EKN Trackside: 2023 United States Pro Kart Series – Texas Grand Prix – Friday Report
Meza and Rivera double up for fast time with Formal topping the charts in shifter
Helio Meza was able to secure fast time in both X30 Pro and KA100 Senior during qualifying (Photo: Studio52.us)
The second event of the 2023 United States Pro Kart Series is underway at the Speedsportz Racing Park with the Texas Grand Prix. Four rounds of practice along with qualifying were held at the New Caney, Texas facility on a warm, humid Friday. Roughly 285 entries set the tone for the opening day and the eight categories battling on the weekend. Leading the day were Helio Meza and Ernesto Rivera as they set fast time in both X30 and KA100 categories for Senior and Junior. Danny Formal continued the momentum from the inaugural Pro Shifter win in Orlando to set pace in qualifying.
Home track knowledge, and a little bit of a tow helped to put Senior rookie Helio Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) on the pole position for the weekend in the Franklin Motorsports X30 Pro division. Meza, the 2022 KA100 Junior champion, was able to get behind two-time defending champion Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) for the five-lap qualifying session. Meza put down a 52.058 lap to secure the top time, while Norberg recorded the eighth quickest lap of the session. EKN TaG Driver Rankings #3 Diego Ramos (PSL / Birel ART) was only off by 74 thousandths with Alessandro de Tullio (Prime / Birel ART) within 84 thousandths. British driver Harley Keeble (Piquet / Sodi Kart) – making his first USPKS start – was fourth while Blake Nash (Nash / EOS) completed the fast five. Championship leader Brandon Carr (RPM / Tony Kart) was sixth with Orlando winner Arias Deukmedjian (CDR / Kart Republic) back in 24th along with championship contender Pauly Massimino (BJR / LN Racing Kart) in 14th.
Before that, the Mike Doty Racing KA100 Senior class took to the track for their qualifying session, splitting up the 58 drivers in attendance. Meza (IRM / Tony Kart) was able to secure his first top qualifier honor in only his second start in the category, laying down a 54.913 lap to clear the field by over a tenth. Texas driver John Burke (Tesoro / CRG) was second with championship contender Josh Campbell (RPM / Tony Kart) in third. Mexico driver Ivanna Richards (HRI / Tony Kart) put another rookie in the fast five with defending champion Alex Stanfield (GWR / Gillard) making his first start of the season, ending up fifth. Championship leader and Orlando winner Christian Miles (MDR / LN Racing Kart) struggled on the day, ending up 27th while Aiden Levy (Team Tarp / Alonso Kart) – second in points – was back in 17th.
The SRP Engines Pro Shifter session saw Orlando winner Danny Formal (RPG / Kosmic) continue the momentum into Texas. Formal was able to lay down a 49.701-lap time to clear the 16-driver field by over a tenth. AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA) was second with defending SKUSA champion Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) in third. Giorgio Carrara (IM / Lenzo Kart) and recent Challenge double winner Hunter Pickett (PSL / Birel ART) rounded out the fast five.
Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) continues to set the mark in the Junior categories, earning top qualifier honors in both the Rolison Performance Group X30 Junior and BBS Racing Engines KA100 Junior divisions. KA100 Junior was first on the track for each session, and Rivera edged out Payton Westcott (Nash / EOS) by 30 thousandths of a second with a 55.745 lap. Turner Brown (SCR / Redspeed) made it two California drivers into the top-three with Salvador della Vecchia (CDR / Kart Republic) and Justin Music (Arcane / Redspeed) completing the fast five. Championship leader Steven Miller (CDR / Kart Republic) ended up ninth in the session.
Rivera would later clear the X30 field in qualifying by two tenths of a second with a 53.435 lap time, making his last lap the best of the session. Diego Guiot (IRM / Tony Kart) put in the second-best time ahead of top Happy Hour driver Jackson Wolny (RPG / Kosmic), Teddy Musella (RPG / Kosmic) and Enzo Vidmontiene (MottazSport / Parolin).
It was surprise result in the Speed Concepts Racing KA100 Masters qualifying session. On the final circuit, privateer and race official from Orlando Adam Crepin (Gillard) was able to put down the quickest lap of the session, a 55.931 to claim the top qualifier honors for the first time in the class. Danillo Ramalho (Piquet / Sodi Kart) was the top driver throughout the session, but was unable to better his time on the final circuit. Only 16 thousandths separated the top two with Orlando winner Mike Rolison (RPG / Kosmic) off by only 74 thousandths. Niki Coello (FMS / Merlin) and Tommy Andersen (HDD / Exprit) rounded out the fast five. Championship leader Martin Stone (REM / Kosmic) suffered a broken throttle on the warm-up lap and was forced to retire, putting him back in 19th for the three heat races on Saturday.
The top time in the DNJ International Services Mini Swift class went down the wire as well. Rocco Simone (MottazSport / Parolin) jumped up to the top of the order on the final circuit, posting a 58.293 lap time to edge out Marco Romero (Team Benik) by 22 thousandths. Championship leader and Orlando winner Lucas Palacio (Team Tarp / Kart Republic) improved his qualifying result from the Southern Grand Prix to sit third for the heat races on Saturday, ahead of Travis Pettit (Trinity / Kart Republic) and Texas driver Royce Vega (Team Benik).
Championship leader and Orlando winner Parker Ives (RPM / Nitro Kart) set fast time in the Team Ferris Racing Micro Swift session. A 59.521 lap put Ives on the pole position for the three heat races, as it cleared Kade Kaspar (Trackside / GFC) by 74 thousandths. Liam Nachawati (Parolin USA) was third with Tanner Barsch (MSL / Birel ART) and Pasha Ali (Parolin USA) completing the fast five.
The racing takes over on Saturday morning with three rounds of heat races to decide the grids for the main events to take place on Sunday. 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 beginning with qualifying on Friday. Listen to the racing action by heading to the EKN Live page or tune in on the EKN Radio Network.