EKN Trackside: 2023 United States Pro Kart Series – Southern Grand Prix – Saturday Report
Myers and Miles sweep heats as Massimino stands out on ‘Situation Saturday’ at Orlando Kart Center
The 2023 United States Pro Kart Series began the first day of racing action on the season with a full day of heat races at the Southern Grand Prix from the Orlando Kart Center. A total of 30 heat races were contested at the Orlando, Florida facility, providing an exciting ‘Situation Saturday’ to set the grids for the main events on Sunday. The weather was typical Florida conditions, 80 degrees and sunny. The paddock and the USPKS staff grinded through the schedule in the new weekend format that saw 30 heat races from 9:15am until over 6:00pm including a short lunch break. Each category received 36 laps for those to keep themselves at the front, or to recover from difficulties or issues in qualifying to put themselves in position for the Finals on Sunday.
The heat races in the X30 Pro presented by Franklin Motorsports were swept by Speed Concepts Racing / Redspeed drivers Ayden Ingratta and Pauly Massimino. Ingratta qualified third on Friday and was leading the opening heat race. Fighting for the position, he got his bumper locked in together with Brandon Carr (RPM / Tony Kart). Ingratta went straight off and was unable to rejoin to finish 33rd. That allowed Massimino the opportunity to drive ahead from fourth on the grid to the race win ahead of Carr. Ingratta bounced back the remaining two heat races, fighting his way to the race win in both, salvaging a ninth starting spot for the main event. Massimino drove to second behind him in each to earn the pole position for Sunday’s Final. Top qualifier Diego Contecha (RPG / Kosmic) slipped to fifth, third and fourth in the heat races and will move to the outside of the front row. Carr ended up fourth and seventh in the remaining heats and now goes from P3 on the grid. Belgian driver Elie Goldstein (Racelab / TB Kart) had two top-three finishes after starting fifth, and now goes from fourth for the main event. Laurent Legault (RPG / Kosmic) and Hayden Jones (Trinity / Kart Republic) are set to start from the third row. Provisional top qualifier Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) had a busy day on Saturday, starting from 38th on the grid after crossing the scales underweight. In total, he advanced 79 positions on the day, finishing 12th, 11th and 12th to earn a tenth starting spot alongside Ingratta for the main event.
It was a three-driver battle all day in Pro Shifter presented by SRP Engines. Top qualifier Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) was joined by AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA) and Danny Formal (RPG / Kosmic) all day at the front. Myers was able to battle his way to the win in all three heat races. Formal was second in the opening moto while Kremers finished second to Myers in the final two heats. Myers will go from the pole position on Sunday with Kremer on the outside of the front row. Karol Pasiewicz (IM / Lenzo Kart) and Hunter Pickett (PSL / Birel ART) maintained their position from qualifying and will start from fourth and fifth.
The 57-kart field for KA100 Senior presented by Mike Doty Racing was led on the day by Christian Miles (MDR / LN Racing Kart). Miles was able to fend off the field in all three heats to claim each of his race wins to maintain the pole position for the Final. Lucas Szabo (RPM / LN Racing Kart), Josh Campbell (RPM / Tony Kart) and Josh Hotz (HDD / Exprit) won the other three heat races. All had solid finishes in their remaining heats and will start the final from fourth, third and fifth respectively. Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) and Collin Lloyd (Magik Kart USA) raced their way directly into the Final after suffering issues in qualifying to start last in all three of their heat races. Meza had a best finish of ninth – advancing 19 positions – while Lloyd’s top result on the day was also ninth – advancing 20 spots. They will go from 21st and 23rd respectively in the Final.
The X30 Junior class presented by Rolison Performance Group was led on the day by Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic). The SuperNationals winner and Winter Series champ outpaced the top qualifier Steven Miller (CDR / Kart Republic) in all three heat races for the win. Miller was second in two of the heat races, while falling down to ninth in the final order in Heat 2. That puts him third on the grid for Sunday as Teddy Musella make it two RPG / Kosmic entries on the front row for the main event. Musella had three top-five finishes on the day. Max Taylor (RPG / Kosmic) had two top-five results, improving from 10th on the grid as did Diego Ardiles (RPG / Kosmic), up from eighth in each heat race. They will go from fourth and fifth grid position on Sunday.
Steven Miller (CDR / Kart Republic) was able to maintain the pole position in KA100 Junior presented by BBS Race Engines. The top qualifier won all three of his heat races on the day through the ABCD splits, besting all three groups. Enzo Vidmontiene (MottazSport / Parolin) won his first two heats and finished second to Miller in the third. That moves him from P4 to the outside of the front row for the start of the Final. Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) was the provisional winner of the final heat race, however, contact penalty took the win away. He will start the Final from third with two runner-up finishes and a fourth-place result. The win in that heat race went to Cameron Brinkman (MDR / LN Racing Kart), who had two top-three finishes but a bad result in his second moto, putting down to 16th on the grid for Sunday. Leonardo Escorpioni (Zanella / Tony Kart) starts the Final from fourth with three top-five finishes with Eli Warren (JSR / Redspeed) in fifth with two top-five results during the heat races – both improving on qualifying results of 17th and 19th overall.
Top qualifier Mike Rolison (RPG / Kosmic) was able to win all three heat races for the new KA100 Master class presented by Speed Concepts Racing on the day. Unfortunately, during the opening heat the battery on his machine was ripped off and he was removed from the results in tech. That last place result with two wins places him seventh on the grid for the Final. That promoted Martin Stone (REM / Kosmic) to the race win in Heat 1. Combined with finishes of second and fourth in the remaining heats, Stone earned the pole position for the main event. Alex Dancho (MDR / LN Racing Kart) improved his starting spot to the outside of the front row with two top-five efforts in the heat races. Laureniu Mardan (Tecno Kart USA) did as well with two top-five results to start third. Niki Coello (FMS / Merlin) had a best finish of fifth while teammate Scott Kopp (FMS / Merlin) drove up to third for his best result on the day. They will go from fourth and fifth on the grid with last year’s X30 Master champion Danillo Ramalho (URace / Tony Kart) improving from 27th to sixth on the grid. Ramalho was the provisional top qualifier however was removed from the results following tech. He advanced up to finishes of fifth, sixth and 12th on the day to put himself in contention for what should be a great battle on Sunday.
The Mini Swift presented by DNJ International Services was another class to see a driver win all three heat races. Lucas Palacio (Trinity / Kart Republic) improved from seventh in all three heat races to reach the checkered flag first. Palacio had an axle shifter during qualifying, limiting him to the seventh best time in the qualifying session on Friday. He fought forward in all three heat races and will now lead the field to the green flag in Sunday’s main event. Top qualifier Ashton Woon (Supertune / Parolin) did not have a great Saturday, getting involved in contact on the final lap of Heat 1 to finish 42nd while slipping back to sixth and third in the remaining heats to start the Final from 15th. Tristan Murphy (RPM / Parolin) was involved in that contact with Woon, and after holding onto second through the remaining two heat races, will start from 12th. Joining Palacio on the front row on Sunday will be Max Cristea (MottazSport / Parolin), up from ninth in qualifying to finish third, third and fifth. Ethan Tovo (Parolin) improved from sixth to finish second in the opening heat race for a best finish on the day, and will start third. Mini rookie Marco Sammut (MDR / LN Racing Kart) improved his position after qualifying 15th with a best result of sixth to start the Final from fourth. Kai Mars (Trinity / Kart Republic) and Fion Shi (Tony Kart) qualified within the top-eight, and will start the main event from row three after best results of seventh and eight in the heat races respectively.
It was a great day for Parker Ives (RPM / Nitro Kart) in Micro Swift presented by Team Ferris Racing. Ives qualified fifth and drove his way to the front of the field to take the checkered flag first in all three heat races, two of them by more than three seconds on the field. Aston Wyatt (ARRA / Birel ART) followed him through from eighth to finish second in all three. He will join Ives on the front row for the start of the main event. Maxwell Macha (SLA / Kart Republic) used the heat races to recover from qualifying 18th, driving up to three top-five results to start the Final from third alongside Enzo DiGennaro (TFR / Kart Republic), who had two top-five finishes of his own. Juan Diego Garciarce (Orsolon / Parolin) qualified second and slipped down the order to fourth for the main event grid with a worst result of 10th. Top qualifier Josh Bergman (Piquet / Sodikart) suffered a bad result in the opening heat and will start from fifth.
The main events on Sunday are set to begin at 10:44am EDT. Follow the coverage all weekend long on the EKN Social Media accounts for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for news, updates, photos, videos and more, including the top-10 results after each session. Listen to the racing action by heading to the EKN Live page or tune in on the EKN Radio Network.