EKN Trackside: 2021 SKUSA WinterNationals – NOLA – Saturday Report
Myers and Ramos score premier class wins to kick off 2021 Pro Tour season
Reigning SKUSA Pro Tour Pro Shifter champ was on his game to start the 2021 season, winning the opening round at NOLA Motorsports
(Photo: Ken Johnson - On Track Promotions)
Superkarts! USA returned the site of the 2020 WinterNationals this weekend at NOLA Motorsports in New Orleans, where COVID-19 put an end to the plans for the year’s Pro Tour. The organization and its teams and drivers were back at the facility on Saturday to take care of unfinished business. The opening round of the Pro Tour was completed under cloudy skies with intermittent sunshine, and the racing was all that was expected.
The Rolison Performance Group X30 Senior class featured 39 of the sport’s best TaG drivers, and reigning SKUSA Pro Tour champion Bryson Morris (RPG / Kosmic) came out of the gate strongly, winning the pole. Morris faded to the tail of the top-10 in the Prefinal, which was won by Diego Ramos (Racing Edge Motorsports / Kosmic). The RPG / Kosmic trio of Branyon Tiner, Hannah Greenemeier, and four-time SKUSA champ Ryan Norberg chased Ramos to the line in the 10-lap dash. In the 20-lap Final, Ramos led early but he was no match for Greenemeier, who rose to the occasion to take the lead for good on lap 11. The Colorado driver did not put a wheel wrong and crossed the line to score a popular, albeit unofficial, win. Disappointingly, the enthusiasm and excitement surrounding Greenemeier breaking through to become the first woman to score a Pro Tour victory in the 11-year history of the series was dampened quickly when the paddock discovered that one side of her front bumper had activated the pushback. The subsequent time penalty dropped her to sixth and advanced Ramos to the win, capping a strong day for Diego. Norberg and Tiner were advanced to second and third to complete the podium, while Jake Drew (Ryan Perry Motorsports / Tony Kart) took fourth ahead of Greenemeier.
AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA / Magik) defended his 2020 SKUSA Pro Tour Pro Shifter title in style, sweeping all three sessions of the PSL Karting sponsored category, holding a comfortable cushion on Jake French (PSL / Birel ART) for the entire main event distance. Danny Formal (Leading Edge / Formula K) ran third for the first 12 laps until shifter linkage failure sent him to the sidelines, opening the door for Michael Stevens (PSL / Birel ART) to advance to third. The position would not hold, however, as Billy Musgrave (MRC / Factory Kart) was on the move after starting at the tail of the grid after being penalized in the Prefinal for rear width. Musgrave was the guy to watch, and he attacked Stevens for the final podium position late in the race, eventually taking over third. That said, Myers was the class of the field, winning outright with the fast lap of the race. Stevens finished fourth, ahead of Davide Greco (PSL / Birel ART) in fifth.
Jordon Musser (PSL / Birel ART) was the class of the field in CKR USA Master Shifter, sweeping all three sessions in dominant fashion to start off the 2021 season on the right foot. The battle for second was waged throughout the day by Bermuda’s Skitchy Barnes (HMG / Compkart) and Texan Vincent Cossard (SRR / CRG). Cossard was quicker in qualifying, but Barnes battled hard to win the position in the Prefinal. In the main, the duo faced off again and Barnes outgunned Cossard to score the victory after swapping the position several times throughout the 20-lap race. Tim De Belloy (SRR / CRG) finished fourth ahead of Anthony Stiffler (HMG / Compkart) in fifth. Venkat Reddy (MRC / Birel ART) finished seventh and was the top Super Master driver in the category.
Parker DeLong (RPM / Tony Kart) was the man to beat in qualifying for Parolin USA X30 Junior, edging Cole Kleck (Arcane Motorsports / Tony Kart) by 0.100 seconds to take the pole. Jeremy Fletcher (Team Felon / Tony Kart) won the Prefinal but a pushback bumper penalty dropped him to third, advancing DeLong and Max Garcia (Kartsport North America / Will Power Kart) to P1 and P2. Fletcher went immediately to the lead in the main event, and then battled with Carson Morgan (Morgan Racing / Tony Kart) for the remainder of the race. Morgan took the on-track win but a blocking penalty added three seconds to total time, dropping him all the way down to seventh. This penalty advanced Fletcher to the win, and Kleck to second. Camryn Reed (Iron Rock Motorsports / Tony Kart) ran in the top-10 all day and was strong in the Final, finishing fourth on-track and third in the final tally. Paul Bocuse (Parolin USA) and Noah Baker (Supertune / Tony Kart) wrapped the top-five.
In the Kart Racing Solutions KA100 Senior class, Cole Morgan (RPM / Tony Kart) topped all three sessions, and then battled with Brandon Lemke (FMS / Merlin) early on in the Final before taking control on lap seven. Morgan laid down the fastest lap enroute to a 4.042-second win over Lemke, who was chased by Connor Ferris (Team Ferris Racing / Kart Republic) to the checkered flag. Ethan Wolfe (Cruz Racing Development / Redspeed) and Leonardo Colavita (Mike Doty Racing / Kosmic) completed the top-five.
Like Morgan, Noah Baker (Supertune / Tony Kart) was on the top of the results in all three North Texas Karters KA100 Junior sessions. After qualifying on the pole outright and winning the Prefinal following a penalty to Jeremy Fletcher (Team Felon / EOS), Baker took several turns up front during the 20-lap race. After swapping the lead, he paced the final five laps and then held off a drag-race charge from Cole Kleck (Arcane Motorsports / Tony Kart) to edge out a 0.027-second victory. Parker DeLong (Ryan Perry Motorsports / Tony Kart) completed the podium in third, Carson Morgan (RPM / Tony Kart) and Chase Hand (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic) finished fourth and fifth.
Danillo Ramalho (REM / Kosmic) was the dominant player in the Comet Kart Sales X30 Masters class, qualifying on pole by a large margin before walking away in the Prefinal. A penalty for ‘manipulating the start’ dropped him to sixth for the green flag of the final, but he was quickly on the move. Jess Peterson (PGR / Ricciardo) led from pole and paced the first six laps until Ramalho worked through those in front of him to take over the point. Ramalho’s lead would last only a lap when he was forced to pit lane with a flat tire that occurred during the slight contact made during his pass for the lead. Peterson re-took the lead and held off the race-long pressure from Mario Barrios (RPG / Kosmic), turning incredibly consistent laps to score a 0.469-second win. Barrios finished second and was also awarded the Super Master win for the being the top-driver of 45-years-of-age. Eric Molinatti (CKR USA / CKR) ran his best in the final to take the last position on the podium in third, ahead of Glauber Granero (Orsolon / Tony Kart) and Magno Gaia (Orsolon / Tony Kart).
Texan Tyler Roberts (Parolin USA) kicked off the day with the pole position in Leading Edge Motorsports Mini Swift qualifying, but he was shuffled off the track at the start of the Prefinal and finished last after completing just six laps. Diego Ardiles (Supertune / Tony Kart) topped Enzo Vidmontiene (Benik / Kart Mini) in the Prefinal, and both drivers were in the fight in the 18-lap final. Ardiles and Vidmontiene both led laps, as did Jack Iliffe (Iron Rock Motorsports / Tony Kart) and Oliver Wheldon (JC Karting / Kosmic). In the end, Vidmontiene came home with the win with Ardiles and Iliffe completing the podium. Wheldon and Ben Maier (Nitro Kart) capped the top-five.
Gianmatteo Rousseau (Nitro Kart) was quick out of the gate to top qualifying in DNJ Intermodal Services Micro Swift, and would win the Prefinal going away as well. The results sheet for the Prefinal didn’t show the speed or positioning of Augustus Toniolo (RPG / Kosmic) however, as the young Brazilian was moving to second late in the race on the backstraight when he made contact with Alessandro Truchot (Parolin), climbing over his left rear and spinning.
Rousseau jumped out to the early lead in the Finals, but Toniolo was quickly moving back through the field and grabbed the lead by the second lap. The Rolison Performance Group driver scored the on-track win, but a pushback-bumper penalty of three seconds dropped him to second behind Rousseau, who completed his sweep of the day. Isaac Malcuit (AKT / Kart Republic) ran alone in third, with Tristan Murphy (Nitro) and Jaime Garcia (Parolin USA) completing the top-five.
The teams and drivers will return to the NOLA Motorsports on Sunday for Round #2 of the Pro Tour to cap this year’s WinterNationals, although the forecast promises for a much different experience. A rising potential for rain could make for an entirely different set of podiums by the end of the day.