EKN Trackside: Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 25 – SuperSunday Report
Hiltbrand and Giltaire take home $15,000 each with headline victories in Las Vegas
Pedro Hiltbrand became the first Spanish driver to win the Pro Shifter category at the SKUSA SuperNationals (Photo: EKN)
It was a historic day in Las Vegas with the final chapter completed at Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 25. The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino provided the stage for a 12th time in the 25-year history of the event. The weather was perfect for the 10 main events on SuperSunday following four days of practice, qualifying, three rounds of heat races and the Last Chance Qualifiers. Drivers from all over the world took on the final laps of the event to crown this year’s winners. PSL Karting / Birel ART defending their win from a year ago, this time with Spaniard Pedro Hiltbrand taking the $15,000 top prize in Pro Shifter while Frenchman Evan Giltaire gave both Kart Republic and Trinity Karting Group its first SuperNationals victory in X30 Senior.
Pro Shifter was the final race of the SKUSA SuperNationals 25 event and made history. Pole sitter Pedro Hiltbrand grabbed the initial holeshot and led the field around the opening circuit. The race was stopped after an incident on the long straight, bringing out a red flag. The field regrouped to restart single file and continue the event. Hiltbrand got away clean and put down consistent laps to maintain a lead on Estonian Markus Kajak (RPM / Tony Kart) throughout the 25-lap event. Fabian Federer (Magik Kart) advanced four spots up to third. Three-time SuperNationals runner-up Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) was fourth across the line but was handed a penalty for contact, dropping him to sixth, advancing Riccardo Longhi (PSL / Birel ART) to fourth and moving former SKUSA Pro Tour champion Jake French (PSL / Birel ART) to fifth.
The X30 Senior main event featured some of the best drivers from around the world competing in the 25-lap main event. Evan Giltaire (Trinity / Kart Republic) etched his name into the history books with a wire-to-wire victory. The top qualifier was able to maintain the P1 starting position for SuperSunday. He avoided any trouble through the opening corners and established a solid lead. A pack of drivers were fighting behind him and eventually, Tomass Stolcermanis (Nash / Energy) emerging with the second spot. The lead was just under two seconds, with Stolcermanis unable to really cut into the lead. Giltaire secured the victory, becoming the first French driver to win the X30 Senior division at the SuperNationals. The driver on the move was five-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion and last year’s winner Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic). After starting sixth, he fell back to 12th but recovered to power his way up to third by the checkered flag. The result however was removed as Norberg was disqualified in tech due to an exhaust issue. This promoted Israeli Ariel Elkin (Racelab / TB Kart) up to the third spot with Italian Edoardo Ludovicro Villa (Racelab / TB Kart) into fourth, both improving 10 spots each. Mexican Noel Leon (SCR / CRG) earned hard charger honors, advancing 22 positions to end up on the official podium in fifth.
The KA100 Senior class welcomed a fourth different winner, and the first international victor. Tomass Stolcermanis (Nash / Energy) started the 20-lap race from the pole position with top qualifier Alex Stanfield (GWR / Tony Kart) on his bumper. The ran 1-2 until fighting for position, which helped to bring more drivers into the mix. Stolcermanis fell to fourth on lap six and fought back to lead in just three laps. He then fell back to fourth with Stanfield and Frankie Mossman (Benik / CRG) each taking a turn at the point. Stolcermanis fought back into the lead, and this time for good as he drove away to a 1.4-second victory. 2019 X30 Senior winner Zachary Claman DeMelo (REM / Kosmic) was among those in the fight throughout the race, and won the battle for second ahead of Mossman. SKUSA Pro Tour champion Jeremy Fletcher (RPM / Tony Kart) started in 17th after issues in qualifying, and was able to gain 13 spots to land on the podium in fourth while Oliver Hodgson (CompKart) held his position in fifth.
The Master Shifter main event was another wire-to-wire victory. Former Formula One driver Antonio Pizzonia Jr. (Orsolon / Birel ART) started from the outside of row one and grabbed the holeshot to lead over pole sitter Alan Sciuto (GFC). The field wrecked behind them at the opening corner, including Brian Keck (GFC) and a few laps later as Jonathan Vitolo (GFC / Trackmagic) hit the outside of the turn 1 wall. Pizzonia had a sizeable lead early, however, Sciuto began to cut it down lap by lap during the second half of the race. With two laps to go, Sciuto was right there and looked to make a move as they went to the white flag. Pizzonia held him off and slowed Sciuto enough to gap him, going unchallenged to the checkered flag for the victory. Sciuto, who won 20 years ago at the SuperNationals in 80cc Junior, settled for second. Skitchy Barnes (Magik Kart USA) celebrated another podium finish, droving a solid third place finish. Behind them, it was a fight for the fourth spot with Joe Ruch (Maranello) able to fend off Scott Presti (VTM / TB Kart) with Jordon Musser (PSL / Birel ART) on their bumper at the end, coming up 12 spots from 18th as hard charger of the race.
The winner of the X30 Master division was not decided right away after the checkered flag waved on the category with penalties, tech and final rulings deciding the final podium order. NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power (RPG / Kosmic) was able to jump out to the lead on lap eight after pole sitter and top qualifier Renato Jader David (Orsolon / Tony Kart) led the first seven laps. Behind them, British driver Thomas Grice (PSL / Charles Leclerc) was on the charge forward, starting 13th and getting into the top-five by lap eight. Just as he posted his fast lap, he began working past the top-five. It was SKUSA Pro Tour champion Mario Barrios (RPG / Kosmic) and four-time SKUSA SuperNationals winner Kip Foster (PSL / Birel ART). Then it was RJD with three laps remaining and quickly charged at Power. As they were coming to the flag, Grice made his move and worked past Power to take the lead. He held on through the final circuit, taking the checkered flag first ahead of Power, RJD, Ben Cooper (RPG / Kosmic) and Foster. After the ceremonies on the track, officials penalized Grice for contact, putting Power onto the top step of the podium. However, Power would not make it through tech with a squish issue, removing him from the results. Then, Grice’s penalty was overturned, thus, putting him as the winner for SuperNationals 25. Renato was classified second with Cooper up nine spots to third over Foster with Danillo Ramalho (REM / Kosmic).
The inaugural winner for the KA100 Master category at the SKUSA SuperNationals is Martin Stone (REM / LN Racing Kart). The Texan started fourth and was among the busy lead group that included top qualifier and pole sitter Renato Jader David (Orsolon / Tony Kart), Bobby Kelley (MMK / Redspeed), Laurentiu Mardan (TecnoKart USA) and four-time SKUSA SuperNationals winner Billy Musgrave (Factory Karts). Kelley led early until he was shuffled back to second, and then contact with Musgrave at turn six on lap nine dropped him down the order. Musgrave trailed the top three, now led by Mardan but was able to run them down to make it a four-driver fight for the victory. Mardan led at the white flag with Musgrave second and Stone third. He went defensive line into turn one, and somehow, Stone went from third to first as they exited the turn and went into the second corner. Stone was able to hold on for the remainder of the lap to secure his first SuperNationals victory. Musgrave came across the line in second, however, was penalized for contact, dropping him to fifth and moving Renato to second, Mardan to third and Danillo Ramalho (REM / Kosmic) – advancing 15 positions – in fourth.
The X30 Junior main event was a breakout performance and victory by Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic). Starting 13th, Rivera was into the top five by lap two and set the pace for the middle of race to make his move. He began advancing on lap seven, and by lap 11, was into the lead ahead of teammate and SKUSA Pro Tour champion Caleb Gafrarar (RPG / Kosmic). Rivera’s pace continued to improve in clean air, running his quickest lap of the race on lap 19, and taking the checkered flag for the victory by over a second. Gafrarar settled for the second spot with Max Garcia (MPG / Kart Republic) in third. Jesus Vasquez Jr. (Nash / EOS) and Cameron Brinkman (MDR / LN Racing Kart) rounding out the top-five.
The KA100 Junior class also saw the official race winner decided well after the checkered flag waved. The fourth main event on the day saw a wild race that included six different lead changes over the 20 laps. Jesus Vasquez Jr. (Nash / EOS) was the driver to lead in the middle portion of the race until more shuffling took place. Eventually, Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) returned to the point and led the way to the white flag with teammate Cooper Shipman (IRM / Tony Kart) behind him. Wild passing saw Shipman end his race in the barriers as they continued to shuffle behind Meza. At the line, Meza took the unofficial victory with eight drivers crossing the line on his bumper. Meza was handed a five-second penalty for contact, losing the victory and dropping him to eighth in the final order. That promoted top qualifier Steven Miller (CDR / Alonso Kart) as the official winner, his first SuperNationals victory. Leonardo Escorpioni (Zanella / Tony Kart) was classified second, advancing 23 positions total over the 20 laps. Max Taylor (RPG / Kosmic) was third with Stephen Eisert (SSM / Exprit) fourth and Augustus Toniolo (RPG / Kosmic) into fifth after starting 27th.
The Mini Swift category featured an exciting 18-lap main event that began with three drivers at the front shuffling lap after lap. Pole sitter Isaac Malcuit (Nitro Kart) was joined by Max Cristea (MottazSport / Kart Republic) and Gianmatteo Rousseau (Trinity / Alonso Kart). They would eventually be joined late in the race by Turner Brown (SCR / CRG) and top qualifier Michael McGaughy (RPM / Parolin). Brown led the way toward the front of the field with McGaughy right behind him, moving to first and second by lap 14. They fought for the lead over the last three laps with Brown able to cross the line first for the provisional victory. Brown was among three drivers receiving a three-second penalty for two wheels outside the tram lines. That took the victory away, dropping him to nineth with a large group crossing behind him at the checkered flag. The penalty promoted McGaughy to the official winner of the Mini Swift class for SuperNationals 25. Malcuit was classified second with Rousseau. Lucas Palacio (Trinity / Kart Republic) was up nine spots to fourth with Tyler Roberts (IRM / Parolin) rounding out the top-five.
Jackson Gibson was the first driver to win at SKUSA SuperNationals 25 with the Micro Swift category first on track for SuperSunday. Pole sitter Rocco Simone (Parolin USA) jumped out to the lead early and held a sizable advantage until Jackson Gibson (RPG / Kosmic) – who started fourth – moved up to second. He was able to run down Simone and take the lead on lap 14. The two swapped the top spot a few more times until Gibson was able to hold on through the final lap, securing his first SuperNationals victory. Simone had to settle for second with Troy Ferguson (Benik) crossing the line in third. Matheus Ramalho (REM / Kosmic) advanced five spots to fourth with Parker Ives (Nitro Kart) completing the top-five, up eight spots from 13th.
Another historic event is complete and the silver anniversary event for the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals is into the record books. In total, all 10 winners were first time victors at the SuperNats, which has not happened since 2008 with 10 different first-time winners that year outside the Rio. While we do not know that exact time, the karting community looks forward to the 26th running of the SuperNationals that will return to Las Vegas in 2023!