EKN Trackside: 2017 SKUSA Pro Tour WinterNationals – Preview Part 2

Three Master categories set to begin journey toward championship

Just 100 days since the checkered flags waved to close out the 20th edition of the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals in Las Vegas, drivers, teams and families are all preparing for the start of the 2017 season and the SKUSA Pro Tour. It is a new era for the organization with the introduction of the WinterNationals, set to make its debut at the NOLA Motorsports Park facility in New Orleans on March 3-5.

NOLA Motorsports Park was opened in 2012 as a full motorsports facility, including the 1.5-mile long kart track. The New Orleans circuit began hosting major karting events in 2012, moving onto the world stage as the site for the 2013 Rotax Grand Finals – the first time the event was held on United States soil. SKUSA regional action has visited the course in previous years, including last weekend with the Texas ProKart Challenge. This is the first ever visit by the SKUSA Pro Tour.

eKartingNews is bringing all the action live to anyone and everyone with a laptop or mobile device. Bookmark www.ekartingnews.com/live and listen in to the live play-by-play provided by the official voice of SKUSA – EKN’s own Rob Howden. Updates, photos and videos will be available throughout the weekend on the EKN social media outlets – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

X30 Master

Derek Wang will replace the #888 for the SKUSA #1 plate in X30 Master for 2017 (Photo: EKN)

It was a championship season for Derek Wang in 2016, becoming the sixth different title winner in the X30 Master category. Four podium finishes, including one at the SuperNationals, gave the entertaining driver his first SKUSA title after earning a US Rotax Grand Nationals victory earlier in the year. Now carrying the SKUSA #1 plate, Wang (BBR / FA Kart) has the target on his back.

A total of 20 drivers are hitting the NOLA circuit as the Master divisions continue to collect new racers year after year. The SKUSA Pro Tour in 2016 saw five different main event winners. One of them – Mario Barrios – is set to add to his win total in 2017. Barrios (BBR / PDB) scored the Round Four victory at New Castle, which has very similar characteristics to the NOLA course. Former California ProKart Challenge winner Carlos Calderon is making his Pro Tour debut in the category. The Aluminos driver is making the long trek to New Orleans, entering as a possible contender.

Other new names to the class that may surface include BBR Karting’s own Blake Choquer (PDB). The driver from British Columbia, Canada has a ton of knowledge both on and off the track, and could be among those in contention throughout the weekend. Sticking with team owners, Shawn Bayliff of Trinity Karting Group is strapping on the helmet. The owner for the karting operation in the Cincinnati area is taking the team to the national level in 2017, including the SKUSA Pro Tour and many other major events along the east coast. Others to watch include former SKUSA #3 plate holder Vatche Tatikian (PGR / Ricciardo) along with locals John Robicheaux (Exprit) and Luis Zervigon (Birel ART).

Provisional X30 Master Entry List

No. Driver Team Chassis Hometown
011f Mario Barrios BBR Karting PDB Miami Beach FL
81j Shawn Bayliff Trinity Karting Group Tony Kart Batavia OH
8y Carlos Calderon Aluminos Aluminos San Jose CA
5n Kim Carapellatti Carapellatti Racing PCR Cuba NY
43n Scot Carapellatti Carapellatti Racing FK Kart Olean NY
144r Blake Choquer BBR Karting PDB Langley BC
52c Travis Irving Formula Works CompKart Norco CA
82j Laurentiu Mardan KartCraft / Pole Position Inc Kosmic Arlington Heights IL
497j Paul Meise Trinity Karting Group Tony Kart Cincinnati OH
377t Miguel Mier Dallas Karting Complex (DKC) / SodiKart USA Sodi Kart Frisco TX
517t DJ Ortiz KRS Tony Kart Plano TX
6j Roman Padans Franklin Motorsports Merlin Madison WI
613g John Robicheaux Exprit Gulfport MS
15t Jesus Robles-Torrado Orsolon Racing Benik San Antonio TX
55k Jonathan Silva Formula Works / Extreme Karting CompKart Corona CA
77x Vatche Tatikian Phil Giebler Racing (PGR) Ricciardo Altadena CA
576y Jason Vince TJV Racing Arrow Henderson NV
28j Cristian Vomir Kosmic Hoffman Estates IL
N1 Derek Wang BBR Karting FA Kart Kirkland WA
800g Luis Zervigon PSL Karting Birel ART New Orleans LA

S4 Master Stock Honda

Ryan Kinnear will defend the Murley trophy in S4 (Photo: On Track Promotions – otp.ca)

Ryan Kinnear is looking to make history in 2017, by becoming the first driver to defend the crown in the S4 Master division. The 2016 champion will carry the SKUSA #1 plate this season aboard his Champion Racing / Intrepid machine, vying to repeat as the title winner. Jimmy McNeil is the only two-time champ in the category, winning in 2011 and 2015. Kinnear beat him and a host of others for the championship, and looking to add to his growing Master resume.

Beginning his Master career is longtime Colorado driver Ben Schermerhorn. The Birel ART driver is making the transition from S2 to S4, primed to give Kinnear a run for his money. 2016 X30 Master SuperNationals winner Renato David was the quickest driver in the SuperSunday main event in S4, and the native Brazilian is set to contest for the victories in NOLA. Justin Bennett (MRC / Aluminos) is another contender along with Victor Jimenez (RPG / Tony Kart).

Provisional S4 Entry List

No. Driver Team Chassis Hometown
5y Justin Bennett Musgrave Racing Company (MRC) Aluminos San Ramon CA
521n Patrick Cecilian Formula K Flemington NJ
250a Renato David Birel ART Orlando FL
823m Victor Jimenez Rolison Performance Group Tony Kart Miami FL
N1 Ryan Kinnear Champion Racing Intrepid Richmond TX
05t Alvaro Pelaez Diaz Core Karting CRG Coppell TX
255d Ben Schermerhorn Birel ART Highlands Ranch CO
021t Nathan Stewart CRG Flower Mound TX

S4 Super Master Stock Honda

Robert Marks – the inaugural S4 Super Master champion – is set to defend his crown in 2017 (Photo: EKN)

The inaugural season for the S4 Super Master division was a success with nearly just as many drivers in the Super Master category as there was in the regular S4. Heading into NOLA, there will be more over 45-year-old drivers competing, with 15 slated to start at the inaugural WinterNationals. All three SKUSA plate holders are going to be in attendance in New Orleans to open up the second championship season for the class.

2016 champion Robert Marks is proudly carrying the SKUSA #1 plate for the 2017 season, earning the title along with a SuperNationals victory. Nick Firestone and Rod Clinard gave Marks a great challenge throughout the season and in Las Vegas. Both are looking to do better as the new season begins. Marks is always fast at tracks require that extra little bit of power, and his CRG will be one to watch. Firestone has shown the DR Kart to be a strong package as well, and Clinard is set to begin his second Pro Tour season under the CRG Nordam banner.

A number of new names are jumping into Super Master class. John Crow made the move at the SuperNationals, standing on the podium following SuperSunday. Now the MRC / Aluminos driver is making the full move over from X30 Master to the six-speed class for 2017. Mike Jones is a former SuperNationals frontrunner in S4 and multiple champion in Rotax Masters competition. Now, the Dallas Karting Complex / SodiKart USA co-owner is jumping into the elder division. Also watch for TB Kart USA’s own Farshad Bagheri along with east coast driver Byron Rothenhoefer (Formula K) to challenge for podium positions.

Provisional S4 Super Master Entry List

No. Driver Team Chassis Hometown
155f Farshad Bagheri TB Kart USA TB Kart St. Petersburg FL
104x Levi Bennett PKS Kart Supplies / Team Visalia CRG Visalia CA
N3 Rod Clinard CRG Nordam CRG Hewitt TX
31c John Crow Musgrave Racing Company (MRC) Aluminos Anaheim CA
N2 Nick Firestone DRT Racing DR Kart Paradise Valley AZ
100t Mike Jones Dallas Karting Complex (DKC) / SodiKart USA Sodi Kart Union Valley TX
36c Warren Kindberg Musgrave Racing Company (MRC) Praga Villa Park CA
124k Jeff Krogstad CRG Lancaster CA
N1 Robert Marks PKS Kart Supplies / Team Visalia CRG Visalia CA
68t Venkat Reddy Core Karting CRG Flower Mound TX
122q Michael Rivera CKR CKR North Haven CT
13s Byron Rothenhoefer Formula K Leesburg VA
21x Ken Schilling Aluminos Aluminos Stanton CA
102x Darrell Tunnell PKS Kart Supplies / Team Visalia CRG Visalia CA
994y Kevin Woods Ron White Racing CRG Newark CA

EKN Global Members Discussion: