Race Report: Stars & Stripes Trophy
Rotax Grand Finals and International Trophy tickets awarded following inaugural event at Utah Motorsports Campus
A new era of Rotax racing was ushered in on the May 17-19 weekend with the new Stars & Stripes Trophy event making its debut at the Utah Motorsports Campus. J3 Competition, the northern United States distributor for Rotax products, welcomed drivers from five different countries to the Erda, Utah facility to compete in six different Rotax divisions. Changing weather situations kept the competitors and teams on the edge, with the Finals on Sunday contested in dry conditions.
Four drivers who were able to come away with victory on Sunday earned tickets to the prestigious 2019 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Italy this October. The Mini Max and Micro Max winners were awarded a paid entry to the upcoming Stars & Stripes Open event in Pittsburgh this August. The six runner-up finishers took home a paid entry to the Rotax International Trophy at LeMans Karting International in France on August 20-24. All third place finishers were awarded $1,000 voucher valid at any northern USA Rotax Service Center.
Current EKN Driver Rankings #1 TaG pilot Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) added to his successes in 2019, winning the Senior Max division. The qualifying session was the most exciting of the weekend, with the top-10 separated by less than four tenths on a wet 9/10-mile ‘Star Trek’ layout, only to have the top-six within one tenth of a second. Jacob Gulick (RPG / Kosmic) and Spencer Kunz (FA Kart) each posted the exact fast lap of the session, with Gulick awarded the pole position. Norberg was among those in the top-10, placing seventh in the session. Ending up sixth was Luke Selliken (RPG / Kosmic), who worked his way up to the lead in Heat #1. Selliken led all 10 laps for the win with Norberg crossing second, only to receive a pushback bumper penalty to drop him down to fifth. No issues in Heat #2 as Norberg jumped up to the race win and repeated in Heat #3 to close out Saturday with the pole position for the Prefinal on Sunday. Norberg led wire-to-wire in the Prefinal and 22-lap Final to secure the victory, and ticket to the RMCGF in Italy. Joseph Brienza (RPG / Kosmic) won the battle for second over Dante Yu (J3 / CompKart). Hannah Greenemeier (RPG / Kosmic) and Luke Selliken completed the top-five.
Joining Norberg on Team USA is Junior Max winner Josh Pierson (RPG / Kosmic). It was a two driver battle all weekend between he and John Burke (Supertune / Tony Kart). Pierson struck first in the wet qualifying session before Burke grabbed the win in Heat #1. Pierson was able to score the wins in both Heat #2 and Heat #3 to secure the pole position for the Prefinal. Burke took the lead early on in the 18-lap pre-main, crossing the line in first to lead the field to the green flag in the Final. The two pulled away from the field early on in the main event and decided the victory over the last few laps. They exchanged the lead numerous times with Pierson securing the top spot and reaching the checkered flag first for the RMCGF ticket. Burke settled for second with Frankie Mossman (FW / CompKart) joining them on the podium. Hallie Schroder (Ruthless / Exprit) and Rye Myers (FDM / CompKart) placed fourth and fifth.
Davide Greco became the first Canadian to earn a ticket to the 2019 Rotax Grand Finals by winning the DD2 division. Greco nearly swept the event, setting fast time in qualifying and winning the three heat races on Saturday. Kyle Apuzzo (J3 / CompKart) was able to score the win in the Prefinal to break up the perfect score for Greco, who led all 22-laps of the Final for the victory. Nathan Martin (CompKart) completed the podium in third.
Masters Max was a battle between USA and Belgium with veteran Billy Cleavelin (RPG / Kosmic) and two-time Rotax Grand Finals winner Christophe Adams (Ruthless / Exprit) going head-to-head all weekend. Adams began with fast time in qualifying, clearing the field on the wet track by over nine tenths of a second. Cleavelin found himself in third behind Chris Mann (Birel ART) in the session. Cleavelin challenged Adams in the opening heat, with Christophe scoring the win. The second heat went to Cleavelin with Adams winning again in the third moto, securing the pole position for the Prefinal. Adams had fast lap in the 18-lap race, but Cleavelin came away with the win and the pole position for the Final. Cleavelin could only grab the lead for two laps, with Adams leading the remainder of the race, scoring the victory. Mann completed the podium with Canadian Rob Kozkowski (Ruthless / Exprit) fourth and Sean Mann fifth.
Enzo Deligny (Tony Kart) had a dominating weekend in the Mini Max division, sweeping the entire event for the victory. Deligny was not taken off the P1 position all weekend, with Xander Reed (Tony Kart) placing second in all sessions. Micro Max saw Graham Trammell (Kosmic) add to his young CV, winning the category. Kaden Dosmann (CompKart) grabbed two of the heat wins after Trammell set fast time in qualifying and won the opening heat race. Trammell was able to bounce back in the Prefinal and led all 16 laps in the Final for the victory. Colin Ruess (Tony Kart) was able to Dosmann for the second spot on the podium.
J3 Competition broke down the MoJo Tire D2 and D5 – the official tire of Rotax Max Challenge competition, in their second edition of the Tire Report. The next and final opportunity for a chance to win 2019 Rotax Grand Finals tickets on USA soil is the final Rotax event of the season. The Stars & Stripes Open is scheduled for August 2-4 at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex with six more RMCGF tickets on the line, including Mini Max and Micro Max.