Race Report: 2022 US Rotax Trophy West – Phoenix Kart Racing Association
The 2022 Rotax season kicked off in Glendale, Arizona this past weekend as Round 1 and 2 of the US Trophy West series played out on the challenging Phoenix Kart Racing Association circuit. The doubleheader event provided close action in all categories, featuring two different directions of the track with Saturday in the counterclockwise format and switched to the clockwise configuration on Sunday, adding to the excitement on the weekend. The track configuration coupled with the near 100-degree temperature made for a challenging and fun event for the competitors.
“It was great to finally kick-off our 2022 campaign and a pleasure to do so at such an iconic circuit as PKRA. With our track configuration reversal, the on-track action was pretty cool and with many new faces the event has created strong momentum for the brand as well as the ‘Road to Portimao’.” — Justin Stefani
First on track for the weekend was the Jr. Max category where we witnessed the robustness and parity of the evo 125 engine platform as the top 8 drivers were only separated by less than two tenths of second. The category was won on both days by Cooper O’Clair who took home the maximum haul of points for his championship aspirations. Two young drivers showing promise, Archer Eversman and Giovanni Santora shared Saturday’s podium as Eversman and Santora took second and third respectfully. On Sunday, O’Clair had a closer challenge in the final with Johnathon Schwyn taking second place while Canadian/US resident Alexander Chartier was able to best Alexander Jacoby in the final laps to take a well-deserved third place finish and round out the podium.
Saturday’s event started out with Cole Schroeder setting a pole time over Macy Williams with Varney, Ho and Dowler close behind for what was sure to be a close battle. The top five mixed it up massively with great racing throughout the prefinal and final as Ethan Ho asserted himself by taking the victory with Griffin Dowler in second and Cole Schroeder in third place. Sunday’s action tamed down a little as the track reversal inverted the results as Griffin Dowler enjoyed a commanding win followed by Ethan Ho in second as Colorado native David Williams enjoyed the final spot on the podium in third place.
A light field, but stout with talent the event was a three-way battle between Christopher Mann, Derek Wang and Billy Cleavelin. Mann was able to best the field in qualifying on both days by taking pole position, but it was Derek Wang who enjoyed the win on both Saturday and Sunday. Cleavelin took second place on both days and the fastest lap on Sunday’s final as he had a close battle with Christopher Mann on Saturday for the podium with Rene Bine taking home a fourth-place finish for both days.
A strong battle in qualifying and the prefinal on both days between last year’s Team USA members; Gage Korn and Kyle Drysdale as well as the young Colorado native Matteo Quinto. On Saturday’s final Drysdale proved too much for the competition with Korn in second and young Killian Harris rounded out the final podium position. Sunday’s action provided much of the same result as Drysdale completed the weekend with another victory while Korn and Quinto battled throughout the event with Korn taking second and Quinto taking a well-deserved third place finish.
Micro Max had three separate battles on track throughout the weekend proving the reliability and drivability of the Micro platform. Saturday was intense racing between eventual winner Ashton Woon and Ryan Queen as the two battled until the last lap with Woon besting Queen by just two tenths of a second while Braylon Underwood took home a solid third place finish. On Sunday’s action it was a clean sweep by Jaxon Porter, the 2021 West series champion, who was followed on the podium by Ryan Queen in second and Ashton Woon in third place.
The next and final stop on the US Rotax Trophy West series will be May 27-29 in Grand Junction Colorado. Rounds 3 and 4 will be played out on the technical and fast circuit which is known for providing some of the most amazing racing events. The series champions will be presented on Sunday and those competing in the west series will be one step closer to chasing their chance at earning a spot at the 2022 Rotax Grand Finals.