EKN Exclusive: Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 20 – Preview Series – KZ
Five drivers on the hunt for $20,000 in world category
eKartingNews.com, the Official Media Partner of Superkarts! USA, is proud to present the Preview Series for the SKUSA SuperNationals 20. Leading up to on-track action of the 20th edition of the marquee SKUSA event and 2016 SKUSA Pro Tour finale, EKN will preview each of the 10 categories that will compete outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino from November 16-20.
Complete coverage of the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 20 can be found at the EKN Event Page. EKN Live – presented by Cooper Tires – provides play-by-play and live timing from qualifying to the final checkered flag on SuperSunday at eKartingNews.com/live.
The fan favorite every year at the SuperNationals is the KZ division. Non-moto racing was at the first SuperNationals in 1997 with the Formula C engine package. Canadian Michael Valiante won the first three years of the class before it was removed to allow for the expanding class structure of the Superkarts! USA program. The introduction of the ICC engine package brought a karting-specific engine back to the SuperNationals in 2002, with the SuperPro division moving to a mix-program of moto and ICC engines the following year. Eventually, ICC was the dominant engine package, and continued into the introduction of the KZ engines. The category remained as the SuperPro category until the SKUSA Pro Tour was established in 2010, rebranding the class with the KZ name.
As one of the three headline categories, the $20,000 bounty offered up by Superkarts! USA is on the line, with five former winners among the 30 drivers looking to be the SuperNationals 20 victor. Three of the four multi-time winners are in the 2016 field, including last year’s victor Gary Carlton. It was an emotional win for the California-native, who now calls Italy home. Karting has been Carlton’s life since the early 2000s when he found a home with the famed Trackmagic operation. The death of founder Fausto Vitello in 2006 eventually led to Carlton moving to the PCH operation – owned by the Neal family – and racing a CRG. That year, Carlton won his first SuperNationals and his success after that led to him moving to Europe to be part of factory team. Since then, he has competed with a few other chassis brands and remained a SuperNationals competitor year after year. During the 10-year span, GFC finished six times in the top-10 in Las Vegas. Now with IPKarting, Carlton is looking to duplicate the magic he found with the Formula K machine a year ago to cash in on the $20k.
World champion is a title that Carlton strives to earn, something 2014 SuperNationals winner Paolo de Conto has already notched. The Italian scored the CIK-FIA World KZ Championship in Sweden this September following a runner-up performance in last year’s event. Paolo won his SuperNats at the Rio aboard the new Birel ART chassis, which was his final event with the operation before moving to CRG – where he remains. Last year’s attempt at defending his victory was not one to be proud of, eventually retiring early. 2016 is his attempt to become a sixth multi-time winner in the KZ division.
French driver Anthony Abbasse has turn over two helmets to Superkarts! USA CEO Tom Kutscher, the cost of earning the $10,000 check for winning at the SuperNationals. The longtime Sodi Kart driver won in 2011 and 2013, and has been in contention since his first trip in 2008 when he and world champion Marco Ardigo made contact racing for the lead. Abbasse is returning to the SuperNats after a two-year hiatus, coming off a runner-up to de Conto at the world championship.
Now his teammate, Bas Lammers was one of Abbasse top challengers. The 2009 SuperNationals winner won with Intrepid that year in what was a near sweep of the podium for the chassis. The Dutch driver has raced in four of the past six SuperNationals, placing on the podium in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Lammers was not in Las Vegas a year ago, but the fan favorite is back flying the colors of the Sodi Kart brand. Bas also finished fourth at this year’s worlds.
The SuperNationals moved to the Rio in 2008, and with it came the only victory for Belgian driver Jonathan Thonon. We have seen the four-time world shifterkart champion compete in Las Vegas three times, placing runner-up in 2014 in his last appearance. It has always been with the black and orange of CRG, as 2016 brings new colors for Thonon in the blue and green of the factory GP with the VCI Mexico operation. GP has never won the KZ category at the SuperNationals, and Thonon is among a dual threat for the chassis.
Last month, EKN discovered a test session in Mexico featuring a number of GP personal and Formula One driver Sergio Perez. It became official when the entry by the Sahara Force India F1 driver was confirmed by Superkarts! USA. The Mexican motorsports star competed at the SuperNationals over a decade ago during his progression up the racing ladder, and is returning in between the Brazil and Abu Dhabi events – competing under the VCI Mexico operation with Thonon.
Perez is not the only high-profile name competing in the KZ category this year. 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi is returning to his roots with former karting coach Matt Jaskol for an assault on the SuperNationals. Rossi and Jaskol are teaming up for a week of fun, racing in both the KZ and S1 divisions under the CRG Nordam tent. Rossi has never competed at the SuperNationals while Jaskol is a longtime veteran of his hometown event, winning the Junior 80 class in 1998. His best finish in the KZ category is seventh back in 2010. The growth of Conor Daly from a young Margay driver to the rise of a IndyCar Series driver has been an amazing ride. The second-generation driver has carried the American flag with him throughout his motorsports journey that has taken him around the world. Always coming back to his roots in karting, Daly is partnering up with the iKart operation from Indianapolis to contest his first start in the KZ category.
Familiar names to watch include current SKUSA Pro Tour S1 point leader Danny Formal (DRT Racing / DR Kart) making his first KZ start, and running double duty with the S1 victory from last year and a possible 2016 Pro Tour title on the line. AJ Myers stood on the podium as the only American during the 2014 KZ main event. The TB Kart USA driver won both main events at the SummerNationals in S1, slated to race both categories as well. Canadian Phillip Orcic finished on the podium last year in an impressive drive to third. He is returning back with Mach 1 USA, also racing in the X30 Senior division. Watch for Italian Lorenzo Camplese, who finished fourth last year. Since making his SuperNats debut in 2013, the Parolin driver has steadily improved his finishing position, primed to compete for the victory under the Russell Karting Specialties tent.
This year, eKartingNews.com is offering up a SKUSA SuperNationals 20 Podium Prediction contest. Rather than the staff here at EKN making the predictions, we want you to make your best guesses for each category competing in Las Vegas. Following the release of each class preview, we are asking racers and race fans to make their predictions with the chance to win EKN Gear.
If anyone is able to predict all five podium finishers in any of the 10 categories, that person will be entered into a drawing to win $200 in EKN Gear. All you have to do is submit your predictions for any of the 10 classes, or all 10 categories by November 15 at Midnight PST in the Official Discussion Thread on the EKN Forums. If you submit, you may edit your choices up until the November 15 deadline. Those who edit their submissions will be disqualified.
The true international category of the @superkartsusa #SuperNats20 is the KZ division. Like #TopGun it features the best of the best. This year is no different with five former winners returning, looking to become $20,000 richer. It is a class with roots dating back to the inaugural event, and was won by North Americans until a string of world and European champions won eight straight. The was until Gary F%$&ing Carlton shocked the paddock with an amazing performance in 2015. Add in @f1 @schecoperez @indycar @Alexrossi16 and @conordaly22 – the fences and grandstands will be packed for the night sessions and #SuperSunday main event #EKNatSKUSA #TeamCooperTire #F1 #IndyCar 2015 – @gfc151 2014 – @deckpaolo 2013 – @AnthonyAbbasse 2012 – Marco Ardigo 2011 – @AnthonyAbbasse 2010 – Marco Ardigo 2009 – Bas Lammers 2008 – Jonathan Thonon 2007 – Marco Ardigo 2006 – @gfc151 2005 – @LMandarino23 2004 – @BowlesJason 2003 – Wesley Boswell 2002 – @David.Jurca 1999 – Michael Valiante 1998 – Michael Valiante 1997 – Michael Valiante
KZ Provisional Entry List
044a,Anthony Abbasse,Team SodiKart,SodiKart,,FRA
441q,Jason Alden,BDS Racing,Kosmic,MA,USA
24x,Willy Axton,Team iKart,iKart,CA,USA
355y,John Baldasare,Musgrave Racing Company (MRC),Formula K,CA,USA
74r,Chad Campbell,Innisfil Indy,GP,ON,CAN
115a,Lorenzo Camplese,Russell Karting Specialties (RKS) / Team Parolin,Parolin,,ITA
50y,Gary Carlton,Kartsport North America,Formula K,CA,USA
22j,Conor Daly,Team iKart,iKart,IN,USA
1a,Paolo De Conto,CRG Nordam,CRG,,ITA
21j,Cody Elliott,Champion Racing,Intrepid,WI,USA
37a,Danny Formal,DRT Racing,DR,,CRI
5y,Matt Jaskol,CRG Nordam,CRG,NV,USA
25r,Kristian Jeffrey,GP Canada / Innisfil Indy Karting,GP,ON,GUY
045a,Bas Lammers,Team SodiKart,SodiKart,,NED
31y,Nic LeDuc,Cambrian Go-Karts,BirelART,CA,USA
313r,Gianfranco Mazzaferro,PSL Karting,BirelART,QC,CAN
128f,AJ Myers,TB Kart USA,TB Kart,FL,USA
11r,Phillip Orcic,Mach 1 USA,Mach 1,BC,CAN
111m,Sergio Perez,GP VCI Mexico,GP,,MEX
303a,Kevin Pieruszek,KSW BirelArt Austria,BirelART,,DEU
401q,Barry Primus,Prime Speed,Tony Kart,MA,BRB
016q,Kevin Primus,Prime Speed,Tony Kart,MA,BRB
122q,Michael Rivera,Team eShifterKart,CKR,CT,USA
16y,Alexander Rossi,CRG Nordam,CRG,,USA
64a,Alexander Schmitz,KSW BirelArt Austria,BirelART,,DEU
17d,Christian Schureman,Mach 1 USA,Mach 1,CO,USA
032c,Alan Sciuto,DRT Racing,DR,CA,USA
27a,Jonathan Thonon,GP VCI Mexico,GP,,BEL
99a,Benjamin Tornqvist,CRG Nordam,CRG,,SWE
074a,Matteo Vigano,Top Kart USA / Grand Products,Top Kart,,ITA