EKN Trackside: SKUSA Pro Tour WinterNationals – Sunday Report
Morgatto, Musgrave, and Levy score impressive Senior wins
The teams and drivers on the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour reconvened at the Orlando Kart Center on Sunday for the final day of action at the WinterNationals, taking to the 13-turn track for another schedule of intense competition. The weather was a carbon copy of Saturday with temperatures in the high-80s under sunny and partly cloudy skies. Throughout the weekend, drivers had complained of a very greasy track due to the heat, which only served to increase the challenge for everyone involved. PSL Karting’s Matheus Morgatto (BirelART) worked forward throughout the day to score a major X30 Senior win for the team and the brand, while Billy Musgrave made history for his Factory Karts program, becoming the first driver to win on the SKUSA Pro Tour driving an American-made chassis. In the final Senior category – KA100 – Aiden Levy (Team Tarp / Kart Republic) backed up his win from Saturday with a dominant run to victory and a sizeable lead in the class championship heading to Utah in June.
Sunday’s main event action was capped by a thrilling battle in Speed Concepts Racing X30 Senior. SCR / Redspeed drivers Austin Garrison, Ayden Ingratta, and Pauly Massimino stepped up their game from Saturday to lock-out the top three positions in qualifying thanks to a positive set-up adjustment and an overnight powerplant change for Garrison. PSL Karting / BirelART drivers Matheus Morgatto and Diego Ramos timed in fourth and fifth, setting the stage for the day-long battle. The Prefinal and main event pole belonged to the rookie Ingratta, who had Garrison holding the PSL Karting pair at bay in the Prefinal.
The main event proved to be the prize for three months of hard work for Morgatto, Ramos, and PSL Karting, as Morgatto marched forward throughout the 22-lap final. At the start, Ingratta grabbed the lead from pole as Ramos powered through to take second, but Ingratta would not have the necessary late-race pace. The biggest shake-up at the start involved Saturday winner Joe Turney (CDR / Kart Republic), who started fifth, but had an issue coming out of Turn 4 on the opening lap, which dropped him to the mid-pack. As is often the case, the chaos that occurs deeper in the field reared its ugly head, and several divebomb moves from drivers starting in the middle of the field ended badly with Turney being spun and stuffed into the barriers on the exit of Turn 9. The British driver would not repeat his victorious performance from Saturday. To Turney’s credit, he pulled his kart back on the track and continued, eventually finished 18th with the fastest lap of the race. Pre-weekend favorite Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) got roughed up as well, the resultant damages from this off-track excursion damaged his gear and sent him to the sidelines early.
With two of the primary favorites out of the discussion, Morgatto took over the spotlight as he stormed forward through the race to take the lead from Ingratta on lap 9. From there, the reigning CIK-FIA World Champion managed his pace to score the victory as he was chased in the late going by an impressive Harley Keeble (Piquet Sports / Sodi Kart). The 16-year-old British driver definitely made a statement throughout the weekend, coming back from losing a podium on Saturday for being underweight. Ramos made it two PSL drivers on the podium, as he finished a half-second ahead of Ingratta. PSL Karting’s Alessandro de Tullio (BirelART) added to the Red Army’s success with a spectacular drive from 30th to fifth. While this was a stellar 25-position improvement, the Hard Charger was actually Blake Nash (Nash Motorsportz / EOS), who powered forward from 36th to ninth to gain 27 spots.
The storyline in the PSL Karting Pro Shifter class was all Factory Karts’ Billy Musgrave as the lone driver utilizing the IAME 175 SSE powerplant. SKUSA rules allow both the 175 SSE and the KZ engine formulae, and it became apparent that Musgrave had both his powerplant and his Factory Kart chassis dialed in to gain an insurmountable advantage. After hounding Danny Formal (RPG / Kosmic) for the lead for 24 laps on Saturday, Musgrave flat dominated the action on Sunday to top all three sessions. Tire wear and grip with major concerns with all the drivers in the Pro Shifter class, and despite the challenge, Musgrave still emerged with a huge race win. Behind the Californian, reigning SKUSA Pro Tour champ Marijn Kremers (PSL Karting / BirelART) bested AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA / Magik) for second, with the two combatants completing the podium. GFC Karting’s Kyle Wick (GFC) was another great storyline on Sunday, bouncing back from the gearbox issue in qualifying to drive from 16th to eighth in the Prefinal, and then from eighth to fourth in the main. Jacob Gulick (GFC) was also impressive on Sunday afternoon, battling with the leaders all day, eventually finishing fifth.
OKC track owner Andre Martins (Tony Kart) emerged as the winner in the International Motorsports Master Shifter main event. Daniel Dibos (International Motorsports / LenzoKart) topped qualifying and won the Prefinal, but he retired with a mechanical issue halfway through the Final. Martins took over at that point, taking the win over 2022 class champion Robert Fiege (VTM / TB Kart) and Ken Schilling (GP).
The RPG X30 Junior class was indeed that…all Rolison Performance Group. The powerhouse team locked out the top-five positions in qualifying, led by Max Taylor (RPG / Kosmic). Teddy Musella (RPG / Kosmic) took the Prefinal win for the team with Taylor in second. Saturday winner Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) finished third ahead of Diego Ardiles (RPG / Kosmic). Oliver Wheldon (JC Karting / LN Kart) had a strong weekend overall and was fifth in the Prefinal as the leading non-RPG driver. In the Final, Taylor went quickly to the lead on lap three and then delivered a flawless performance over the 20-lap distance. Chased over the final laps by Rivera, Taylor did not falter and drove to a 0.918-second win, his first national level SKUSA Pro Tour victory. Rivera backed up his Round 1 triumph with a solid second-place finish, while Musella completed the all-RPG podium with a terrific result. Ardiles finished fourth. Wheldon dropped back to seventh midway through the final by he came back to finish fifth in the final tally.
After winning the race off-track on Saturday due to a push-back bumper penalty for the on-track victor, Aiden Levy (Team Tarp / Alonso Kart) put on a master-class performance by taking the pole in qualifying before sweeping the races, taking both Prefinal and Final wins in Nash Motorsportz KA100 Senior. After putting it on the front row by nearly three tenths of a second, Levy stretched out a 5.3-second gap in the 12-lap Prefinal, setting the precedent for the day. The Final was no different with Levy building a full second gap over the first couple laps, and he went unchallenged from then on, crossing the line 3.3 seconds in front of Josh Campbell (Ryan Perry Motorsports / Tony Kart), who got by Noah Rosser (GWR / Gillard) on the final laps after the duo ran nose-to-tail all race long. It was a well-deserved podium finish from Rosser after showing pace all weekend and during the USPKS round at Orlando as well. CRG pilot Frankie Mossman (Tesoro Raceworx) came home fourth, continuing to push the CRG brand further up the field, while his CRG teammate Brayden Robertson (Arcane-Tesoro Raceworx) closed out his weekend in fifth.
Florida native Steven Miller (CDR / Kart Republic) doubled up on wins in Greyhound Seats KA100 Junior, taking home another dominant victory by crossing the line 3.5 seconds in front of his nearest rival. After qualifying second to Victor de Alencar (Zanella Racing / Tony Kart), Miller went on to take victory in the Prefinal over title rival Ernesto Rivera (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic), who crossed the line 1.3 seconds back in the second spot. Miller showed his talent to full effect in the Final, having a relatively quiet race out front. Max Taylor (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic) made his way up the front pack to grab second, and was joined on the podium by Speed Concepts Racing driver Alex Mercado (Redspeed). Just outside the podium places, but still in the top five, was Shea Aldrich (Ryan Perry Motorsport / Tony Kart) who showing solid pace all weekend. Alencar had a strong weekend with a pair of pole positions, and he ended his weekend in fifth in the Sunday main event.
Mario Barrios (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic) was able to make up for his technical troubles on Saturday to take the win in Aspen Sport Fuel KA100 Master. Michel Garrido (Alessandros Racing / EOS) took the pole in qualifying and came across the line first during the Final, but a three-second pushback bumper penalty demoted him down to second, handing the win to Barrios. Garrido’s Alessandros Racing teammate Lucas Iglesias (Redspeed) completed the podium in third, 4.1 seconds back from the leader. Diego Rodriguez (Alessandros Racing / CRG) finished just off the podium, capping his day in fourth, with his Alessandros Racing teammate Jesus Portilo (Tony Kart) taking fifth.
Not surprisingly, the Evinco Tires Mini Swift main event was a battle from start to finish as a trio formed up front from the start, including Prefinal winner Tristan Murphy (RPM / Nitro Kart), Royce Vega (Team Benik / Benik), and Fion Shi (Tony Kart). As the laps wound down, Shi took over the lead as he and Murphy worked to pull away from the next group of five karts, although Saturday winner and Sunday top qualifier Kai Johnson (Team Benik / Benik) was also on the move and eventually took over the point with four to go, which packed up the front seven. The race started to boil over during the final two laps as Murphy slipped past Johnson for the lead, and then Ashton Woon (Supertune / Parolin) followed suit, moving him back to third. On the final lap, Shi slid inside Johnson in Turn 5, which provided the lead duo with some breathing room. Woon pushed to challenge Murphy for the win and was alongside coming out of Turn 12, but the Tennessee driver had a better run out of the corner and he kept Ashton at bay to edge him at the line by just 0.061 seconds. Shi held on for third to lock in his first SKUSA Pro Tour podium, while Vega was also able to get past Johnson on the final lap to steal fourth.
In the Sodi Racing USA Micro Swift class, SLA Karting’s Maxwell Macha (Parolin) swept the day, qualifying on the pole before going on to win both the Prefinal and the Final. Macha took the lead at the green flag, but it would all come down to the final laps with four drivers in the lead group. With three to go, Macha made a move past leader Gavin Dakay (Benik) and then Dakay also needed to battle with Saturday winner Juan Garciarce Davila. This back and forth allowed Macha to pull away and build an insurmountable gap, forcing the rest of the group to fight for second. Once out front, Macha was never challenged again enroute to a 2.125-second victory, although the dice behind him was extremely exciting to watch. Davila emerged from the group to finished second on-track, but a pushback bumper penalty dropped him down to six. This promoted Dakay to second and Santiago Diaz de la Vega (CRG) to third. Liam Nachawati (Parolin) and Josh Bergman (Sodi Kart) were right there as well, taking fourth and fifth in the final tally.
The 14th edition of the SKUSA Pro Tour is now underway and the national series will be back in action just over two months at the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele, Utah for the 14th annual SpringNationals on June 9-11.