EKN Trackside: 2022 Superkarts! USA Winter Series – AMR 1 – Preview
Fifth season in Florida opens up new year of karting
The 2022 karting season is open, and the Superkarts! USA organization is riding off the momentum from the successful SuperNationals 24 in Las Vegas and taking it to Florida to begin the SKUSA Winter Series. The fifth season of the two event, four round championship will take place at the AMR Homestead-Miami Motorplex presented by MG Tires facility in Homestead, Florida.
The 7/10-mile circuit has undergone some updates in recent weeks, including new curbing and exit sections revised, with the counter-clockwise direction utilized for the opening weekend for the 2022 SKUSA Winter Series. Wednesday and Thursday are unofficial practice with Friday hosting five official sessions for testing. Round 1 is set for Saturday, including qualifying, Prefinal and Final. Round 2 is a repeat format on Sunday.
What is considered to be the ‘Spring Training’ for the upcoming season, the SKUSA Winter Series is the opportunity for select drivers either graduating up a division, or finding a new home to work out the kinks and get ready for the busy summer schedule. Entries are higher than the 2021 opener with 218 entries in the nine categories pre-registered for the two rounds of racing.
The common theme for nearly all the categories will be a new champion crowned in February, including in the competitive X30 Senior division. Three-time defending champion Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) has elected to sit out the program for the 2022 season, staying on to be a driver coach and prepare for the upcoming events in the season. That means one of the 42 drivers in this weekend’s event will become a new class champion. Among those leading the way is 2021 SKUSA Pro Tour champion Hannah Greenemeier (RPG / Kosmic). It was in Homestead last year that she suffered a rib injury, which took her out of the seat for at least one month before charging to her first SKUSA Pro Tour victory and crown. Eyes will be on the Morgan brothers neither Cole Morgan – 2021 SKUSA Pro Tour KA100 Senior champion – and Carson Morgan – 2021 SKUSA Pro Tour X30 Junior and KA100 Junior champion – did not compete at the SKUSA Winter Series last year.
Other top drivers from 2021 season include Pauly Massimino (RPM / Kosmic), Jace Park (Trinity / Kart Republic), SKUSA Winter Series race winner Aaron Benoit, ROK Vegas winner Nate Cicero (RPG / Kosmic) and Alessandro de Tullio (Parolin USA). Among the rookies in the Senior class include Jeremy Fletcher (GWS / Tony Kart), Paul Bocuse (RPG / Kosmic) and Noah Baker (Supertune / Tony Kart). International stars include Colombian Diego Contecha (Orsolon / Kart Republic), Canadian Thomas Nepveu (Trinity / Kart Republic), Brazilian Diego Ramos (REM / Kosmic) and British driver Louie Westover (Solo Kart USA).
A new champion will be crowned in the KA100 Senior division with none of the top-four finishers in last year’s standings returning. The top returning driver is Aiden Levy (Harvick / Tony Kart), who finished fifth in 2021. Both Morgan brothers are pulling double duty, and should be a factor in both. Merlin Nation is led by Josh Hotz and Nicholas Terlecki – who stood on the podium at the SKUSA SuperNationals. Connor Ferris (TFR / Kart Republic) and Texas Sprint Racing Series champion Peyton Phillips (Core / Redspeed) could be among those to challenge for podium finishes along with a trio of Trinity Karting Group / Kart Republic driver Gavin Bayliff, Finnegan Bayliff, and Tyler Wettengel. The weekend will be the Senior debut for last year’s KA100 Junior series champion Chase Hand (RPG / Kosmic) and Aden Rudolph, finding a new home with PSL Karting aboard a Birel ART alongside fellow Senior rookie Dane Idelson. Jeremy Fletcher (GWR / Tony Kart) is also pulling double duty in his SKUSA Senior debut.
Only four drivers are registered for the Pro Shifter category at the SKUSA Winter Series. Two-time series champion Billy Musgrave (Factory Karts) is back to fight for a third title over Annie Rhule (Magik Kart USA), Giano Taurino (Magik Kart USA) and Alan Isambard (IM / Tony Kart).
The X30 Junior division is set to welcome a fifth different champion with last year’s title winner Kai Sorensen not competing in 2022. In fact, the other three finishers in last year’s standings have graduated up to the Senior level. Max Garcia (MPG / WPK) finished off with a solid rookie campaign in the X30 Junior division, placing fifth at the SKUSA Winter Series and vice-champion on the SKUSA Pro Tour. He will be among the top contenders along with Ayden Ingratta (SCR / Redspeed), Salim Hanna (TM / Tony Kart), Sebastian Wheldon (JC / Kosmic) and Caleb Gafrarar, finishing on the podium in his first four events with Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic to close out 2021. A handful of Junior rookies are making their debut in Florida, including SKUSA Pro Tour Mini Swift champion Enzo Vidmontiene (Team Benik / Kosmic) and SKUSA Winter Series Mini Swift title winner Matias Orjuela (Parolin USA).
Several drivers are looking to kick start the 2022 season with a championship in the KA100 Junior. Top returning drivers from last year include Austin Jurs (FMS / Redspeed), who finished third in the SKUSA Pro Tour championship. Luke Welcome (VM / Tony Kart) won at the SKUSA Winter Series last year, hoping to defend his home circuit. Caleb Gafrarar (RPG / Kosmic) is among the only drivers in the Junior class doing the double duty. Adam Brickly is a new addition to the Trinity Karting Group / Kart Republic stable, who could be among those in contention on the weekend.
Another streak is coming to an end with Renato Jader David not competing in the X30 Master division. RJD won 11 straight, including 13 of 16, winning the first four championships. Among those trying to be a new champion including SKUSA Pro Tour champion Mario Barrios (RPG / Kosmic), Danillo Ramalho (REM / Kosmic) and Luis Schiavo returning back to competition.
A total of five drivers will be competing in the Master Shifter division at the opening weekend of the SKUSA Winter Series. Last year’s series runner-up and vice-champion at the SKUSA Pro Tour, Scott Barnes (HMG / TB Kart) will battle AMR Motorplex regulars Patrick Otto Madsen (ANSA / Formula K) and Farshad Bagheri (TB Kart USA) along with Ken Schilling (HMG / Aluminos) and Johnston Erwin (HMG / CompKart).
Mini Swift enters the weekend as the second largest class at 38 drivers, filled with several drivers moving up from the Micro division. It is a great replacement for the several drivers that graduated to the Junior ranks. Canadian Jensen Burnett (Parolin USA), Asher Ochstein (Supertune / Tony Kart) and Carson Weinberg will be the more experienced drivers. Leading the rookie class is last year’s Micro champion Keelan Harvick (Harvick / Nitro Kart). He is joined by fellow Nitro Kart driver Tristan Murphy – coming off a win at the CKNA Winter Nationals – the Tovo brothers of Ethan and Jackson, and SKUSA Pro Tour Micro champion Gianmatteo Rousseau. Add in Phaethon Saradpon (AKT / Kart Republic) and Lucas Palacio (Trinity / Kart Republic), there will be a good mix of rookies in contention on the weekend.
Despite all those drivers moving up to Mini, the Micro Swift class is welcoming more drivers than last year with 33 set to battle in Homestead. Alessandro Truchot (Parolin USA) is among the top returning drivers, placing fourth a year ago. Jackson Gibson (RPG / Kosmic) improved vastly at the end of last year to battle for podium finishes. 2021 Challenge of the Americas champion Jaxon Porter (Team Benik) is traveling east to contend his first SKUSA Winter Series program, while Rocco Simone (Mottazsport / Birel ART) and Travis Pettit (Solo Kart USA) are coming off success at the recent WKA Daytona KartWeek.