|January 11, 2013 News
|EKN Trackside: Rotax Challenge of the Americas - Tucson Preview - Senior 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.
The Junior class previews were published Thursday, thus today we review all the Senior classes, including the competitive Masters divisions. 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
| Louie Pagano is projected as one of the many contenders in Senior Max|
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)
The largest category of the weekend is the Senior Max division with well over 30 drivers registered to compete this weekend. Filled with a long list of talented drivers, the opening sessions in Tucson will shape the outlook as to who will contend for this year’s title, as it’s up for grabs this year for anyone. Defending champion Phil DeLaO elected not to defend his title, but may make an appearance at the Phoenix round. This has opened the door for any driver to come in and claim the crown, along with the ticket to the Grand Finals.
Louie Pagano (Birel) has one title at The Challenge already under his belt, Junior in 2010. His runner-up last year and second place to DeLaO at the Pan American Challenge shows he has the talent to run up front. Virginia driver Nick Rivellini (CRG) started last year’s Challenge strong with four top-five finishes. A rough outing at the finale in California took him out of the championship hunt, but with another year of Senior racing under his belt, the Team WRS driver is posed for another run at the title. Aside from Aussie champion David Sera coming into Phoenix and sweeping the weekend, the other four rounds saw four different winners. Rolison Performance Group driver Parker McKean was one of those winners. The Kosmic pilot drove to victory in round five, moving him up to fifth in the final standings behind Rivellini.
Others who finished inside the top-10 last season include Mason Marotta, Andrew Zimmer, and Dakota Dickerson. Marotta (FA Kart) was runner-up in round one last year, but fought to return to the podium the remainder of the season. Zimmer (Energy) missed the opening weekend in Tucson last year, and now is coming off a broken leg to return back behind the wheel. The Buddy Rice Karting driver was a contender in the two weekends he competed in 2012. Dickerson is coming off somewhat of a sophomore slump in his second season as a Senior driver. The talented driver could not by a break but comes into this season primed for a good year under the Phil Giebler Racing stable.
Bringing the talent level of the Senior Max field up a notch is 2009 United States Rotax Grand Nationals champion Phillip Arscott. The Oregon driver will make his first full season run at The Challenge, getting a sample at last year’s finale. He’s joined on with the Rolison Performance Group program, both as a driver and coach. Another former Grand Nationals champ will be in the field as well with 2010 Junior Max title winner Andrew Palmer (Kosmic) making his first Challenge of the Americas start. Attending school in California, the Chicago native has a shorter distance to travel in hopes of returning to Team USA after finishing third at this year’s Grand Nationals. Sabré Cook (CRG) is a recent champion in the SKUSA ranks and is looking to take that momentum into Rotax competition. Entering her third season in the Senior ranks, the CRG-USA pilot could be a contender this year after finishing just 14th a year ago in the final standings. Jake Craig (Kosmic) was a top Junior Max driver for the past few seasons at The Challenge, unable to secure a title. Now moving up to the Senior ranks, along with moving to the Kosmic brand under the G-Phactory tent, Craig will take on the top guns in Senior Max.
|300||Joe Criscione||Black Flag Racing||Energy||Lake Oswego||OR|
|302||Augie Lerch||Pure Karting||Tony Kart||Tucson||AZ|
|303||Adam Dowler||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Sherwood Park||AB|
|304||Geoffery Roberti||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Portland||OR|
|305||Parker McKean||Rolison Performance Group||Kosmic||Gig Harbor||WA|
|308||Ryan Casner||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Sheridan||CA|
|311||Josh De Losier||Acceleration Kart Racing||Birel||Las Vegas||NV|
|312||Mike Herda||Tony Kart||Las Vegas||NV|
|313||Bailey Murphy||AZ Kart Werx||CRG||Phoenix||AZ|
|314||Hailey Groff||Rolison Performance Group||Kosmic||Richland||WA|
|315||Andrew Wiener||ART GP America||ART GP||Spring Valley||CA|
|317||Sabre' Cook||CRG-USA||CRG||Grand Junction||CO|
|323||Will Owen||Full Throttle Karting||Arrow||Castle Rock||CO|
|324||Bradley Dezall||Overdrive Motorsports||Tony Kart||Okotoks ||AB|
|325||Louie Pagano||Birel||Santa Rosa Valley||CA|
|326||Alejandro Fernandez||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||San Bernadino||CA|
|328||Jake Craig||G-Phactory||Kosmic||Mission Viejo||CA|
|332||Michael Ilavia||Dallas Karting Complex||Sodi Kart||Houston||TX|
|333||Carlos Calderon||Aluminos||CRG||San Jose||CA|
|341||Nick Rivellini||Team WRS||CRG||Great Falls||VA|
|343||Izak Hayda||MSquared Karting||Tony Kart||Rigby||ID|
|345||Tyler Edwards||Billet Performance||Arrow||Littleton||CO|
|350||Noel Dowler||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Sherwood Park||AB|
|354||Mason Marotta||Ryan Perry Motorsports||FA||Bakersfield||CA|
|355||Ben Schermerhorn||Schermerhorn Motorsports||Arrow||Highlands Ranch||CO|
|357||Phillip Arscott||Rolison Performance Group||Kosmic||Portland||OR|
|371||Max Mallinen||Yardley Racing||CRG||Liberty Lake||WA|
|373||Andrew Zimmer||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Tigard||OR|
|377||Nathan Kelly||Team WRS||CRG||Amherst||NS|
|380||Dakota Dickerson||Phil Giebler Racing||FA||San Diego||CA|
|382||Carlee Taylor||Tony Kart||Yucaipa||CA|
|397||Jonathan May||Phil Giebler Racing||FA||San Marcos||CA|
| 2012 champion Fritz Leesmann is back for another DD2 crown|
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)
The fastest category of the Rotax Max Challenge is the DD2 package. Add in a Masters class and a ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals for each division, and you have a receipe for some good racing. Entering the weekend, defending series champion Fritz Leesmann is the only DD2 entrant. Leesmann was perfect last season in The Challenge, earning his ticket to the Grand Finals in Portugal. Talking with teams and drivers, the total will be at least three with the addition of Andrew Evans and Cory Milne. Evans was a Junior racer last year, finishing on the podium at the SKUSA SuperNationals in the S5 category. He will make his first start in a DD2 package under the Rolison Performance Group, working with 2012 Grand Nationals champion Joey Wimsett. Milne is an S1 driver in SKUSA, with regional and Pro Tour victories to his credit, set to make his DD2 debut aboard an Arrow ride.
The growth this year was the DD2 Masters division, thanks to cooperation between a number of the drivers and of course the Grand Finals ticket up for grabs. Defending series champion John Crow (Arrow) spent all last year chasing the Senior drivers as he cruised to the title. This year, host of drivers from the regular Masters Max class and some new faces to the series will make it an exciting year. Last year’s Masters Max champion Paul Bonilla (Arrow) will make the move, as will 2011 title winner Scott Falcone (Arrow). Bonilla was among the top Masters drivers last season with two national titles to his credit. Now we will see if the Full Throttle Karting driver can learn the second gear quickly to compete. Falcone is no stranger to the DD2 engine. Running at the regional level, he drove to second at that Pan American Challenge event last September. Working with defending team champion Billet Performance, Falcone should be a contender out the gate.
| John Crow will face a tough field defending his DD2 Masters title|
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)
Two drivers who probably have the most experience in karting take the field to another level. 2012 FWT and Rotax Grand Nationals champion Alan Rudolph (CRG) took to the DD2 package well, coming from years of shifterkart racing. Staying in his home state this year and teaming up with Team WRS, Rudolph could set the bar in the opening weekend. If you own any Ribtect product, you have Robby Mott to thanks for that. The veteran karter is making his DD2 and Challenge debut this weekend, aboard a brand new DR Kart from DRT Racing. Mott has plenty of victories and championships on his CV, just making the DD2 Masters category that much better.
And we’ve yet to talk about the contingent coming from Texas. Three drivers, all with their own impressive resumes, make this probably the best DD2 Masters field ever seen in the United States. Mike Jones (Sodi Kart) is the defending Pan American Challenge class champion, and was part of Team USA this past November for the first time. Jones is no pushover, and will challenge for every inch of the course. Brent Harper (Sodi Kart) was in the hunt for the Masters Max title last year, but lost ground on the final weekend. Now running under Jones’ Dallas Karting Complex stable, Harper will throw his name in the hat. Joining them is Lone Star State native Trevor McAlister (Sodi Kart). ‘T-Mac’ returned to the karting scene full time last season, and was impressive every session. Now he’s turning his sites on adding a Rotax title to his trophy mantle back in LA.
|427||Andrew Evans||Rolison Performance Group||Kosmic||Sammamish||WA|
|461||Fritz Leesmann||CRG||Elk Grove||CA|
|504||Mike Jones||Dallas Karting Complex||Sodi Kart||Sachse||TX|
|512||Brent Harper||Dallas Karting Complex||Sodi Kart||Lubbock||TX|
|520||Paul Bonilla||Full Throttle Karting||Arrow||Cypress||CA|
|531||John Crow||Billet Performance||Arrow||Anaheim||CA|
|533||Trey Bennett||Dallas Karting Complex||Heath||TX|
|546||Trevor McAlister||Dallas Karting Complex||Sodi Kart||Los Angeles||CA|
|577||Alan Rudolph||Team WRS||CRG||Gilbert||AZ|
|590||Daryle Redlin||True-North Zanardi||Zanardi||Aldergrove||BC|
|599||Scott Falcone||Billet Performance||Arrow||Lone Tree||CO|
| Masters Max is wide open this year, with Ken Maxfield among the challengers|
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)
With the top contenders from last year moving over to the DD2 Masters category, the Masters Max title chase will see a new champion emerge in 2013. Among the top returning drivers is Ken Maxfield (Arrow). The Utah driver just missed out on the podium last year, and will be in the hunt for victories this year. Justin Peck (Tony Kart) and Larry Hayashigawa (Energy) had similar results, placing just behind Maxfield in the final season standings. Diego Pelosi (FA Kart) was fast at the Grand Nationals, and will make his Challenge of the Americas debut, expected to be in the hunt.
|607||Bob Snow||Snow Racing||Energy||Rancho Cordova||CA|
|608||David Pergande||Full Throttle Karting||Arrow||Katy||TX|
|616||Randy Stover||Full Throttle Karting||Arrow||Scottsdale||AZ|
|622||Diego Pelosi||Ryan Perry Motorsports||FA||San Diego||CA|
|625||George Patton||Full Throttle Karting||Birel||Anaheim||CA|
|641||Larry Hayashigawa||Buddy Rice Karting||Energy||Downey||CA|
|649||Justin Peck||Rolison Performance Group||Tony Kart||Sandy||UT|
|654||Steve Wiener||ART GP America||ART GP||Spring Valley||CA|
|679||Donald Durbin Jr. ||Cambrian Go Karts||Birel||Campbell||CA|