Successful First Event in Lake Elsinore for California ProKart Challenge
Musgrave jumps back to winning ways as Nekeel paces TaG Senior field around ‘SuperNats’ course
Over 120 racers took part in the first ever California ProKart Challenge event on a temporary circuit in Lake Elsinore, California (Photo: dromophotos.com)
The California ProKart Challenge hosted the first of its two temporary circuit events to close out the 2014 championship series on September 5-6 in Lake Elsinore, California. Held in a large parking lot of the Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium, the fifth round of the Superkarts! USA regional program experienced extremely warm weather, and even hotter racing. The course laid out by the series was a replica of the circuit set for the SKUSA SuperNationals XVIII in November outside the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Over 120 drivers competed at the first-time venue, providing an exciting day of clean racing on a fast track for the nine categories.
“I can’t thank our hard-working SKUSA staff enough – and of course all of our teams and racers – for a perfect first event at Lake Elsinore,” stated Superkarts! USA’s CEO Tom Kutscher. “This was our second-straight temporary circuit, and despite a repeat of hot California weather, our competitors kept the racing safe, fast and fun to watch all day long. The people of Lake Elsinore were great, and we look forward to the upcoming Streets of Lancaster in just two weeks, along with the SuperNationals in November.”
Qualifying was a close affair in the Mike Manning Karting TaG Senior class, with four drivers clocking in a fast time within 45 thousandths of a second, battling for the pole position. Rookie Senior driver Brenden Baker was the quickest of the 19-driver field, posting a 47.023-lap time. Pro Tour point leader Jake Craig and Pacific Northwest driver Stepanova Nekeel were three and four thousandths off that time, with California PKC championship leader Austin Elliott in fourth – making his first start since breaking a collar bone at the SummerNationals. Nekeel fell to fourth at the start of Heat #1, but fought his way forward with fast laps of the race to score the nine-lap race win. Heat #2 was another battle, involving Baker, Craig and Andrick Zeen. Nekeel was the quickest driver once again and edged out the others for the win. During the main event, Nekeel found himself once again under attack early. Zeen put himself into the lead, with Nekeel back to fourth for a time. As the race progressed, Nekeel moved forward with fast laps of the race and eventually ran down Zeen. Taking over the lead on lap 17, Nekeel went on to score the victory in his first series start of the season. Baker slipped past Zeen on the final lap for the runner-up position, with Craig in fourth and Elliott in fifth.
Vemme Kart/Extreme Karting S1 Pro Stock Moto point leader Billy Musgrave added his third win of the season at Lake Elsinore. Ryon Beachner was able to edge out Musgrave for the fast time in qualifying, posting a 45.142-second lap, better by just two hundredths over the championship leader. Musgrave grabbed the point in the opening heat race, scoring the win and continued to show the way in the second heat. Musgrave went wire-to-wire in the 20-lap main event for his third victory of the season. Colorado driver Sabré Cook drove to the runner-up position, with Jimmy McNeil completing the podium. Cody Hodgson was fourth, with Beachner ending up fifth.
It appeared to be a Jarred Campbell sweep in the Phil Giebler Racing S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto class. Campbell was the quickest Stock Moto kart in qualifying, besting all the S1 drivers, to post a 45.135-second lap. Campbell battled with S1 leader Billy Musgrave in the two heat races, taking the wins in the S2 category. Campbell continued to mix it up with the S1 drivers in the main event until he fell victim to mechanical issues. That moved Vivek Tandon and Curtis Paul Jr. into the fight for the victory. They eventually would be joined by championship leader Kolton Griffin, who started dead last. By lap nine, Griffin was in the mix and began laying down the plan for the lead. By lap 14, the top spot was his as Griffin pulled out to a 1.7-second victory, his third of the season. Paul won the runner-up position, with Tandon in third. Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix Scholarship driver Carter Williams was fourth, with Jack Freese in fifth.
2 Wild Karting’s S4 Master Stock Moto point leader Darren Elliott jumped back to his winning ways, completing his second on-track sweep of the season. Elliott was the quickest in qualifying by two tenths of a second, and then transitioned that into two heat wins. Rob Logan kept the pressure on throughout the day, running second with each session, even securing the fast lap honors in the main event. Elliott took the feature victory by three tenths of a second over Logan, with Willy Musgrave completing the podium. Robert Marks was fourth in his third start of the season, with Mike Mantel fifth in his second start of 2014.
Nicky Hays was another driver to record a sweep in Lake Elsinore, showing the way in the Sunshine Daydream Creations S5 Junior Stock Moto class. Hays, a runner-up in the last two rounds of the California PKC program, set the fast lap in qualifying, then won both heat races comfortably. Hays then went flag-to-flag in the 20-lap feature race, scoring the victory by 1.4 seconds ahead of point leader Christian Brooks. Callum Smith finished third in his series debut, with Jack von Quilich and newcomer Henry Morse completing the top-five.
The third driver on the weekend to sweep their category on the weekend was Ethan Wilson in the Leading Edge Motorsports TaG Master category. Wilson’s near perfect day helped to put the former Pro Tour champion into the point lead. A 47.815-second lap was best in qualifying to top the 13 driver field. Wilson led all nine laps of Heat #1, but was challenged by Anthony Honeywell and Richie Hearn in Heat #2. By lap eight, he put himself back into the lead and scored the race win. Wilson led all 18 laps of the feature for his second victory of the year. Kevin Manning closed up with fast laps of the race to end in the runner-up spot, with Honeywell completing the podium. Hearn was fourth, with Robert Switzler fifth in his series debut.
The Nash Motorsportz S3 Novice Stock Moto division welcomed another strong field of eight drivers in Lake Elsinore. Steve Wetterau set the pace during the qualifying session, but Cris Araujo came through to win both heat races. Araujo and Wetterau were at the front of the class in the main event until contact on lap nine sent both to the tail of the field. That allowed Kalvin Chen to take over the lead, and go on to score his first victory of the season. Robert Heck Jr. – in his first weekend graduating up from S5 Junior – finished second, with Cory Ormonde third as each earned their first ever PKC podium finish. Araujo fought back to fourth, with Wetterau fifth.
Phillippe Denes earned his first Buddy Rice Karting TaG Junior feature win of the season. Four drivers qualified within 53 thousandths of a second. Hunter Kelly was the quickest, with point leader Christian Brooks, Ethan Barrett, and Anthony Sawyer making up the top-four. Kelly and Brooks split the heat race wins after two hard-fought battles. Kelly and Brooks ran 1-2 for the first half of the 20-lap main event, until the shuffling for the win began. Brooks took a turn at the point before Denes led for a few laps. Justice Lepe had his turn until Brooks returned to the point. On the final lap, Denes went from third to first, taking the checkered flag first. Brooks ended up second, with Lepe on the third step of the podium. Michael Avansino was fourth, with Kelly in the fifth position.
The victory came down to just two in the 27-driver Pure Karting TaG Cadet category, with Jagger Jones winning in a photo finish over Dante Yu. In qualifying, four drivers finished the timed session with a fast lap within 82 thousandths of each other. Yu was the fastest, with point leader Trey Brown second, Oliver Calvo third and Myles Farhan fourth. Jones was eighth in the lineup. Ryan Schartau took the checkered flag first in Heat #1, with Yu coming from sixth all the way to first by the 10th lap of Heat #2, edging out Jones by 22 thousandths. Yu, Jones and Brown exchanged the lead at least six times over the 15-lap main event, with Jones able to beat Yu to the line by 42 thousandths of a second. Tomas Mejia completed the podium, with Brown fourth and Calvo fifth. An exciting group of Rookies joined the rest of the TaG Cadets on track for the event, with newcomer Shea Weston earning the top step of the podium over Jullian Busick and PKC first-timer Dakota Tate.
The California ProKart Challenge will close out the 2014 season at the growing Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix on September 26-28. Entry for the sixth annual event is now open at the SKUSAstore.com webpage with event information available in the California PKC section. For more info on anything related to Superkarts! USA, please visit the website – www.superkartsusa.com – or call the SKUSA head office at 951-491-0808.