eKartingNews.com Driver of the Month: April 2017 – Alex Bertagnoli
Merlin USA / Franklin Motorsports driver hits history books at opening USPKS event
In a continued effort to highlight the many outstanding performances by drivers around the country, eKartingNews.com is proud to introduce the ‘Driver of the Month’ program. Each month, the staff at EKN will determine the one driver who stood out above the rest and give the viewers a chance to know exactly what they accomplished and who they are.
The United States Pro Kart Series began its fifth season last month when the program visited the GoPro Motorplex circuit. It was the fourth time the championship opened up at the Mooresville, North Carolina facility, welcoming great weather for the first time for an April visit. The Carolina Grand Prix was the debut of two major items for United States karting. One, the series implemented the ‘pushback’ bumpers on all karts to help eliminate rough driving. And second, the debut of the IAME KA100 engine platform.
Twenty-seven drivers made the debut weekend for the KA100 category with United States Pro Kart Series, including Alex Bertagnoli. The Senior rookie, who claimed both IAME Junior and Yamaha Junior titles at USPKS along with the SKUSA Pro Tour Junior title, qualified fourth to open up the Saturday round of racing. Bertagnoli drove up to second in the first 15-lap heat race, before leading part of the second heat, eventually ending up in the second position. Alex was shuffled back to fourth early in the lead pack but worked his way up to fight for the top spot against top qualifier and heat winner Brandon Jarsocrak along with former national level driver Dusty Davis. Bertagnoli secured the lead with three laps remaining, holding on to cross the line first and put his name in the record books as the first USPKS KA100 victor. The win was also his first as a Senior driver.
On the same day, the 15-year-old recorded a second victory, claiming the opening round of the IAME Pro division. Alex was in the mix right away, posting the second quickest lap of the qualifying session, missing out on the fast time by just 89 thousandths of a second. Bertagnoli ran second and third in the two 15-lap heat races, lining up on the outside of row one for the 20-lap main event. A rough opening circuit put Alex down to seventh in the order with work to do. Lap after lap, Bertganoli inched his way closer to the top spot. With five laps remaining, Alex put himself into second behind Jarsocrak. The Franklin Motorsport / Merlin driver took the lead away on the final circuit, crossing the line first to claim victory.
Bertagnoli added two runner-up finishes on Sunday, placing second to Dusty Davis in KA100 and just behind Jarsocrak in IAME Pro. Alex holds the championship lead in the KA100 category by eight points over Jarsocrak, while the two swap positions in the IAME Pro standings with Bertagnoli trailing by 21 points. Along with the USPKS program, Bertagnoli is carrying the #1 SKUSA graduation plate after earning the X30 Junior title in 2016. The opening two events on the SKUSA Pro Tour have been rough with issues at NOLA and Sonoma, with Alex looking to turn it around at New Castle in August. You may also see the Illinois driver at some of the Route 66 Sprint Series events this summer.
April 2017 EKN Driver of the Month – Alex Bertagnoli
Hometown: Wauconda, Illinois
Parents: Alan & Michelle
Height/Weight: 5’10” / 135lbs.
Education: High School Freshman
Engine/Engine Builder: Woltjer Racing Engines
Sponsors: Franklin Motorsports, Woltjer Racing Engines, Arai, Race Ready Engineering, Minus 273
Series You Compete In: SKUSA Pro Tour, United States Pro Kart Series, Route 66 Sprint Series
Years Karting: 11
How did you get started in karting? Went to MRP and rented a kid kart and I was fast in it so we bought it and started racing club races at the Badger Kart Club
What has been the high point in your racing career? Winning the 2016 SKUSA X30 Junior Pro Tour Championship
What are your goals in racing? To make it up as far as I can and hopefully make it into a pro form of motorsports
In a few words, how would you describe your driving style? Clean but Aggressive
Funniest moment at the race track? SKUSA SuperNats 2015 when the whole FMS tent starting yelling at each other in British Accents
Favorite Track: USAIR Motorsports Raceway – Shawano, Wisconsin
Favorite form of professional motorsports: Formula 1
Favorite karting driver: N/A
Favorite professional driver: Lewis Hamilton
Favorite website: YouTube
Favorite movie: Saving Private Ryan
Favorite actor/actress: Jason Statham
Favorite music/group: Calvin Harris
Favorite vacation/activity spot: Florida
Favorite food: Sushi
The Real Deal
What do you do when not at the track? School & Baseball
What are your goals outside of karting? Attend a good College
What app or game do you play a lot of right now? Clash of Clans
What type of street car would you like to drive? Ford Focus ST
What are your pet peeves or things that irritate you? Babies crying on planes
What do you think could be done to improve the sport of karting? Drop down bumpers in the SKUSA Pro Tour
What are your favorite aspects about the sport of karting? The competition and the adrenaline rush
April 2017 Driver of the Month – Honorable Mention:
– Logan Adams: WKA Winter Cup – Yamaha Sportsman Double Winner (Series Champion)
– Josh Lane: Gearup F-Series – KZ and Stock Honda Winner
– Sebastian Mulder: Challenge of the Americas – Micro Swift Double Winner (Series Champion)
– Mateo Rubio-Luengo: WKA Winter Cup – Mini Swift Double Winner (Four straight wins)
– Austin Schaff: United States Pro Kart Series – IAME Junior Double Winner
– Santiago Trisini: United States Pro Kart Series – Mini Swift Double Winner