EKN Trackside: SKUSA SuperNationals 22 – SuperSunday Report
Musgrave and Cooper add to win total as Lorandi steals the $10k
There is no other event, no other day like SuperSunday at the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals. For the 22nd time, karters from around the world converged on Las Vegas and the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino to tackle the temporary circuit to etch their names in the record books. Ten categories battled around the near 8/10-mile course all week long, leading up to the main events with perfect weather conditions. Complimented by the outstanding live coverage on the SKUSA Facebook page, many will argue this was the best SuperNats ever!
The day began with the X30 Junior class hitting the track first, led by 2017 winner Jak Crawford (Nash / FA Kart). Crawford jumped out to a solid lead early as the field battled for second behind him. SKUSA #3-plate holder Jeremy Fairbairn (Supertune / Tony Kart) started the race in 12th thanks to a DNF in Heat #2 after winning his first heat. Fairbairn showed the pace to battle all week, and it continued in the main event. The Florida driver advanced up to the second spot by lap four and began the run to catch Crawford. It took just eight laps before Fairbairn caught and took over the lead from Crawford. That was the winning move as Crawford kept it close, but not close enough to try and retake the position. Fairbairn crossed the line, celebrating his first SuperNationals victory to become the 11th different winner in the category. Crawford was second across the line, however, a broken seal in tech gave him a one position penalty. That promoted Italian Gabrielle Mini (Parolin) to the runner-up position as he beat out Luca Mars (SCR / Tony Kart) and Connor Zilisch (LAK / Tony Kart) to the line. Great drives were put in by Justin Arseneau (PSL / Birel ART) and Jace Denmark-Gessel (RPM / Tony Kart) as they climbed 14 and 15 positions to place eighth and ninth, behind top qualifier Tymoteusz Kucharczyk (Baby / Parolin) and Texan John Burke (IRM / Tony Kart). CRG factory driver Kas Haverkort completed the top-10.
Heading into the SuperNationals, it was expected to be a wild main event in the Mini Swift category. Five different drivers won during the heat races, with a sixth earning fast time in qualifying. Jack Jeffers (Benik) won twice and started the main event from P4, dropping outside the top-10 on the opening lap and finished 12th. Kai Sorensen (Tony Kart) won his third heat, and secured the pole position for the Final with top qualifier and two-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Carson Morgan (Kart Republic) on the outside. Sorensen led the first 11 laps with Nikita Johnson (Energy) on his bumper. They broke away until two-time IAME International Final winner Brent Crews (Nitro Kart) and Morgan closed in. Crews took over the lead on lap 13, but the battle continued to be the leader. Crews led at the stripe each time heading into the final lap, losing it in a portion of the track before retaking it just before hitting the loop. On the final circuit, Johnson dove inside at turn one to take the lead from Crews. He came back in turn four, as they went nearly three wide with Jamaican Alex Powell (Energy) coming inside of both on the exit. Johnson lifted, and Crews launched over the turn five curb to avoid contact from Powell. Never lifting, Crews held the inside line into turn six, securing the lead. Johnson retook the challenger position, but Crews was too strong down the long back straight. Crews ran the inside line, and Johnson tried the cross-over, coming up 67 thousandths short at the line. Powell won the fight for third with 2018 SKUSA Pro Tour vice-champion Jace Park (Parolin) climbing up 12 spots to steal fourth in the final circuit. Sorensen capped off the top-five with William Macintyre (Benik) and Morgan completing the lead group at the checkered flag. Diego LaRoque was eighth in his Nitro Kart debut, placing ahead of Brandon Carr (Benik) and Vinicius Tessaro (Kart Mini), who recorded the fast lap of the race.
SKUSA Pro Tour Micro Swift champion Max Garcia (Kart Republic) led the field down to the green flag for their 18-lap main event. Ethan Ayars (Parolin) started alongside him, but was shuffled back in the opening corners. Ben Maier (Nitro Kart), Cameron Brinkman (Merlin) and Tristan Young (Nitro Kart) emerged as the contenders behind Garcia in the lead pack. It was Maier however that came around leading the quartet for the first lap and did so till the closing laps. Brinkman was the quickest driver on the track, and the only one to really challenge Maier. The two swapped the lead a few times until the white flag waved and Brinkman led to begin the final circuit. Not running the defensive line into turn four, Maier took the opportunity to strike and grabbed the lead. Maier diving to the inside heading into turn six negated any chance from Brinkman to pull off the over-under. Brinkman tried one last time, getting in the draft of Maier heading to the final corner. A slingshot at the finish line was not enough, with Maier crossing the line as the victor, earning his first SuperNats title and fifth SKUSA win of the season counting the Winter Series and Pro Tour. Brinkman came up nine hundredths of a second short, in what is his career best finish in SKUSA competition. Garcia beat Young for the third spot, while Caleb Gafrarar (Parolin) recovered from his mechanical in qualifying to complete the podium after starting the main event in 14th. Ivanna Richards (Tony Kart) was sixth, with Kristian Janev (Benik), Logan Julien (Merlin), Ayars and Cameron Weinberg (Nitro Kart) completing the top-10. Hard charger went to Enzo Vidmontiene (Tony Kart) as the Brazilian climbed 20 spots to 18th.
The racing all week in the X30 Senior division was amazing. Close, hard-fought, and very clean by some of the best drivers from around the world fighting to add their name to the list of winners. Becoming the 16th name to win the category at the SuperNationals is Ben Cooper. The UK native that now resides in Canada put forth an effort to win thanks to Rolison Performance Group owner Mike Rolison providing a chance for him to compete in Las Vegas. Cooper was among the contenders from the beginning, improving from his 18th in qualifying to record top-five results in all three heat races and land fifth on the grid. RPG teammates and fellow Canadians Cedrik Lupien and Samuel Lupien started first and fourth with 2018 World Karting Champion Lorenzo Travisanutto (Kart Republic) in second and top qualifier Christian Brooks (Kosmic) in third. In total, there were nine official lead changes in the 25 laps. Those who led the most were Cooper and Travisanutto.
Cooper led majority of the first half, while the reigning world champ wanted to control things in the second portion. The Rosberg Racing / KartSport North America driver led at the white flag with Brooks slotted in as the lead challenger ahead of roughly 10 others. Travisanutto ran the defensive line into turn four, however, Brooks used the curbing to try for an even tighter run around the corner. They made contact and drifted wide, which allowed Cooper to take over the lead. That was the winning move, as Cooper held off Barbados’ Zane Maloney (KSNA / Kart Republic) at the line by 61 thousandths of a second. Cedrik Lupien came away in third with Brooks in fourth. The contact with Travisanutto was deemed to be ‘avoidable contact’, and was handed a 10-position penalty to drop him off the podium. Brazilian Matheus Morgatto (Tony Kart) slipped through the chaotic last lap, promoted to fourth in his Senior debut. The penalty also put Ryan Macdermid (Prime / Birel ART) onto the podium in fifth, carrying the #6 for his mentor Robert Wickens. Travisanutto ended up sixth with 2016 winner Jake Craig (RPM / Tony Kart) in seventh. 2016 World Karting Champion Pedro Hiltbrand was eighth, ahead of fellow CRG Nordam driver Olin Galli and Brazilian Guilherme Peixoto (Tony Kart). Swiss driver Miklas Born (RPG / Kosmic) came from the last chance qualifier on Saturday night, starting 38th and climbing up to 19th for the hard charger award.
The inaugural KA100 Junior main event was a duel between Australia and the United States. The two countries that primarily run the new IAME 100cc powerplant were represented in the lead duo that featured James Wharton (KSNA / Kart Republic) and Connor Zilisch (LAK / Tony Kart). The two went back and forth throughout the 20-lap contest, pulling away from the field early before fighting it out for the victory. Wharton led at the white flag with Zilisch giving everything he had. They criss-crossed numerous times on the final circuit, with Wharton holding the edge at the line by 34 thousandths of a second. Kaden Wharff (Top Kart) won the battle for third ahead of Dylan Christie (MDR / Kosmic) with Bryson Morris (Comet / Kart Republic) in fifth. A group behind them fight for the sixth spot, with Donald Whorton II (FA Kart) getting the spot over Oliver Calvo (PKC / Parolin), who was in the running for the IKF/SKUSA Triple Crown $10,000 should he have won on SuperSunday. Calvo however was removed from the results for ‘non-complaint tires’. That moved Kyffin Simpson (SCR / Tony Kart) to seventh with Alan Tang (PKS / Parolin), Luca Mars (SCR / Tony Kart) and Garrett Adams (Comet / FA Kart) completing the top-10.
The winning move of the Master Shifter category was the holeshot, completed with perfection by Rob Logan (Nash / CRG). The SoCal ‘legend’ did what took nine years to complete, winning the SuperNationals. Logan set the bar with fast time in qualifying and winning the first two heat races. Despite placing fourth in Heat #3, Logan retained the pole position for the main event, and nailed the start to jump out to a big lead in the opening lap. While not the quickest laps of the race, Logan was consistent, dropping times within two tenths of each other over the course of 20 laps to establish a 2.4-second advantage by the checkered flag. Three drivers fought for runner-up behind him, with last year’s winner Ryan Kinnear (PGR / Ricciardo) grabbing fast lap and the position over Aussie Jason Faint (DKC / Sodi Kart) and three-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Jordon Musser (3G / Birel ART). SKUSA Pro Tour S4 Super Master Pro Tour champion John Crow (MRC / Aluminos) had a great start to begin the race in third, dropping back to running solo in fifth. Nathan Stewart (DKC / Sodi Kart) was sixth over Tiffany Hamilton (Aluminos) – her best finish in five starts at the SuperNats. Last year’s Super Master winner Mike Jones (DKC / Sodi Kart) was provisionally eighth, dropping to 13th because of a five-position penalty for contact. That moved Nick George (Aluminos) up to the spot ahead of three-time SuperNats winner Jimmy McNeil (PKS / Aluminos) and Terry Lawrence (CKR USA).
The $10,000 and the KZ victory was in the hands of Marjin Kremers (PSL / Birel ART). The pole sitter grabbed the holeshot and jumped out to a big lead. The driver to watch however was Leonardo Lorandi (Baby / Parolin), who charged his way forward from sixth on the grid to second. Lap 15, a red flag came out for a hard wreck by Tyler Coffman (FA Kart). This eliminated the 2.5-second gap that Kremers had established. During the red flag, three-time winner Paolo De Conto (CRG) had worked up to ninth after starting 14th. The world champ was removed from the race however for working on kart during red flag, along with 2002 winner Ron White (RWR / CRG). The race was restarted and Lorandi took advantage, striking on the second lap in turn six. From there, Lorandi led the rest of the way to score the victory. Kremers could only watch, unable to attack and see the $10,000 disappear. Maximilian Paul (DRT / DR Kart) drove to third with heat race winner Noah Milell (RPG / Tony Kart) in fourth. Kyle Wick (CRG) finished as the top USA driver, landing on the podium in his KZ debut. He was followed by Jake French (DKC / Sodi Kart), Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello (NF / Tony Kart) and 1998 SuperNats winner Matt Jaskol (CRG). Danilo Dirani (CRG) grabbed the hard charger award, up 17 spots to ninth while King of the Streets winner Rory van der Steur (Tony Kart) rounded out the top-10.
Four drivers established themselves as the contenders in the inaugural KA100 Senior fight. Pole sitter Dakota Pesek (Top Kart) was joined by Heat #1 winner Josh Hotz (FMS / Merlin), Colton Ramsey (Innovative / Exprit), and Steven Barros (PKS / Tony Kart). They swapped position numerous times over the 20-lap run. With two laps remaining, Hotz was leading with Pesek waiting for the opportunity to strike. Barros dove inside of Pesek at turn 10. The two went for the same exit point, and Pesek brushed the wall and was collected by the plastic, ending his run at the victory. It left just three, with Barros in the lead challenge position. Hotz ran a defensive line through the final lap, but left enough room as Pesek did in turn 10. Barros took the lead and ran the train down to the final corner. Hotz looked, but was not up alongside him enough to reach the apex first. Barros would cross the line as the victor, becoming the inaugural KA100 Senior winner at the SuperNationals. While Hotz crossed the line second, he was given a five-second penalty for jumping the start. That promoted Ramsey to the second spot and only put Hotz down to third. Aussie Scott Foster (KSNA / FA Kart) was fourth with Tomas Mejia (PKS / Tony Kart) up from 21st to fifth, however, a pushback bumper penalty dropped him to 10th in the final results. That promoted Nick Ramirez (Fullerton) to the final step on the podium ahead of Pauly Massimino (KSNA / Kart Republic), Neil Alberico (PKS / Tony Kart), Austin Osborne (IRM / Kosmic) and Stephen Dial (CompKart).
It took until SuperSunday for Kip Foster (KSNA / KF Kart) to be challenged in the X30 Master class. The top qualifier led 35 of the 36 laps in his three heat races, looking to dominate the 20-lap main event. USA driver Matt Johnson (Nash / FA Kart) challenged early with a large lead group that included two-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Derek Wang (BBR / FA Kart) and Aussie Jason Burns (RPG / Kosmic). Their fight for second on lap 13 put Wang into the wall and Johnson off the course half a lap later, ending their bid for the podium. This fighting gave Foster a sizable lead. Burns would run fast laps of the race to close up, but not enough to challenge as Foster would secure his third SuperNationals victory. 2016 winner Renato David (Orsolon / Tony Kart) was third with the provisional podium including two-time winner Billy Cleavelin (RPG / Kosmic) and Scott Saunders (DRT / DR Kart). Cleavelin was assessed a pushback bumper penalty to drop outside the top-10 while Saunders had a two position penalty for blocking. This put Laurentiu Mardan (Tecno Kart) into fourth and veteran Luis Schiavo (SVK / Tony Kart) into fifth. Jess Peterson (PGR / Ricciardo) was put to sixth ahead of Saunders while Carlos Calderon (Aluminos), Gustavo Carreira (Kosmic) and Bruno Martins (NF / CRG) completing the top-10.
Once the lights went out to begin the 25-lap Pro Shifter main event, all 49 challengers were chasing pole sitter Billy Musgrave (MRC / Aluminos). The defending winner never relinquished the lead, driving away to his third career SuperNationals victory. Musgrave grabbed the holeshot with SKUSA Pro Tour champion AJ Myers (Mad Croc) trailing. Musgrave posted fast laps of the race to establish as solid lead with Myers unable to match, with the two well out front of the rest of the field to finish 1-2. For the fourth straight year, Kiwi Matt Hamilton (Aluminos) landed on the podium, placing third ahead of two-time winner Danny Formal (LEM / Formula K). Kyle Wick (CRG Nordam) completed a two-podium performance on the day, placing fifth. Last year’s provisional S2 winner Jason Pettit (Aluminos) was inside the top-five early, dropping down to sixth ahead of 2013 winner Joey Wimsett (DRT / DR Kart). Mathias Ramirez gave GFC a top-10 result, placing eighth ahead of Kristijan Habulin (TB Kart) and Collin Daley (DRT / DR Kart). Max Hewitt (CRG Nordam) grabbed hard charger, climbing 20 spots to end up 13th.
With the Pro Shifter category running under the Las Vegas lights on SuperSunday, the SKUSA SuperNationals 22 came to a close. For those not part of the 10 drivers to claim the top of the podium, the plan to return for a bid at victory outside the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino begins now. Those lucky to celebrate a SuperNationals victory, it is a year of honor to be a winner before the attention turns to repeating on November 24, 2019.