EKN Trackside: 2018 SKUSA Winter Series – Ocala Gran Prix Preview
Inaugural series with big prizes on the line to be decided in central Florida
Superkarts! USA launched the Winter Series last month in Homestead, Florida with over 200 drivers in attendance. The four-round championship chase concludes this weekend as the program heads north to the Ocala Gran Prix in central Florida. The numbers may be a bit lower than last month, however, the X30 Junior category was sold out prior to arriving in Ocala, showing the continued growth of the IAME program under the SKUSA banner.
The series heads to the unique Ocala Gran Prix facility in Ocala, Florida. The circuit is among the smallest on the national level, just 6/10 of a mile with eight distinct corners. Facility owner Jorge Arellano has been a big player in North American karting industry, bringing a number of high-profile events to the Ocala circuit. The local program at Ocala and the OGP race team have helped to produce some of the top karters in the last decade. While the circuit may be smaller, the action will be intense throughout the weekend.
eKartingNews.com is going to be Trackside for the finale weekend of the SKUSA Winter Series. EKN’s own Rob Howden will be on the mic as the longtime SKUSA announcer, with all the sessions on Saturday and Sunday to be broadcasted at www.ekartingnews.com/live – presented by CRG Nordam, Nitro Kart and TB Kart USA. Be sure to follow the EKN Social Media channels for images, videos and much more throughout the entire weekend in Ocala.
Each and every session counts, with the championship counting the best 3 of 4 rounds for the SKUSA Winter Series program. On the line for the champions in the X30 divisions and the Mini Swift class are free entries into the 2018 IAME International Final in Le Mans, France. The Micro Swift and Stock Honda champions are set to receive free entry and race tires for the 2018 SKUSA Pro Tour. Many other prizes for the championship podium are on the line, with every lap of every session playing an important role.
The X30 Senior division was hotly contested throughout the Homestead weekend. Two drivers came away with victory and lead the championship chase. Dante Yu (CompKart) came away with the win on Saturday, but Italian Lorenzo Travisanutto (Kart Republic) stole the show Sunday. The SuperNationals 21 provisional winner gained redemption for having the win in Las Vegas taken away and leads Yu by 57 points. British driver Callum Bradshaw (CRG) sits third with SKUSA Pro Tour two-time champ Ryan Norberg (Birel ART) in fourth. Norberg has the most laps of the four at the Ocala facility as a former OGP driver. Some notable changes include Austin Garrison making his series debut, running aboard a Fullerton. SKUSA National #3 Brandon Jarsocrak is also carrying new colors, running the Kart Republic as KartSport North America has become the new importer for the brand.
The numbers continue to grow in the X30 Junior category, as the class is maxed out at 44-drivers for Ocala. Florida drivers Sebastian Montoya (Tony Kart) and Arias Deukmedjian (Tony Kart) were able to come away with the inaugural victories in Homestead, but it was former SuperNationals winner Tyler Gonzalez (Tony Kart) leaving with a healthy championship lead. Gonzalez, the SuperNats 20 victor, placed second and third, while running top-three in both Prefinals to score the most points over the two days. He holds a 50-point advantage over Tyler Maxson (CRG), who was runner-up on Sunday and earned the fast lap bonus. Canadian Thomas Nepveu (Birel ART) is third in the standings, back by 70 points with Jeremy Fairbairn (Parolin) in fourth, nearly 100 points behind. Montoya and Deukmedjian are fifth and sixth, needing two strong finishes in Ocala to close the gap for a chance to leave with the inaugural title. A surprise move is the advancement of 11-year-old Connor Zilisch (Tony Kart), 2017 SuperNationals Mini Swift winner, to the Junior division. Zilish was third in the SKUSA Winter Series following the events in Homestead.
The advancement of Zilisch makes the championship chase now a two driver fight at the top between Carson Morgan and James Egozi. Morgan (Benik), the 2017 SKUSA Pro Tour Champion, won on Sunday in Homestead to establish himself as the championship leader. Just 10 points back is Egozi (Tony Kart), riding on top-two results in the Prefinals with a fifth and third in the Finals. Branyon Tiner (Energy) takes over the third spot in the standings with Zilisch moving up, as Tiner was in the top-five all weekend in Homestead. USPKS champion Brent Crews (Nitro Kart) and Lucas Rodriguez (Benik). Watch for WKA Daytona KartWeek winner Logan Adams (Benik) to crash the party, missing Homestead and making the trek from Indiana to Ocala.
Two-time SKUSA Pro Tour X30 Master champion Derek Wang (FA Kart) continues to find ways to get to the top step of the podium. The SKUSA #1 plate holder was credited with the win Sunday, while SKUSA SuperNationals 20 winner Renato David (Birel ART) took the top step of the podium on Saturday. The two are locked for the standings lead heading into Ocala. Rodigo Piquet (Kart Mini) was the provisional winner both days, with penalties taking him off the #1 spot in each Final, and thus putting him third in the standings. Scott Roberts (Tony Kart) has a number of laps around the Ocala circuit, and hoping that is his advantage going into the weekend, needing to make up 84 points. SKUSA #2 plate holder Laurentiu Mardan (Kosmic) is in the same position, sitting fifth.
Currently, no S1 drivers are entered for the Ocala weekend in the S1 Pro Stock Honda division. The championship fight in the S2 Semi-Pro class should go down to the wire. Round Two victor Collin Daley (DR Kart) holds the top spot by just eight points over Brazilian Pedro Lopes (Kosmic). Inaugural winner Rory van der Steur (FA Kart) needs to make up 55 points over the weekend for a chance at the title.
AJ Noud (GP) and Jason Alden (Praga) split the wins in the S4 Master Stock Honda wins in Homestead, being joined by SKUSA #3 plate holder Ben Schmerhorn (Birel ART) and Luke Bhola (Birel ART) in Ocala. Victor Jimenez (Tony Kart) dominated the weekend in the S4 Super Master division, looking to extend that streak in Ocala. Rod Clinard (CRG) and Mike Rivera (CKR) are the top contenders with two-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Robert Marks (CRG) making the haul from California to Ocala to crash the party.
Five drivers sit within 50 points of each other heading into Ocala for the Micro Swift championship. Inaugural winner Max Garcia (Benik) has the advantage, with the SKUSA rookie leading by 15 points over WKA champion Caleb Gafrarar (Parolin). Danny Dyszelski (Energy) is another 15 points back in third with Sunday winner Ben Maier (Nitro Kart) in fourth. Parker DeLong (Nitro Kart) round out the top-five in the standings, with any one of the five in the hunt for the inaugural SKUSA Winter Series crown.
Colin Warren (VLR) dominated the weekend in Homestead to come away with the wins in the Briggs 206 Senior division. The Florida driver is looking to extend the winning streak in Ocala in hopes of earning the championship. On the Masters side, inaugural winner Eli Yanko (Tony Kart) holds a 40 point lead over Manny Sola (Birel ART) with Round Two winner Marc Julien (TB Kart) sitting third in the standings.