michoff was consistently in a position to make things difficult for the Idaho driver Robb. Michoff qualified 2nd both days and was the only other driver to lead any laps all weekend. With Robb essentially driving away from the competition 2nd place was the best to hope for, and everyone wanted it. Both Saturday and Sunday saw a spirited contest for the lesser spots on the podium. Michoff jumped out to an early lead to begin Saturday’s final but Robb was back around him a few laps after. Annie Breidinger, Hunter Melahn, Spencer Kunz all turned in great drives behind Robb and Michoff, but in the end it was Melahn who made the third step on the podium. Sunday was more of the same with Robb dominating the on track festivities. Michoff again ran solidly in 2nd place but third went to Michael McCarthy. McCarthy struggled all weekend with gremlins, but a trip over to the drag strip next door got him sorted out in time for the main. The pole sitter from Tri-Cities started 8th and drove to 3rd.
Mini MAX Presented by MonsterX
Austin Torgerson and Grant Langon were consistently the two quickest karts in Mini Max. Cooper Becklin and Marco Kacic also showed speed as did Josh Pierson, Carsen Kunz Jonathan Portz and Ellie Musgrave. Overall it was the tightest field of drivers in Medford. Saturday’s top qualifier was Torgerson, running a 54.026. Langon stopped the clock P2, and less than a tenth off the pole sitter’s pace. Torgerson went on to win the pre-final and lead every lap in the final. Contact for second place saw Portz fall to the tail of the field and Langon issued a 10 second penalty for avoidable contact. Kacic and Becklin gained ground in the first of two finals to finish in 2nd and 3rd. The tables turned in Sunday’s qualifying session with Langon securing the pole. Torgerson had a declarations error and started the pre-final from the rear of the field. Kunz chased Langon to the finish line in pre-final action with Torgerson getting up into third. Torgerson spent the entire 15-lap final glued to the bumper of Langon. He kept looking for a way past, but none materialized, and Langon scored the win. Torgerson finished his run in 2nd. Pierson was running double duty this weekend in Micro and Mini and scored his first mini podium on Sunday with his 3rd place finish.
Micro MAX Presented by GoKart Hero
Josh Pierson topped the charts in qualifying Saturday with Ashton Torgerson only off by a scant .023. The pre-final saw Pierson take the win and Torgerson take a penalty for a jumped start. Pierson sped off at the drop of the green with Ryan Dezall in 2nd and Torgerson up to 3rd. Once again the battle ensued for the lead with Dezall, Jason Leung and Isabella Jaime trying to keep contact. The duo pulled out an 8 second gap at the finish with Pierson scoring the win and Torgerson settling for 2nd. Dezall ended his day on the podium in 3rd.
The rivalry continued through Sunday with Torgerson securing the pole and the pre-final win. Unfortunately the epic battle we hoped to see unfold in the main event ended early in the 15-lap contest. Torgerson fell out early with pulse line issues, leaving Pierson with a solo run to the finish. Dezall had another strong showing on Sunday finishing in 2nd place. Leung finished a few lengths back for 3rd.
Shifters Presented by Wicked Fabrication
Based off lap times alone the shifter category looked to be a blow out by Joe Criscione. He consistently stopped the clock a few tenths quicker than Justin Walsh all weekend. Walsh on the other hand had fantastic starts every time they lined up. This made for an interesting set of laps to begin each of the race sessions. Tyler Shepard and Dave Shepard made their 2015 debuts after not making the trek up to the opening rounds at Tri-Cities. Criscione went undefeated all weekend with both poles, two heat wins and a sweep of the finals. Walsh was so good off the line that the driver with the “I Love My Mom” visor strip kept people at the fence just to watch the hole shot. Dave Shepard took both victories in the Masters with Tyler finishing in 3rd both days behind Criscione and Walsh.
LO206 Presented by Briggs & Stratton
Jacob Gulick was top of the charts on Saturday for the Junior LO206 qualifying session. His 1-second advantage held out all through the pre-final and through the main event. Ryan Vallee stepped up his game in the final and brought the fight to Gulick. The lead was exchanged multiple times with Mason Buck sitting on in 3rd. When the checkered flag flew it was for Gulick. Vallee finished 2nd and Buck was 3rd. Sunday got a little more interesting as Derek Wang, Samuel Gerlof and Enrique Jaime pulled out their karts and joined in the fun. Wang was by far the fastest and started the final from the back after having a mysterious mechanical gremlin on the warm up lap. The ensuing 15 laps was a blast to watch as Senior driver Wang battled with the Juniors lap after lap. The running order changed a couple times per lap with the final outcome not decided until the last set of corners. Wang took the overall with Vallee grabbing 2nd overall and first in Juniors. The entire field finished in a group with Gerlof getting 2nd and Gulick 3rd.
The Can-Am Karting Challenge will resume in mid-July when they put the Can in Can-Am at the Greg Moore Raceway in Chilliwack, British Columbia. This foray into BC will take place July 10-12 and is always a fantastic event.
For more information on the 2015 Can-Am Karting Challenge, please visit www.CanAmKartingChallenge.com. For general questions and information as well as questions about online registration, please contact Info@CanAmRotax.com. For information and questions regarding the Rotax cylinder exchange program, please contact Mike@CanAmRotax.com