EKN Trackside – SKUSA Winter Series – AMR 1 Saturday Report
Benoit, Lemke and Sorensen grab big wins to start the 2021 season
The KA100 battle between Brandon Lemke, Hannah Greenemeier, and Arias Deukmedjian was one of the best of the day
(Photo: On Track Promotions)
It’s been over four months since the Superkarts! USA staff was trackside for one of their national events, going all the way back to the Pro Tour SummerNationals in August at New Castle Motorsports. When the calendar turned over to a new year, SKUSA pressed the reset button and packed up their circus at its Temecula, CA headquarters and headed east for the fourth edition of their Winter Series at AMR Homestead-Miami Motorplex Presented by MG Tires. The opening round of the two-weekend, four-event series was completed on Saturday under ideal weather conditions in south Florida, and multi-time SKUSA champion Ryan Norberg looked to have stolen the show in the X30 Senior main event, coming from 12th on the grid to score the win. A pushback bumper penalty dropped him to fourth, and elevated Aaron Benoit (Tony Kart) to the big victory. In the KA100 Senior class, Brandon Lemke (Merlin) emerged with the win in a thrilling battle with Hannah Greenemeier (Kosmic), while Kai Sorensen (Parolin) notched his first SKUSA victory with a strong performance in X30 Junior. All in all, penalties played quite the role in the overall outcome.
Norberg was on his game from the get-go, timing in second to Alessandro de Tullio (Parolin) in Rolison Performance Group X30 qualifying, but all did not go perfectly for the four-time Pro Tour champ. Norberg bolted away from the grid for the Prefinal and led the field for an additional pace lap, and was handed with a 10-second penalty for ‘manipulating the start’. This dropped him to 12th for the start of the 22-lap final, but he was quickly on the move, advancing forward to take the lead on lap 15. Arias Deukmedjian (Kart Republic) was all over Norberg during the final laps and was primed to pounce on the final circuit. With the leader running the defensive lines through the hairpins, Deukmedjian got a strong run out of the second hairpin to pull slightly ahead of Norberg heading to the left-hand turn 10. Deukmedjian was on the outside and tried to move to the apex, but it appeared as though Norberg still had a significant position and contact was made. Deukmedjian went off-track as Norberg continued on to the win, and he then came back on-track in what the officials deemed an unsafe manner.
What happened from there is a little unclear to us at EKN, but the resulting contact between Deukmedjian and de Tullio heading to turn 10 and 11 set up for a disappointing end. De Tullio slowed on the frontstretch and appeared to wait for Deukmedjian, pointed him by on the right, and then swerved into the Kart Republic driver, sending them both off to the inside of the track. Two cameramen narrowing avoided contact, as did the starter’s stand. Deukmedjian was penalized 10 seconds for ‘unsafe re-entry’ to the track which caused the contact with de Tullio, while the latter was DQ’d from the entire weekend for the contact with Deukmedjian.
The aftermath of this chaos, including Norberg’s pushback bumper penalty, advanced Benoit to the win and moved Nick Ramirez (EOS) to second. Sebastian Montoya (Tony Kart) jumped from sixth to third, while Norberg eventually slotted into fourth. SKUSA Pro Tour X30 champ Bryson Morris (Kosmic) completed the top-five.
The PSL Karting Pro Shifter class was a three-driver fight from qualifying onward, led by Alan Isambard (Parolin). The Florida driver edged shifter rookie Brent Crews (Formula K) and Davide Greco (Birel ART) in qualifying, and then paced the 12-lap heat despite the fact that Crews set the fast lap. In the main event, Crews took the lead from Isambard on lap five and held his challenger at bay all race. Isambard made a passing attempt in turn four on the penultimate lap and rode up the back of Crews, ending his day in the infield. Crews was able to continue on to the win, and the incident elevated Greco to second ahead of Baylor Griffin. Pierce Baldus (Formula K) finished fourth.
The Masters Shifter battle was waged between Bermuda’s Scott Barnes (Intrepid) and Florida’s Freddy Rhemrev (CRG). Rhemrev was the quicker of the two in all three sessions, but Barnes used his launch at starts to take the class lead in both the Prefinal and Final. In the Prefinal, Rhemrev was able to track Barnes down and pass him for the lead and win in the second hairpin, but in the Final, it was a different story. With Barnes getting the holeshot, Rhemrev dropped to the tail of the field on the start and needed to overtake the over three karts in the field before he set after the leader. Rhemrev’s times were about a half-second quicker than Barnes, but despite reeling him in, he just could find a way past over the final laps.
Barnes used all of his 20+ year experience to keep his challenger at bay, and ended up scoring the victory. Rhemrev finished second, while Ken Schilling (Aluminos) out-battled Amr Sinada (Magik) for the final step on the podium Bryan Smith (CKR) rounded out the top-five.
Rolison Performance Group’s Hannah Greenemeier (Kosmic) got off to a solid start in the Haase Karts KA100 Senior class, edging Franklin Motorsports’ Brandon Lemke (Merlin) for the pole by just 0.013 second. The top-four, consisting of Greenemeier, Lemke, Zanella Racing’s Arias Deukmedjian (Kart Republic) and Team Ferris Racing’s Thomas Annunziata (Kosmic), were separated in qualifying by just 0.082 seconds.
Lemke got the jump on Greenemeier in the Prefinal and was able to edge her for the win, and he then led early in the Final. Lemke and Greenemeier pulled away with Deukmedjian in the hunt, but Hannah took the lead to pace 16 laps. She held a slight advantage on Lemke on the final circuit, but the Merlin driver attacked in the turn eight hairpin to take over the spot, and even with an almost ideal over-under, Greenemeier just couldn’t retake the lead through the remaining corners. Lemke went on for the win while Deukmedjian slipped past Hannah as well to steal second. Nick Ramirez (EOS) and Annuziata capped the top-five. Annuziata’s drive was stellar, as he bounced back from a Prefinal issue to power up from 27th to fifth over the 22 laps.
Kai Sorensen (Parolin) made his return to SKUSA competition, and it was also his debut in the Speed Concepts X30 Junior class. The 2019 SKUSA Pro Tour and Winter Series Mini Swift champion hit the ground running, qualifying P1 ahead of Noah Baker (Tony Kart). Sorensen battled with Baker in the Prefinal as well, but it was Baker who moved to the front to take the win and the pole for the final.
In the main, a red flag stopped the action for an incident on the exit of Turn 1. When the race went back to green with a single-file restart, Ayden Ingratta (Tony Kart) worked to the front, having started in sixth. Ingratta pulled away to the 1.277-second on-track win, but he was penalized 10 seconds for passing under a yellow. This advanced Sorensen from second to the win. Paul Bocuse (Tony Kart) and Baker finished third and fourth before the Ingratta penalty, but they were also penalized in the final results. Bocuse has a pushback bumper infraction, while Baker was penalized in tech for a spark plug issue. This advanced Garcia to second and Michael Costello (Benik) up to third. Jakub Kolar (RS) and Leonardo Hassan (Tony Kart) completed the top-five.
The Orsolon Racing X30 Masters results were dominated by reigning SKUSA Winter Series champion Renato Jader David (Tony Kart), but it was much closer than it looked. David was 0.729 seconds quicker than his closest competition in qualifying and he walked away to a 4.139-second win in the 12-lap Prefinal.
The competition stepped up their game in the final, as Luis Cordeiro (Tony Kart) pushed David all race long and was never more than a second behind. Cordiero set the fast lap of the race in the process of finishing second, and gave notice that he’d be ready to fight for the win on Sunday. William Isaias (Tony Kart) was also in the fight to finish third, as all three drivers had posted lap times in the high-48s. It was David’s eighth straight SKUSA Winter Series win, dating back to the 2019 edition. Glauber Granero (Tony Kart) was fourth, while Dan Breitenstein (Birel ART) came out of a race-long fight with Diego Rodriguez (Exprit) in fifth.
In Piquet Sports KA100 Junior, Rolison Performance Group’s Chase Hand (Kosmic) was the driver to beat, topping qualifying over Sebastian Wheldon (Kosmic). Hand then jetted away in the Prefinal while Austin Jurs (Merlin) and Luke Welcome (Tony Kart) worked together in an attempt to reel him in. Looking forward to the main, it would have been easy to predict that Hand would be able to again get clear and stretch away, but he did not get the launch his needed at the green flag and got pinched on the exit of turn one.
Hand fought through an opening lap that saw him on the outside far too often, as he was freight-trained all the way back to eighth by the end of the initial circuit. This set up an impressive run back through the field that featured many assertive and well-executed overtakes. Welcome took advantage of Hand’s issues and pulled clear of the field to run away to a large lead. With Welcome banging out consistently lap times, Hand chased him relentlessly over the second half of the race but came up just under a second short, finishing as the runner-up with the fast lap of the race. Joining Welcome and Hand on the podium was Parker DeLong (Tony Kart), who was the Hard Charger, advancing 16 positions from 19th to take an impressive third. Collin Lloyd (Tony Kart) and Jake Walker (Kosmic) rounded out the top-five.
Based off his pace in Friday afternoon ‘Happy Hour’ practice, Matias Orjuela (Parolin) was the driver to beat in Nitro Kart Mini Swift. That said, it was Jensen Burnett (Energy) who topped the charts in the qualifying session as he pipped Orjuela by just 0.013 seconds. Orjuela dominated both the Prefinal and Final to score crucial points to begin the championship, while Enzo Vidmontiene (Benik) was equally as impressive in taking second in both races. Vidmontiene battled with Mini Swift rookie driver Oliver Wheldon (Kosmic) for a majority of both races, working together early in an attempt to stay with Orjuela. In the final, with Orjuela well out front, the focus turned to the Burnett, who started 19th after an issue in the Prefinal. Burnett was on the move from the green flag and put on an exciting show, eventually reeling in Wheldon in the late going to steal the final position on the podium. Wheldon took fourth, while Indy Ragan (Merlin) completed the top-five.
Isaac Malcuit (Kart Republic) rolled into the Winter Series coming off a strong month of December that included wins in the Sunshine State Karting Challenge at Homestead and the WKA Manufacturers Cup Series at Daytona, and the Ohio driver topped DNJ Intermodal Services Micro Swift qualifying over Gianmatteo Rousseau (Nitro Kart) and Augustus Toniolo (Kosmic). Nitro Kart’s Keelan Harvick qualified fourth and worked his way to the lead in the Prefinal to take the pole for the main. In the 20-lap final, Malcuit got the best start and bolted away to a comfortable advantage, but he went off-track on lap seven and made contact with the barriers on the exit of turn eight, ending his day. Marco Romero (Benik) took over the lead after Malcuit’s retirement and he had to fight within a group of four drivers that included Harvick, Ethan Tovo (Nitro Kart), Max Cristea (Magik), Rousseau, and Ashton Woon (Nitro Kart). In the end, Harvick was the man on the move, taking over the lead on the final lap with a strong move to the inside in the left-hand turn four. The North Carolina driver held off all challenges for the rest of the lap, and scored a 0.107-second victory over Cristea and Rousseau for his very SKUSA win. Woon and Toniolo were fourth and fifth in the adjusted results, which featured a few penalties and a technical DQ.
The drivers will return to the track on Sunday for Round #2 of the 2021 SKUSA Winter Series, with qualifying going live on the EKN Radio Network at 9:00 am ET.