Race Report: IKF Northern California Sprint Kart Series – Santa Maria
Santa Maria Kart Track played host to the fourth round in the 2023 season for the IKF NorCal Sprint Series, welcoming teams and drivers with perfect weather all weekend. But while the coastal weather was predictably mild, the on track actual was hot and heavy, with one word summing up the results: unpredictable. The twists and turns of the 7/10 of a mile “Layout K” offered up quite the challenge, and in the end, it was those that could stay mistake free and consistent that won the day. And of course with this being the penultimate round in the championship, points were the talk of the town from the drop of the green in qualifying.
It was the championship contenders setting the tone early in Jr 1 206 presented by Speedsense Motorsports, however one driver pressured the status quo to play the spoiler. Byron Borneman was a regular site at the front all weekend long, and kept the protagonists honest from the get go, just missing out on hardware in the end. Striking first however was round #1 winner Floyd Frisby, clocking top time in qualifying, while backing that up by sweeping the heat races on Saturday. Meanwhile, title hopeful Aiden Go pushed to capitalize on the woes that point leader Kayden Williams all weekend, the latter struggle with motor issues down the straights at Santa Maria. Go put together solid heats and Pre-Final and found himself in prime position to have a shot at the win, with Firsby out early in the Prefinal, and coming from the back in the Final. Come from the back he did though, and after a handful of laps Frisby was in the lead, bolstered by contact between Go and Borneman for the lead. It would all go sour for Frisby though, suffering a mechanical and exiting early, awarder the lead to the Williams, who desperately tried to hold off Go. Aiden would not be denied however, and would pick up hi first win of the year, with Willams settle for a salvaged P2. Rounding out the podium was a bounce-back performance from Rylee Graves, who after being forced to exit early in the Pre-Final due to no fault of her own, fought back to score her first piece of hardware in the 2023 season.
Jameson Gwinup carried his increased pace from Medford in to Santa Maria, and struck first with pole position for Jr 2 206 presented by Cole Nelson Racing/Invader. But perhaps more in this class that any other would the unpredictable nature of the weekend show through, with multiple front runners having issues at some point in the weekend. The aforementioned Gwinup backed up his pole with a P3 and P2 in the heats, before getting collected in an incident while fighting in the top three which took him out early in the Pre-Final. Also involved in that was Nate Spitz and Jeremy Heather, the former continuing on to fight in the Final. Gwinup wasn’t so lucky in the Final, as he would be knocked out prior to the start, as his rear bumper would detach itself and he was left with a ‘what could have been’? Instead, it would be another set of drivers looking to play spoiler among the season regulars, with Buttonwillow standouts Gavin McCune and Stephen Searock both showing extreme speed, and taking the fight to the front. In the final the pair would break away from the infighting behind, with McCune finding the victory that eluded him at round #2, while Searock settled for a hard fought second. The fight for third was a great one too, with Spitz crossing the line just ahead of Bristol Borneman, and Kaleb Chenault.
Zach Sanborn put together the perfect weekend in Masters 206 class presented by Unleashed Power, taking down his first win of the year, but perhaps more importantly is the point lead heading into the season Finale. Joining him on the podium were one-off entries Ian Graves and David VanMuyden, scoring 2nd and 3rd respectively. Legends class presented by Step Up Karting, saw point leader Paul Booher again as the one to beat, albeit much closer than we have seen in some of the races early in the season. In fact, the pressure was on all weekend long; first from round #1 winner Frank Chavez, and then in the final, Chris Britton struck out at the lead, and it was Booher falling to the back, eventually retiring with a supposed mechanical. Britton then tried to fend off the charge from Chavez, who would capitalize through the final complex to steal away the lead, and eventually come to his 2nd win – and second podium of the season. Chris Britton would be awarded second, with Mike Vanmuyden in third, that latter two nearly identical in the fight for the final hardware spot in the championship.
Senior 206 presented by GFC put on a barn burn for the final on Sunday, and was by far one of the most exciting races of the season so far. In qualifying it was hometown star Sophia Storey nabbing top time over title contender Kade Godbehere by just 0.002 seconds, while Colby Romero salvaged a P3 after multiple offs while trying to go quickest. Once racing commenced however, Romero showed he had a little more in the tank, and would sweep the heats and the Pre-Final to line up P1 in the Final. Storey looked content to play the pusher, and the pair would cross the line comfortably 1-2 via that smart driving. It could have been further front he case for Godbehere however, exiting early in the first heat with a broken bumper, and then his 2nd heat was hampered by bent steering to only achieve 10th. However, he was back in the conversation for the final after making it up to 4th in the Pre-Final, and it was these three that fought for the win for 22 laps. They would first have to dispatch round #3 winner William Wallis, who was quick early, but by halfway the other three were able to stretch things out. In the closing laps it was a battle royal, with all three trading spots, and Romero forced to come from third with less than 2 to go. Romero took a popular win -his first of the season- Storey settled for 2nd, while Godbehere scored valuable points to have the lead after drops heading into the season finale in Corning.
The IKF NorCal Sprint Kart Series caps off the 2023 season with a special temporary circuit in Corning, CA September 15-17, with details coming soon! For more info on that event, championship points, full results and more, check out norcalsks.com!
Full Round #4 Results: https://speedhive.mylaps.com/Events/2308270
Championship Standings: https://speedhive.mylaps.com/Organizations/54390/Championships