EKN Trackside: Rotax Pan-American Challenge – Preview

International shoot-out for final Rotax Grand Finals tickets set for NOLA Motorsports Park

This weekend marks the beginning of a busy two months in the sport, with the world stage focused on the Untied States. The Rotax Pan-American Challenge will be contested at the NOLAMotorsportsPark in New Orleans this weekend, with the final four tickets set to be awarded to next month’s Rotax Grand Finals. The ‘Olympics of Karting’ event will bring together over 300 drivers from more than 60 countries, hosted for the first time on USA soil. The Pan-Am event will bring together nearly 200 international racers in the seven Rotax Max Challenge categories, with the top driver in Senior Max, DD2, DD2 Masters, and Junior Max earning the final tickets to the November 13-16 world championship. In addition, the top-three pilots who land on the podium in the Mini and Micro categories will land a qualifying spot in the Invitational event, held in conjunction with the Grand Finals.

California driver Fritz Leesmann is among the Team USA drivers competing this weekend in DD2 (Photo: seanbuur.com)

California driver Fritz Leesmann is among the Team USA drivers competing this weekend in DD2 (Photo: seanbuur.com)

Drivers and teams settled in earlier in the week, including last week as some took the opportunity to compete in the USRMC Texas ProKart Challenge event. Wednesday began unofficial practice as drivers took to the track for six sessions. Thursday, competitors took to the track four times, along with learning on the Parc Ferme procedures as many are new to the tire and fuel barns in Rotax competition. The competition begins Friday with qualifying and opening heat action taking place, with the final two rounds of heats contested on Saturday. Prefinal and final events to decide the Pan-American Challenge champions are set for Sunday.

Over 20 drivers are entered in the DD2 category, filled with a number of top drivers from around the world. The most famous name in Rotax competition is two-time Grand Finals winner Pier-Luc Ouellette. The Canadian is set for another run at the world Rotax title, qualified through the Canadian Karting Nationals. Another former champion in the field is South African Cristiano Morgado. The defending DD2 Masters champion is taking on the young guns to help warm-up for next month’s Grand Finals. Swedish driver Kevin Ludi and Belgian Xen De Ruwe have already raced in North America this season, competing at the Florida Winter Tour. Both are locked in for the Grand Finals, using the weekend for a test session. The majority of the field is made up of North Americans. Fritz Leesmann (Challenge of the Americas), Daniel Formal (US Rotax Grand Nationals) and Joey Wimsett (Can-Am Karting Challenge) are among the three champions in 2013 gunning for the Grand Finals title. Four international drivers round out the field, gunning for the final DD2 ticket.

Veteran Alan Rudolph is searching for another victory to add to his ageless CV (Photo: seanbuur.com)

Veteran Alan Rudolph is searching for another victory to add to his ageless CV (Photo: seanbuur.com)

Similar to the regular DD2 field, the Masters group is over the 20 driver mark, with a majority looking to earn the final Grand Finals ticket. The North American contingent has a strong chance of earning the victory on the weekend, with four drivers already with Grand Finals experience. American Alan Rudolph earned his second straight trip, thanks to another Challenge of the Americas and US Rotax Grand Nationals title. Canadian Stuart Clark was among the top contenders last year in Portugal, and the Canadian Karting Champion is looking to improve that. Can-Am Karting Challenge title winner Derek Wang is in his first season in the DD2 Masters category, having been a Team USA member in DD2 previously. Veteran Mike Jones is also making a second straight trip to the Grand Finals, coming off a runner-up to Rudolph at the US championship. Scott Falcone is making his first Grand Finals appearance, thanks to the runner-up finish in the Masters Max category at the US Grand Nationals, putting four of the five Team USA members in the field. Nearly half the drivers are from outside North America, with veteran Rotax driver Christophe Adams (Belgium) among the list.

Senior Max rookie Oliver Askew is looking to carry Team USA strong this weekend and at the Grand Finals (Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.us)

Senior Max rookie Oliver Askew is looking to carry Team USA strong this weekend and at the Grand Finals (Photo: Ken Johnson – Studio52.us)

Just six drivers in the 27-kart Senior Max field have a ticket to next month’s Grand Finals, making this class one to watch with only one lucky pilot awarded with a spot to compete for the world championship. Just four international drivers fill out those vying for that ticket, with eyes on Jordon Lennox-Lamb. The UK driver is an accomplished KF and KZ driver, and current CRG factory driver. The majority are American drivers, with a long list with hopes of a Team USA bid. eKartingNews.com TaG #1 driver Louie Pagano is among the contenders, looking for a second straight trip to the Grand Finals. Jack Weprin has two wins from last weekend’s event, in the wet and the dry, and has placed himself at the top of the list. Andrew Palmer is hoping to return to Team USA for a second time as well. All eyes will be on last year’s Grand Finals champion Charlie Eastwood. The Irish pilot won in Portugal, and has been winning since, claiming the Florida Winter Tour title this past winter. Team USA members Nick Neri, Oliver Askew, Sam Beasley and Phillip Arscott will be competing as well, priming for what they hope are podium finishes next month.

The Junior Max field is the largest of the event at 36 drivers. As is the case with the other categories, the majority are from North America with less than 10 from across the globe. Twelve of those entered are locked in for the Grand Finals, including eight North Americans. The top two from the US Grand Nationals – Juan Manuel Correa and Ashley Rogero – are part of Team USA for the second straight year. Teammates Blaine Rocha and Luke Selliken earned their ticket to the Grand Finals from the Challenge of the Americas and Can-Am Karting Challenge. Jamaican Thomas Issa earned his second straight trip through the Florida Winter Tour championship, with three Team Canada drivers competing on the weekend – national champion Gianfranco Mazzaferro, Coltin McCaughan, and Jeff Kingsley.

Blaine Rocha will use the Pan-Am event to learn the ins and outs of an international event, making his first appearance with Team USA this year (Photo: seanbuur.com)

Blaine Rocha will use the Pan-Am event to learn the ins and outs of an international event, making his first appearance with Team USA this year (Photo: seanbuur.com)

Nearly half the field this weekend in the Mini Max category have already earned a spot at the Invitational next month during the Rotax Grand Finals event. Many are the top drivers from the United States, Canada and Mexico. All are looking to gain any type of advantage they can, while earning some added hardware for the trophy mantel. All three podium finishers from the US Grand Nationals are on hand – Michael d’Orlando, Enzo Fittipaldi Da Cruz, and Michael Benyahia along with Mexican Grand Nationals champ Manuel Sulaiman, who will test his skill level against the other top North American Mini Max pilots. The rest of the field is drivers looking to make one of the three podium spots and secure a ticket. David Malukas is among the top drivers not yet invited to the big stage, and is coming off a win last weekend in NOLA against similar competition.

Micro Max is similar with over 30 in the class, many of which have won at the international, national and regional level to earn at ticket to the Invitational. US champion Dylan Tavella, along with podium finishes Nicholas d’Orlando and Maxwell Waithman – will be joined by other North Americans looking to secure a spot at the Rotax Grand Finals.

A solid prize package was put in place for the Masters Max field just weeks before the event. MAXSpeed will offer up a Rotax Grand Finals VIP experience to the winner of this weekend’s event, including two flights, two VIP passes, hotel and rental car amenities included.

eKartingNews.com will be providing trackside coverage throughout the weekend, complete with daily report, top-10 results from each session posted on the Official Discussion Thread in the forums, Paddock Pass notes each day, updates coming on Facebook and Twitter, and candid photos through Instagram. Live video over Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be provided as well, with access available at GoRotax.com.

DD2 Entry List

No. Driver Country Chassis
400 Xen De Ruwe BEL CRG
401 Kevin Barbesino USA CRG
403 Michael Ilavia USA Sodi
404 CJ Cramm USA CRG
411 Fritz Leesmann USA
412 Fred Woodley CAN Maranello
416 Nathan Mauel USA CRG
418 Pier Luc Ouellette CAN CRG
419 Andreas Backman SWE Tony Kart
420 Rony Censore Pironi USA CRG
423 Alessandro Bizzotto CAN CRG
425 Gustavo Ortega CRC Tony Kart
427 Mario Iemma USA Kosmic
430 Sean Owens USA Sodi Kart
437 Daniel Formal USA Kosmic
439 Cristiano Morgado RSA
443 Kevin Ludi SUI CRG
444 Antoine Lepesqueux FRA Sodi Kart
451 Ferenc Kancsar HUN CRG
469 Joey Wimsett USA CRG
480 Fidencio Guzman MEX CRG
482 Gavin Reichelt USA CRG
491 Brendon Bain CAN Maranello

DD2 Masters Entry List

No. Driver Country Chassis
500 Jefferson Arair Muccio BRA Praga
501 Mauricio Carrillo MEX CRG
504 Mike Jones USA Sodi Kart
505 Christophe Adams BEL Birel
507 Camilo Robayo COL Praga
509 Camilo Matiz COL Praga
511 Fernando Guzzi BRA Praga
513 Brent Harper USA Kosmic
517 Andres Fonseca CRC CRG
520 Roberto Pasqualini BRA Praga
521 Francis Mondou CAN Praga
548 Juan Jaime Hernandez Macal NED CRG
555 Johannes Rodriguez USA Kosmic
556 Jim Carey USA Zanardi
561 Salvador Bortoni MEX CRG
567 Robbie Poupart USA CRG
571 Dj Ortiz USA Tony Kart
573 Igor Mukhin CRC Praga
577 Alan Rudolph USA CRG
588 Derek Wang USA Praga
597 Stuart Clark CAN Praga
598 Enrico Friso VEN Praga
599 Scott Falcone USA

Senior Max Entry List

No. Driver Country Chassis
300 Nick Neri USA Tony Kart
301 Charlie Eastwood IRL
304 Sam Beasley USA Tony Kart
311 Roger Ralston Jr USA FA Kart
312 Felipe Vargas USA Tony Kart
313 Jules Cousin FRA Sodi Kart
315 Louie Pagano USA
316 Morgan Healey USA Tony Kart
317 Jack Weprin USA FA Kart
318 Dustin Stross USA Tony Kart
320 Conner Clay USA Sodi Kart
321 Andrew Palmer USA Kosmic
323 Will Owen USA FA Kart
326 Jessica Backman SWE Tony Kart
327 Edie Rodriguez USA Tony Kart
330 Zacharie Scalzo CAN Tony Kart
338 Oliver Askew USA Tony Kart
339 Nicolas Carbon Martinez ARG AM
344 Alfredo Zabalza MEX Kosmic
345 Johnny Flute CAN Kosmic
353 Adam Dowler USA
357 Phillip Arscott USA Sodi Kart
359 Jordon Lennox ITA CRG
361 Dan Roeper USA Tony Kart
377 Nathan Kelly CAN CRG
386 Philip Morin SWE FA Kart
398 Quentin De Boever USA Tony Kart

Junior Max Entry List

No. Driver Country Chassis
200 Trenton Estep USA Tony Kart
201 Christian Munoz USA Tony Kart
202 Coltin McCaughan CAN OTK
203 Luke Selliken USA Energy
207 Michael Mc Carthy USA Birel
209 Blaine Rocha USA Energy
210 Austin Osborne USA Tony Kart
211 Thomas Preining AUT CRG
212 Mitch Mark Iv USA CRG
213 Anthony Tolfa CAN Tony Kart
214 Gianfranco Mazzaferro CAN Tony Kart
216 Jeff Kingsley CAN Tony Kart
218 Ben Auriemma USA Tony Kart
220 Ruben Grillet USA Tony Kart
221 Rinus Van Kalmthout NED Energy
222 Philip Hamprecht GER Kosmic
225 Christian Brooks USA Tony Kart
228 Kyle Kirkwood USA Tony Kart
231 Ignacio Agustin Salvucci ARG AM
232 David Ilavia USA Sodi Kart
233 Guan Yu Zhou USA Tony Kart
234 Jai Nijjar GBR Tony Kart
238 Ashley Rogero USA Tony Kart
243 Pedro Cardoso USA CRG
244 Juri Vips EST Energy
248 Mitch Goldfarb USA AM
257 Theo Chick USA Kosmic
261 Christophe Paquet CAN CRG
266 Ferdinand Habsburg AU
268 Javier Gonzalez USA Tony Kart
277 Austin Versteeg USA Kosmic
281 Haley Brown USA Kosmic
286 Juan Manuel Correa USA Energy
292 Austin Garrison USA Tony Kart
294 Thomas Issa JAM Energy
297 Adam Martin CAN Maranello

Mini Max Entry List

No. Driver Country Chassis
100 Michael Benyahia USA Tecno
105 Sergio Terife VEN AM
106 Griffin Dowler CAN Tony Kart
108 Santiago Terife VEN AM
111 Sean Groenstein USA Tony Kart
120 David Antabi USA Kosmic
122 Manuel Sulaiman MEX AM
123 Jose Alvarado USA Kosmic
129 Pierce Dawlett USA CRG
131 Sting Ray Robb USA Tony Kart
132 Trenton Sparks USA FA Kart
135 Jacob Hudson CAN Energy
139 Justin Sirgany USA Tony Kart
140 Jack William Miller USA Birel
147 Roman Deangelis CAN Tony Kart
148 Devin Boutot USA AM
150 Joseph Lamberth USA Birel
151 Mathias Ramirez USA Tony Kart
153 Riley Dickinson USA Tony Kart
155 Aidan Keel USA Birel
156 Horatio Fitz Simon USA Sodi Kart
157 Michael D Orlando USA Tony Kart
162 Braden Brown USA Tony Kart
172 Enzo Fittipaldi Da C USA Kosmic
174 Nick Brueckner USA Birel
179 David Malukas USA Birel
180 Alejandro Jaramillo USA Sodi Kart
182 Jacobo Galeano Camacho COL Tony Kart
188 Krex Frederick USA Kosmic
189 David Rafailov USA CRG
190 Joseph Sebastia Galeano Camargo Tony Kart
194 Sebastian Alvarez Arce MEX CRG
199 Parker Chase USA CRG

Micro Max Entry List

No. Driver Country Chassis
0 Allessandro Formularo
7 Danica Humphreys USA CRG
8 Hannah Greenemeier USA Arrow
9 Patrick Woods Toth USA CRG
10 Filip Niemkiewicz USA AM
11 Alessandro Famularo
14 Josh Pierson USA Tony Kart
15 Nicholas D Orlando USA Tony Kart
18 Mathew Latifi CAN Tony Kart
20 Emiliano Richards MEX CRG
21 Marcelo Garcia USA FA Kart
22 Anthony Famularo USA
27 Joshua Cunha CAN OK1
29 Daniel Steven Chaverra Palaci COL Tony Kart
32 Justin White USA Birel
37 Darcy Tallon CAN Birel
39 Xavier Harris CAN OK1
41 Dylan Tavella USA Tony Kart
45 Dillon Defonce USA FA Kart
49 Ethan Arndt USA Tony Kart
51 Jordan Novota CAN Birel
54 Sebastian Rodriguez COL Tony Kart
55 Marco Kacic CAN CRG
56 Diego Laroque USA Birel
57 Tyler Gonzalez USA AM
71 Cole Killian USA CRG
74 Aidan Harrington USA Birel
78 Harry Coulton USA Birel
81 Payton Durrant USA Birel
91 Gianpaolo Barbieri USA Kosmic
92 Maxwell Waithman USA Kosmic
99 Arturo Alcalde VEN AM

Masters Max Entry List

No. Driver Country Chassis
601 Joseph Antavi USA
606 Chris Bogart USA Tony Kart
616 Todd Meyer USA CRG
623 Michael Auriemma USA Tony Kart
630 Raul Costa USA Tony Kart
631 Orlando Munoz VEN AM
649 Justin Peck VEN Tony Kart
670 Al Vinjamur USA Tony Kart
677 Armando Watson PER Sodi Kart

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