EKN Trackside: Rotax Challenge of the Americas – PKRA Preview

Series reaches halfway point as championship chases heat up in the Arizona desert

The 2013 Rotax Challenge of the Americas is at the halfway point of its sixth season as the international Rotax Max Challenge travels to Glendale, Arizona February 8-10. The Phoenix Kart Racing Association facility will host the premier winter karting series on the left coast with over 110 drivers from the United States and Canada contesting rounds three and four of the six-race championship series. The opening weekend in Tucson, AZ at the Musselman Honda Circuit shaped up the seven championship chases, with the three days of competition in Phoenix to single out the contenders from the pretenders, as four tickets to the Rotax Grand Finals are on the line in Senior Max, DD2, DD2 Masters and Junior Max with Grand Nationals spots up for Masters Max, Mini Max and Micro Max.

Tucson winner Parker McKean has a one point advantage in Senior Max (Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)

Tucson winner Parker McKean has a one point advantage in Senior Max
(Photo: Sean Buur – Go Racing Magazine)

PKRA Formula K Raceway has a vast history in the sport of karting, hosting a Challenge weekend for the fifth straight year. The 3/4-mile, 12-turn ‘Full Course’ provides a great challenge for the competitors, feature technical corners and one long straight that will test driver and machine. Friday will host a full day of ##10#682#practice## with two independent rounds on Saturday and Sunday featuring ##10#686#qualifying##, prefinal and final runs. 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.

Senior Max may go down to the wire, much like most title chases do at The Challenge, as four drivers enter the Phoenix round separated by just 10 points. Round 1 winner Parker McKean (Rolison Performance Group/Kosmic) leads by just one point over Round 2 winner Phillip Arscott (Rolison Performance Group/Kosmic) and former Junior Max champ Louie Pagano (Birel).

Both McKean and Arscott finished outside the top-five in their other feature races, while Pagano was podium finisher in both main events. Pagano has more experience at the PKRA circuit, standing on the podium a year ago, but former US Grand Nationals champion Arscott can adapt to nearly any circuit he visits. McKean won at the series finale last year, and will carry a two win streak into Phoenix this weekend. Will Owen (Full Throttle Karting/Arrow) was impressive in Tucson, driving his way to second behind Arscott on Sunday and is just 10 points back of McKean.

Last year’s event was dominated by Aussie David Sera, as he visited the series for a one-weekend tour. The 2012 Challenge of the Americas champion Phil DeLaO elected to not defend his crown this year, but is rumored to compete this weekend in Phoenix for a one-off event.

Defending DD2 champ Fritz Leesmann (PSL Atlantic/CRG) was perfect in 2012, and began 2013 in similar fashion. A perfect score in Tucson puts him out front in the title chase with series rookies Andrew Evans (Rolison Performance Group/Kosmic) and Sean Owens (Dallas Karting Complex/Sodi Kart) giving chase this year. Veteran Alan Rudolph (Team WRS/CRG) made his first Challenge start last month in Tucson, winning the Round 2 feature race to lead the DD2 Masters championship standings. Round 1 winner Mike Jones (Dallas Karting Complex/Sodi Kart) sits second, back by 20 points with defending champion John Crow (Billet Performance/Arrow) back in third. The class provided one of the most exciting races of the weekend in their Sunday Prefinal (watch video HERE , courtesy of Scott Falcone).

Alan Rudolph leads the DD2 Masters standings, heading to his home track this weekend (Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)

Alan Rudolph leads the DD2 Masters standings, heading to his home track this weekend
(Photo: Sean Buur – Go Racing Magazine)

Junior Max sees last year’s vice champion Luke Selliken (Rolison Performance Group/Kosmic) leading the way in the points standings after the first two rounds. Selliken won the opening round in Tucson and finished second to Blaine Rocha (Rolison Performance Group/Kosmic) on Sunday. Rocha currently is second in the chase, 17 points behind his new teammate.

Aside from Selliken, youngster Noah Grey (Phil Giebler Racing/FA Kart) was the only other driver to podium both days and enters the Phoenix weekend third with Utah driver Austin Versteeg (CRG-USA/CRG) fourth. Selliken won both feature races a year ago, and you can watch Sunday’s run HERE with his EKN On-Board video, while Versteeg stood on the podium both days behind Selliken. Local driver Jim McKinney (Overdrive Motorsports/KGB) was quick in Tucson and could be a wild card in Phoenix.

Diego Pelosi (FA Kart) was only the second driver to score two feature wins in Tucson, as he doubled up in the Masters Max category. He leads the title chase by 36 points over Donald Durbin Jr. (Cambrian Go Karts/Birel) with Utah’s Justin Peck (Rolison Performance Group/Tony Kart).

Sting Ray Robb and Horatio Fitz-Simon are the top two drivers in the Mini Max division, separated by seven points. Each won in Tucson, Fitz-Simon (CRG) from last to first in Saturday’s main event with Robb (Rolison Performance Group/Tony Kart) edging out the competition on Sunday. Phoenix last year saw two wild days of racing in Mini Max, and the same is expected this time around. Micro Max was just that in Tucson, as there was no predicting what would happen, lap after lap. Liam Letzsch (KGB) left the weekend with the point lead as the only driver on the podium, including a win in Round 1, and leads the championship by 33 points over Round 2 winner Payton Durrant (Birel). Filip Niemkiewicz (Buddy Rice Karting/Energy) and Anthony Willis (DR Kart) are third and fourth, less than 50 points out.

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

Rotax Challenge of the Americas
Phoenix Pre-Entry List

Senior Max

No. Driver Team Chassis City State/Prov.
300 Joe Criscione Black Flag Racing Energy West Linn OR
302 Augie Lerch Pure Karting Tony Kart Tucson AZ
305 Parker McKean Rolison Performance Group Kosmic Gig Harbor WA
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
316 Sean Conyers Intrepid Phoenix AZ
321 Andrew Palmer J3 Competition Kosmic Chicago IL
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
331 Artie Carpenter Tony Kart Oregon City OR
332 Michael Ilavia Dallas Karting Complex Sodi Kart Houston TX
333 Carlos Calderon Aluminos CRG San Jose CA
341 Nick Rivellini Team WRS Kosmic Great Falls VA
345 Tyler Edwards Billet Performance Arrow Littleton CO
347 Mike Herda Energy Las Vegas NV
352 Jacob Maxfield Arrow Bluffdale UT
353 Adam 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
361 Alex Keyes CRG Folsom CA
371 Max Mallinen CRG Liberty Lake WA
373 Andrew Zimmer Buddy Rice Karting Energy Tigard OR
380 Dakota Dickerson Phil Giebler Racing FA San Diego CA
382 Carlee Taylor Tony Kart Yucaipa CA
386 Kol Bailey Intrepid Peoria AZ

DD2/DD2 Masters

No. Driver Team Chassis City State/Prov.
413 Bill Kann Zanardi Scottsdale AZ
419 Sean Owens Dallas Karting Complex Sodi Kart Arlington TX
427 Andrew Evans Rolison Performance Group Kosmic Sammamish WA
461 Fritz Leesmann PSL Atlantic CRG Elk Grove CA
504 Mike Jones Dallas Karting Complex Sodi Kart Sachse TX
520 Paul Bonilla Full Throttle Karting Arrow Cypress CA
531 John Crow Billet Performance Arrow Anaheim CA
577 Alan Rudolph Team WRS/PSL Atlantic CRG Gilbert AZ
590 Daryle Redlin True-North Zanardi Zanardi Aldergrove BC

Junior Max

No. Driver Team Chassis City State/Prov.
200 Josh Kurtz Unser Racing/Gphactory Kosmic Huntington Beach CA
202 Coltin McCaughan CRG West CRG Calgary AB
203 Luke Selliken Rolison Performance Group Kosmic Portland OR
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 GP Palmdale CA
218 Marco Eakins Buddy Rice Karting Energy Beaverton OR
219 Jim McKinney Overdrive Motorsports KGB Chandler AZ
221 Lindsay Brewer CRG-USA CRG Arvada CO
224 Noah Grey Phil Giebler Racing FA Dana Point CA
226 Jake Boyle CRG Anthem AZ
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
243 Jessica Dezall ##10#670#PCR## Okotoks AB
251 Jake Preston Phil Giebler Racing FA Renton WA
263 McKay Snow Rolison Performance Group Kosmic Lehi UT
266 Grant Copple Kosmic Golden CO
277 Austin Kuehl Ruthless Racing KGB Cave Creek AZ
279 Austin Versteeg CRG-USA CRG Sandy UT
280 Toni Breidinger Rolison Performance Group Kosmic Hillsborough CA
288 Annie Breidinger Rolison Performance Group Kosmic Hillsborough 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

Masters Max

No. Driver Team Chassis City State/Prov.
616 Randy Stover Full Throttle Karting Arrow Scottsdale AZ
617 Jacob Zamora Full Throttle Karting Arrow Chino Hills CA
618 Billy Kann Zanardi Scottsdale AZ
625 George Patton Full Throttle Karting Arrow 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
662 Ken Maxfield Arrow Murray UT
679 Donald Durbin Jr. Cambrian Go Karts Birel Campbell CA
696 Scott Berryman

Mini Max

No. Driver Team Chassis City State/Prov.
100 Chase Farley Energy Walnut Creek CA
103 Max Fedler Unser Racing/GPhactory Sodi Kart Denver CO
106 Griffin Dowler Energy Sherwood Park AB
107 Sting Ray Robb Rolison Performance Group Tony Kart Ontario OR
117 Sophia Price Utah Contingency Kosmic Heber City UT
121 Zoey Edenholm AZ Kart Werx CRG Scottsdale AZ
124 Christina Dezall ##10#670#PCR## Okotoks AB
128 Dante Yu Energy El Monte CA
132 David Ilavia Dallas Karting Complex Sodi Kart Houston TX
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

Micro Max

No. Driver Team Chassis City State/Prov.
3 Sebastian Davis Overdrive Motorsports KGB Phoenix AZ
5 Marco Kacic CRG West CRG West Kelowna BC
10 Filip Niemkiewicz Buddy Rice Karting Energy Breckenridge CO
14 Christian Newland Overdrive Motorsports Italkart Nanaimo BC
17 Liam Letzsch KGB Golden CO
19 Cooper Becklin Black Flag Racing Energy Medford OR
23 Ellie Anna Musgrave CRG West CRG Snohomish WA
25 Max Wright Energy Damascus OR
48 Cole Thompson Sodi Kart Conifer CO
56 Diego LaRoque AZ Kart Werx CRG Laveen AZ
73 Anthony Willis DR Peoria AZ
81 Payton Durrant Birel Lehi UT
88 Austin Torgerson Overdrive Motorsports KGB Central Point OR
91 Tanner Hudspeth Birel San Diego CA
99 Joshua Pierson NRC Tony Kart Oregon OR
78x Paden Hall AZ Kart Werx CRG Tucson AZ

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