Big Numbers for 2019 Opener at Los Angeles Karting Championship
Season begins with SKUSA Pro Tour WinterNationals warm-up at CalSpeed Karting
When the schedule for the 2019 season came out, the Los Angeles Karting Championship opener was penciled in by many of the top teams in California and throughout North America. Round One for LAKC took place on February 24 at the CalSpeed Karting facility, lining up as the perfect warm-up weekend for those teams and competitors gearing up for the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour WinterNationals, scheduled for the following weekend. Entry numbers reached the 225-mark on the day, with competitors enjoying a surprising clear, sunshine day in Fontana, California around the updated ‘Grande’ course.
The largest class of the day was the X30 Pro, featuring 41 drivers in competition. Qualifying was especially exciting, with the top-five drivers separated by just 93 thousandths as LAKC 2018 Junior champion Alan Tang shined in his Senior debut with a fast time of 52.711. 2017 SKUSA SuperNationals champion Joshua Car was fourth in that session, and worked his way to the front in the Prefinal, followed by LAKC Senior rookie Oliver Calvo. The two ran 1-2 in the Final, as Car led wire-to-wire for the victory over Calvo by 1.3 seconds. LAKC winner Dante Yu was third on the podium with Florida driver Austin Garrison fourth and Colorado pilot Hannah Greenemeier in fifth.
Calvo was double duty on the day, competing in the KA100 Senior class that reached its highest total at LAKC with 26 drivers. Calvo set fast time in qualifying and crossed the line in the Prefinal as the provisional winner, however, a penalty dropped him to second to give Jake Drew the win. The two went back and forth throughout the 18-lap Final, coming down to a race at the checkered flag. Calvo edged out Drew by 48 thousandths of a second for the victory. Nick Persing joined them on the podium in the third spot, winning the position over Austin Osborne with Alan Tang in fifth.
One driver who was able to leave the weekend as a double winner was Josh Pierson. The driver from Oregon came away with victory in X30 Junior Expert and KA100 Junior. Texan Branyon Tiner was the driver to beat early in X30 Junior Expert, setting fast time in qualifying to edge out fellow Texan John Burke by four thousandths. Pierson was third and the order remained unchanged in the Prefinal with Tiner taking the win. Tiner was forced to leave due to travel commitments of returning back to Texas for school, thus allowing Pierson to go green-to-checkered in the Final for the victory. Maximilian Opalski crossed the line in second but was penalized one position, advancing Jason Leung to the runner-up spot. Colin Queen was fourth with Dustin Salverria in fifth.
Pierson would then go on to sweep the KA100 Junior division, making its debut as part of the LAKC program. Tiner ran second to Pierson in qualifying and the Prefinal. With his travel schedule, Tiner missed the Final in this category as well. Pierson led all 18 laps of the Final, driving away to a four-second advantage. Tyler Ruth won the battle for second, plus fast lap of the race, as he edged out Ethan Ho for the runner-up position. Cole Schroeder and Ethan Lampe completed the top-five.
The weekend was also the debut for the new IAME SSE 175cc engine at the LAKC program in the new Pro Shifter 1 division. Three-time SKUSA SuperNationals winner Billy Musgrave set the stage by posting the quickest lap in qualifying, a 50.150-lap. He backed it up with a win in the Prefinal to start the main event from the pole position. Defending SKUSA Pro Tour champion AJ Myers had other ideas. Myers took over the lead on lap two of the Final, leading the rest of the way for the inaugural victory. Musgrave was second with Prescott Campbell completing the podium in third.
The S3 Novice Stock Moto division remains strong with eight drivers competing at the opening event. Last year’s third-place finisher in the championship Vicente Salas dominated Round One. Salas swept the day, leading from qualifying and all the laps in the Prefinal and Final for the victory. Connor Robles was second with Chris Nunes in the third position in their LAKC debut in the category.
It was a two-driver fight in the X30 Master division with defending champion Branden Bell and Jonathan Silva. Qualifying went to Silva as he posted a 54.545-lap to secure fast time. Bell started third and came away with the win in the Prefinal as Silva was second. Vatche Tatikian jumped out to the lead in the Final until Silva regained the top position on lap nine. From there, Silva drove away to a 1.7-second advantage for the victory over Tatikian. Bell finished third with Alex Gutierrez and Tony Rossetti rounding out the top-five.
The field was tight in the Mini Swift category, however, it was just one name at the top of the sheets in each session. Jesus Vasquez Jr. swept the opening round to begin his bid for the LAKC title. The top four were separated by just 67 thousandths of a second in qualifying with the 2018 vice-champion setting a fast time of 58.770. Vasquez then fought off Parker DeLong and the rest of the 24-kart field for the Prefinal win. Jesus then went unchallenged to lead all 18 laps for the victory in the Final. Enzo Deligny scored the second spot over DeLong with John Antonino fourth and AJ Matheson fifth.
The 13-driver Micro Swift field was swept by Graham Trammell. The Oregon driver edged out Caden Chrisman by 33 thousandths in qualifying for the fast time before going wire-to-wire in the Prefinal and Final to complete the round sweep. Chrisman took fast time in the Final to finish second ahead of Alexander Gonzalez. Truly Adams and Rocky Moran rounded out the top-five.
Other winners on the day include:
Pro Shifter 2: Justin Taylor
G1: Travis Irving
S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto: Eddie Tafoya
Open Shifter Pro: Slava Prikhodko
Open Shifter Beginner: Cash Baxley
S4 Super Master Stock Moto: Brett Harrelson
X30 Master: Brandon Holly
X30 Super Master: Jon Persing
X30 Intermediate: Ryan Carey
KA100 Super Master: John Crow
KA100 Master: Mike Smith
S5 Junior Stock Moto: Mathias Coito
Honda Kid Kart Expert: Zate Legend
Honda Kid Kart Novice: Christian Johnson
The Los Angeles Karting Championship returns with Round Two set for March 24 at the CalSpeed Karting facility. For more about the Los Angeles Karting Championship program, please visit LAKC.org and ‘Like’ them on Facebook and follow on Instagram.