Paddock Insider: Challenge of the Americas 2016 – Sonoma
Series finale in ‘wine country’ set to crown seven series champions
EKN’s Paddock Insider is a new Trackside coverage addition, bringing you notes, updates and breaking news as it happens. The article will be a timeline of events as they happen during the 2016 Challenge of the Americas weekend at the Simraceway Performance Karting Center in Sonoma, California. The information will not be seen anywhere else, including interviews and photos. Please feel free to comment and discuss our coverage and today’s action in the EKN Global Members Discussion area below: For complete coverage head to the EKN Event Page.
Friday Final Practice
Testing Weekend for Rotax Grand Nationals Competitors
This weekend is a prime opportunity for racers throughout the United States to get acquainted with the Simraceway facility. The 2016 United States Rotax Grand Nationals are schedule to return here in Sonoma this August for the first time in the 16 year history of the event. Thanks to the Challenge weekend here, and no Rotax Summer Shootout scheduled prior to the event, this was a great chance to measure up the track against top-level competition. A number of teams and drivers made the trek here, helping to boost up the entry total to 95 racers total for the weekend.
Brooks Now Drives TO the Race Track
The Senior Max championship is going down to the wire again, and for a second straight year, Christian Brooks is in the hunt. Last year was a four-point disappointment, losing to Luke Selliken in the final stages of the main event. This year, Brooks is riding off two victories and a runner-up finish, and wanting to claim the title in only his second year of Senior Max racing. New for Brooks is the ability to actually drive to the race track, as the 15-year-old just received his drivers permit. With nearly a decade of karting under his belt, he can now drive cars on the city streets, and drive his parents to the track instead of the other way around.
Entering the weekend, it was assumed that Darren Elliott would be in attendance here in Sonoma for the series finale. Walking around the paddock and when the shifterkarts were entering the track for their first practice session, the Shifter Masters point leader was missing. The absence of Ryan Kinnear and Elliott completing a round of action here at Simraceway would give the SoCal driver the title. The Nash Motorsportz / CRG driver however is not here in Sonoma, or at another event happening this weekend. EKN has sent a message out to Elliott to understand what the situation is, however, no reply has been made.
With Elliott and Kinnear tied for the championship lead, and both using this weekend as drop races, the tie-breaker goes to the US Open champ Kinnear. Each have two victories to their credit, with Kinnear holding the advantage with two runner-up results to Elliott’s one, suffering a DNF in Round One. The title goes to the Champion Racing / Intrepid driver, who has now won two championships in a five month span.
For the fifth time in series history, the Challenge of the Americas is visiting the Simraceway Performance Karting Center and a third straight time to end the series. This weekend however is the first utilizing the ‘National’ layout in the counter-clockwise direction. Series and clubs use this direction before, however, for many that are competing here this weekend it will be the first. The feedback this morning is mixed. Those who enjoy slamming the curbs through tic-tac-toe in the ‘normal’ direction feel it has taken away the ability to gain one or two tenths of a second. For mechanics, it means less ware and tear on the kart. The natural layout of the facility offers a number of passing opportunities, at least six good spot around the 7/8-mile circuit.
Here is onboard footage from Rolison Performance Group driver and championship contender Coltin McCaughan.