|January 10, 2013
|EKN Trackside: Rotax Challenge of the Americas - Tucson Preview - Junior Classes
The Rotax Challenge of the Americas program is entering its sixth season, kicking off with a full weekend of action set for the Musselman Honda Circuit in Tucson, Arizona. The best Rotax drivers from the United States and Canada will battle at the premier winter karting series on the left coast. On the line for the already 111 registered drivers are direct tickets to the Rotax Grand Finals for the DD2, Senior Max, DD2 Masters, and Junior Max with Grand Nationals tickets to the Masters Max, Mini Max and Micro Max.
The first stop toward those championship awards is the 8/10-mile course outside Tucson. Built in 2005, the circuit - formally known as the P1 Kart Circuit - is a replica of the famous Suzuka track in Japan. A full day of official practice will take place on Friday, followed by two independent rounds on Saturday and Sunday. Each on track session will be important toward the series championship, with five points going toward top qualifier, up to 10 points in the Prefinal, another five for fast lap in the main event and 100 points for the victory at the end of the day.
Senior class previews will be published Friday morning. Complete coverage can be found in the EKN Event Page, updates posted throughout the weekend on the Official Discussion Thread with live coverage set for Saturday and Sunday at http://www.ekartingnews.com/live
| Luke Selliken is back in the hunt to claim the Junior Max title|
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)
The 2013 Junior Max field looks very similar to that of last year, minus champion Zacharie Scalzo who will not contend this year’s series. That has opened the door for one of the seven returning drivers who finished last year inside the top-10. Leading that contingent is 2012 vice-champion Luke Selliken (Kosmic). The Rolison Performance Group driver is coming off a solid season last year, where he also scored the SKUSA Pro Tour TaG Junior championship. Set on becoming a member of Team USA this year, The Challenge is his first opportunity, and the odds are in his favor as he scored two victories last year.
The only returning race winner aside from Selliken is Blaine Rocha, a new teammate under the Rolison Performance Group. Rocha will make the move from Arrow to Kosmic for 2013 and found victory last year with a photo finish in Sunday’s final race ( Click Here for Video ). The only other driver to score more points than Rocha returning is Austin Versteeg (CRG). The 2011 FWT Mini Max champion finished last year’s Challenge fourth in points, representing the top Junior rookie, with three podium finishes. Now with a full year under his belt, Versteeg could gain his first series victories this year racing under the CRG-USA tent.
Seventh through tenth in the 2012 standings are returning, three of which are racing on different chassis brands. Jim McKinney is another driver coming off a championship in 2012, scoring the SKUSA S5 title. Continuing to work with Overdrive Motorsports Rotax power, he’s moving to the new KGB brand for the 2013 season. Jake Preston was teammate to Selliken last year, and is making the move to the Phil Giebler Racing stable aboard a FA Kart. With both brands under the OTK Kart Group banner, the adjustment to the different chassis shouldn’t take long, as we should see Preston toward the top once again this year. Canadian Jordan Redlin finished ninth last year, and is hoping the move to a True-North Zanardi will help his championship chances in 2013. McKay Snow (Kosmic) rounds out the Rolison Performance Group trio this season, as the Utah driver returns for his second season in the Junior ranks.
Others to watch on the weekend include Brendan Baker, a top Junior driver in 2012. The Californian is moving to the ART GP kart for the Tucson weekend. Notable rookies are moving up from the Mini Max division, included last year’s champion Christian Brooks (Energy). The Buddy Rice Karting driver ran half the season in Cadet and the other in the Junior ranks, and faired well against the older drivers. Nevada driver Royal McKee (Tony Kart) stood on the podium four times in Mini Max, and will see if he can transfer those results into his rookie Junior season. Canadian Jeff Fulham (LH) is also making the jump to the Junior category in 2013, after running last season inside the top-five in the two event starts.
|200||Josh Kurtz||Unser Racing/Gphactory||Kosmic||Huntington Beach||CA|
|202||Coltin McCaughan||CRG West||CRG||Calgary||AB|
|208||Lindsey Freier||Billet Performance||Birel||Arvada||CO|
|209||Blaine Rocha||Rolison Performance Group||Kosmic||Oakdale||CA|
|210||Ryan Martin||Ryan Perry Motorsports||Tony Kart||Edmonton||AB|
|212||Stevie Pugsley Jr.||Cambrian Karting||Birel||Eagle Point||OR|
|214||Vincent Combret||CRG West||CRG||Kaleden||BC|
|216||Brenden Baker||ART GP/D-Power||ART||Palmdale||CA|
|218||Marco Eakins||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Beaverton||OR|
|219||Jim McKinney||Overdrive Motorsports||KGB||Chandler||AZ|
|222||Royal Mckee||Smoking Fast||Tony Kart||Las Vegas||NV|
|224||Noah Grey||Phil Giebler Racing||FA||Dana Point||CA |
|228||Nathan Adds||Dallas Karting Complex||Sodi Kart||Rowlett||TX|
|229||Vincent DePalma||Pure Karting||Tony Kart||Glendale||AZ|
|231||Jeff Fulham||Lewis Hamilton||Winnipeg||MB|
|234||Christian Brooks||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Sylmar||CA|
|251||Jake Preston||Phil Giebler Racing||FA||Renton||WA|
|271||Sonny Cervelli||Snow Racing||CRG||Benicia||CA|
|277||Austin Kuehl||Ruthless Racing||KGB||Cave Creek||AZ|
|283||Nick Ramirez||Top Kart||Riverside||CA|
|290||Jordan Redlin||True-North Zanardi||Zanardi||Aldergrove||BC|
|291||Sara Houston||Mike Collins Racing||Birel||Glendale||AZ|
|298||Phillippe Denes ||Buddy Rice Karting||ART GP||Carmel ||CA|
|299||Scott Huffaker||Snow Racing||Energy||Menlo Park||CA|
| Sting Ray Robb is among the many contenders Mini Max category this year|
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)
The Mini Max category has a number of top drivers from last year moving up to the Junior division, and in return will welcome some strong Micro Max drivers graduating up, equaling into a larger field from a year ago. The top contender heading into the season is last year’s vice-champion Sting Ray Robb (Tony Kart). The Idaho driver was on the podium five of the six races last year, including one victory. The remainder of the field will be gunning for Robb. Horatio Fitz-Simon (CRG) is among those contenders this season with one Challenge of the Americas season under his belt. The NorCal driver recorded two top-three finishes in 2012.
The 2012 graduating class in Micro Max, moving up to Mini Max this season includes the top four drivers in The Challenge championship standings. Title winner Jacob Blue Hudson (Energy) will lead the class rookies, coming off a three win season last year. Sophia Price (Kosmic) was quick in 2012, equating into five podium finishes. Fellow Colorado driver Derek Deslauriers (Energy) and Canadian Griffin Dowler (Energy) round out the drivers battling for top Mini Max rookie in 2013. Texan drivers David Ilavia (Sodi Kart) and Evan Bennett will be good additions to the Mini Max battle.
|100||Chase Farley||Walnut Creek||CA|
|102||Derek Deslauriers||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Littleton||CO|
|103||Max Fedler||Unser Racing/GPhactory||Sodi Kart||Denver||CO|
|107||Sting Ray Robb||Rolison Performance Group||Tony Kart||Ontario||OR|
|112||Dezel West||Smokin Fast||CRG||Henderson ||NV|
|113||Evan Bennett||Dallas Karting Complex||Heath||TX|
|116||Griffin Dowler||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Sherwood Park||AB|
|117||Sophia Price||Utah Contingency||Kosmic||Heber City||UT|
|121||Zoey Edenholm||AZ Kart Werx||CRG||Scottsdale||AZ|
|132||David Ilavia||Dallas Karting Complex||Sodi Kart||Houston||TX|
|147||Trenton Sparks||Phil Giebler Racing||FA||Bakersfield||CA|
|153||Jacob Blue Hudson||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Keizer||OR|
|156||Horatio Fitz-Simon||Clayton Snow/Ricky Luther||CRG||Pleasanton||CA|
|176||Everest Fedler||Unser Racing/GPhactory||Sodi Kart||Denver||CO|
|186y||Roy Fulmer IV||Full Throttle Karting||Arrow||Placerville||CA|
| Canadian Marco Kacic will challenge many of the new Micro Max drivers competing this season|
(Photo: Autosports Media Group)
New is the word to best describe the Micro Max roster for the Tucson opener. Thirteen new drivers to the Challenge of the Americas will make their debut at the opening weekend with only three drivers returning as the top four from a year ago graduated to Mini Max. Payton Durrant (Birel) is the highest returning driver, finishing sixth last year in the point standings with three third-place finishes. Canadian Marco Kacic (CRG) went all 2012 without standing on the podium, with the goal of turning that around this season. Filip Niemkiewicz (Energy) is the third and final returning driver, competing just at the Phoenix round with a best finish of seventh. The remainder of the field will make their mark as the weekend progresses and the series continues on to see who will contend for the Challenge of the Americas title.
|2||Aaron Farhadi||Acceleration Kart Racing||CRG||Las Vegas||NV|
|3||Sebastian Davis||Overdrive Motorsports||KGB||Phoenix||AZ|
|5||Marco Kacic||CRG West||CRG||West Kelowna ||BC|
|09||Max Wright||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Damascus||OR|
|10||Filip Niemkiewicz||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Breckenridge||CO|
|14||Christian Newland||Overdrive Motorsports||Italkart||Nanaimo||BC|
|19||Cooper Becklin||Black Flag Racing||Energy||Medford||OR|
|23||Ellie Anna Musgrave||CRG West||CRG||Snohomish||WA|
|50||Jacob Yesnick||Hudspeth||Birel||Rancho Palos Verdes||CA|
|56||Diego LaRoque||AZ Kart Werx||CRG||Laveen||AZ|
|88||Austin Torgerson||Overdrive Motorsports||KGB||Central Point||OR|
|91||Tanner Hudspeth||Birel||San Diego||CA|
|99||Josh Pierson||NRC||Tony Kart||Wilsonville||OR|
|78x||Paden Hall||AZ Kart Werx||CRG||Tucson||AZ|