Austin Versteeg Wins Cold Stone Rotax Pan American Challenge
Rolison Performance Group pilot secures first Rotax Grand Finals 2015 ticket in the world
The work of the last seven years has come to fruition for Austin Versteeg, with the 2014 season continuing to grow into his best season in karting. The Rolison Performance Group driver garnered three major titles in Rotax Max Challenge and Superkarts! USA competition, earning a spot on the prestigious Team USA squad for the ‘Olympics of Karting’ – the 2014 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. Austin traveled to the GoPro Motorplex during October 13-19 to compete in the Cold Stone Rotax Pan American Challenge 2014 event. Coming off a stellar podium run at the US Grand Nationals in July with a come-from-behind performance, momentum was on the side of Versteeg.
Prior to the event in Mooresville, North Carolina, Versteeg was honored as one of the first four recipients to the new Mazda Road to Indy/MAXSpeed Group Driver Advancement Program. Austin will be given the chance to sample a Cooper Tire USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda racing steed during a test session this winter. Recently, Austin was able to get two days aboard an IMSA Prototype Lites car, further his development as a driver.
Pre-event testing began the week of the Pan Am event with Austin sampling the same Sodi Kart chassis that will be utilized at the 2014 Rotax Grand Finals in Valencia, Spain. After getting accustom to the kart, Versteeg transferred back to the familiar RPG Kosmic kart. An adjusted schedule put qualifying later on Friday, following two warm-up sessions. Strapping on new Mojo tires, Versteeg took to the track looking to put himself in contention for the Super Pole session. Austin struggled to find grip during the 10 minute session, appearing to look as if he was suffering from a flat tire. When the checkered flag waved, Versteeg was classified in the 31st position. After reviewing the kart, it was discovered to have a defective tire. The damage was done and Austin would have to fight his way forward in the heat races.
The first of the three qualifying heats was his best, advancing all the way up to the 10th position by the end of lap 10. Austin finished 14th in the second heat race, and 16th in the last, gaining speed and more consistency with the kart. In total, Versteeg gained 53 positions over 30 laps of racing, something very similar to what he accomplished at the Cold Stone US Grand Nationals back in July.
His results placed him 13th on the grid for the Prefinal, giving him a better chance at moving closer to contention for the Final. The 16-lap pre-main saw Versteeg steadily advance his position with lap times similar to that of the leaders. At the end, he was classified seventh and set to start the main event from inside row four. At the start of the 22-lap feature, two drivers in front of him made contact, and Versteeg made the correct move to avoid getting caught up in the incident. Austin found himself in the fourth position at the completion of the opening circuit, and quickly advanced to third. Trailing the second place driver, both were able to reel in the leader after he established a solid lead on the opening lap. The final five laps decided the outcome, when the trio began shuffling for position. Versteeg put himself into the second spot, and when they received the two laps to go signal, he took his opportunity for the win. Entering turn one, Austin went deep on the brakes to reach the apex of the corner first, and came out of the corner with the lead. He established enough space to remain out front, and score the victory.
The win gave Versteeg his fourth major title of the season, following the Rotax Challenge of the Americas championship this winter, and two titles at the Rotax Can-Am ProKart Challenge including the Junior Max and S5 Junior Stock Moto crowns. It also lined Versteeg up as the first recipient of a 2015 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals ticket, courtesy of MAXSpeed Group, to ensure his position with Team USA for a second straight season.
Austin will now focus on preparing for his first trip as part of Team USA, with the 2014 edition of the Rotax Grand Final set for November 24-29 at the Kartodromo Internactional Lucas Guerrero facility outside Valencia, Spain. Austin would like to thank the entire crew at Rolison Performance Group for their guidance and amazing products throughout the season, engineer Brian Fletcher for his continuous work and professionalism in 2014, along with all the family and friends that have supported him throughout the year and his career. Visit www.austinversteeg.com.
About Austin Versteeg:
Austin Versteeg is an up-and-coming name in the world of motorsports. The young Sandy, Utah native began karting at the young age of eight, and has done big things in a short amount of time. Racing locally at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Versteeg quickly moved on to the regional and national competition level in the sport. He has competed at the Rotax Challenge of the Americas, Florida Winter Tour and the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour, finding success in each including the 2011 Mini Max FWT championship. Austin has a victory under his belt north of the border, winning at the prestigious Le Monaco de Trois-Rivieres street race. Now into his third year in the Junior division ranks, Versteeg is primed at growing into a motorsports star.