Paddock Insider: 2023 Challenge of the Americas – Sonoma
EKN’s Paddock Insider is part of our Trackside coverage, bringing you notes, updates and breaking news as it happens. The article will feature notes from trackside at the 2023 Challenge of the Americas, with the final two rounds held on April 14-16 at the Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. This is insider info will not be seen anywhere else. Please feel free to comment and discuss our coverage and today’s action in the EKN Global Members Discussion area below.
Grass is Always Greener in Sonoma
Not typically, but it is nice to see green grass surrounding the karting circuit at Sonoma Raceway with the sun shining to close out the 16th season for Challenge of the Americas. Coming this late into ‘Wine Country’ the agriculture surrounding the track is burnt out, but with the ample amount of rain in the region, the grass is green for the mid-April weekend. Walk up entries showed up and have brought the total up to 117, matching that of the PKRA weekend last month. With six championships on the line, and the weather to be perfect all three days, it is setting up for a special series finale for the Challenge.
OK-N Third Event Updates
This weekend marks the third event for the new OK-N engine package introduced by FIA Karting. TM engine continues to be the trend despite the Modena and now the Vortex engine coming into the USA. All eight drivers on the grid this weekend are on the TM engine. Blake Nash tested the Vortex on Thursday, however, the limited time with the engine and the $500 to win, and $500 bounty on him for the weekend he has elected to race with the TM engine. What is new will be the format for the weekend. Qualifying and three heats on Saturday with a Prefinal and Final for Sunday.
Added to the class this weekend are karting veterans Derek Wang and Billy Cleavelin, both Masters champions at the Challenge and making their OK-N debut. They commented on how the engine has power, but the range of that power is narrow before it hits the rev limiter. Carburation is a key aspect to eliminate the lag on exit of the corner, so that is something both are experimenting with throughout the two days of testing here in Sonoma.
Sodi Racing USA in Full Support of The Karting Collective
It has been a busy three months since the launch of Sodi Racing USA. The resurgence of the Sodikart brand in the United States is the focus for Thierry Germanovitch. His partnership with Piquet Sports in Florida is helping to build on the eastern front, while connecting with longtime Sodi driver and team owner Nic LeDuc on the west has been a key component. Germanovitch stated that continuing the relationship with LeDuc’s The Karting Collective was first on the list when Sodi Racing USA began. A full tent this weekend with drivers in multiple categories, including British driver Harley Keeble racing in the Senior 100cc. Keeble made his USA debut at the SKUSA Pro Tour WinterNationals two weeks ago, and Thierry brought him to California to help with the Sodikart drivers here in Sonoma.