EKN Trackside: 2023 United States Pro Kart Series Ohio Grand Prix – Sunday Report
Keeble claims first in X30 Pro as Myers completes weekend sweep in Pro Shifter
The fourth round of the 2023 United States Pro Kart Series came to a close on Sunday with the final action completed at the Ohio Grand Prix. The amazing Motorsports Country Club of Cincinnati Kart Plex played host to the penultimate round of the championship chase. Comfortable weather compared to the previous three days in Batavia, Ohio greeted the eight categories contesting the main events to decide the event’s winners.
The Franklin Motorsports X30 Pro category welcomed a fourth different winner on the season. Joe Turney (CDR / Kart Republic) and Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) were the class of the field throughout Saturday, and led the 22-driver field to the green flag for the 20-lap main event. The action began early as Norberg was shuffled back down the order from the outside, ending up in 14th as they completed the opening lap. Harley Keeble (Piquet / Sodi Kart) challenged Turney to take the lead on the opening lap. Turney fought back and claimed the position and pulled a little gap. Keeble reeled him back in, and the fighting continued over the remaining laps. Several drivers were in the mix, including Blake Nash (Nash / EOS), championship leader Diego Ramos (PSL / Birel ART) and others. Toward the end, Norberg was able to climb back into the top three, making it Keeble, Turney and Norberg. Defensive racing by Keeble brought back the rest of the group, and more shuffling took place with Turney getting dropped and then Norberg a lap later. Keeble held on through the end, reaching the checkered flag first to claim his first USPKS X30 Senior victory, becoming the fourth different winner of the season. Ramos ended with a solid points day, earning his second podium of the season with a runner-up finish. New Castle winner Austin Garrison (SCR / Redspeed) overcame issues on the weekend, climbing 16 spots to take the third step on the podium. Nicholas Terlecki (HDD / Exprit) also improved on the day, climbing nine spots up to fourth. Norberg completed the top-five, finishing just ahead of Turney.
AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA) became the first two-time winner in the SRP Engine Pro Shifter category. It was Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) who came away with the holeshot and fought off a challenge by Myers in the opening corners to lead the way. The contact in turn three with Kremers dropped Myers down to fourth in the opening lap behind Tahlon Yockel (Magik Kart USA) and Davide Greco (PSL / Birel ART). Kremers led until Myers was able to recover back into second, and then on lap five, returned the favor with a strong move into turn three. Kremers dropped a wheel but was able to continue, as Myers gapped him in the next few corners. A slight error the following lap cost Kremers positions until he regained a few back. Then, the exhaust disconnected from itself, ending his race. Myers drove away to a 5.7 second victory over teammate Yockel, who earned his first USPKS podium finish. Greco completed the podium in third, his first trip to the steps as well. Michael Riccio (Magik Kart USA) made it two Canadians in the top-five, placing fourth with Gavin Bayliff (TKG / Kart Republic) overcoming issues throughout the weekend to gain five spots in the main event.
The battle in the Mike Doty Racing KA100 Senior class was a three-way fight for the victory that went down to the very end. It was four early with New Castle winner Cooper Shipman (IRM / Tony Kart) in the mix, however, a mechanical issue put him on the sidelines early. Pole sitter Harley Keeble (Piquet / Sodi Kart) was joined at the front by Finnegan Bayliff (TKG / Kart Republic) and Emerson Reed (RPM / Tony Kart). The three were able to pull away from the rest of the field without mixing positions until about four laps remaining. That is when Reed moved himself into the second spot and then attacked for the lead on the final circuit. Keeble ran the defensive line down into the first turn, and Reed pulled off a great over-under to take the lead through turns two and three. Bayliff followed him through to drop Keeble to third. As they came around to the turn seven hairpin, Bayliff made a move for the lead and Keeble made a late charge inside both. It worked, and Keeble went from third to first, with a little contact on the exit with Bayliff. He went off track, allowing Reed to come through along with Connor Ferris (TFR / Kart Republic) – who was sitting back in fourth. Reed tried one last move on Keeble in the tight turn 14, but it was not enough as Keeble reached the checkered flag first. Tech inspection however decided the victory as Keeble was removed from the results following post-race tech. That promoted Reed to the top of the podium, earning his first USPKS win since 2013 in Yamaha Junior. Ferris – who came up from 12th – was classified in second with Bayliff in third. James Overbeck (MDR / Tony Kart) had fast lap of the race, moving up four spots to fourth with Senior rookie Eli Warren (Redspeed) advancing five spots to fifth.
Turner Brown (SCR / Redspeed) was able to earn victory in his first USPKS start in the Rolison Performance Group X30 Junior category. The opening lap, contact dropped pole sitter and three-time winner Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) down to the 13th spot. Canadian Nathan Dupuis (SCR / Redspeed) led for the opening lap until Brown and Enzo Vidmontiene (MottazSport / Kart Republic) pushed past. The two were able to break away from the rest of the field as they fought behind them for position. Brown led the majority of the race until Vidmontiene began to challenge. He took over the lead on lap 17, but trouble struck with coming to the white flag as he lost his chain on the exit of turn two. This allowed Brown to run unchallenged to the checkered flag, claiming his first USPKS victory in the category. Rivera was able to fight his way through the field to place second – ending his win streak at three but helping to secure what should be the class championship. Jackson Wolny (RPG / Kosmic) placed third as Sarah Bradley (SCR / Redspeed) had her best result of the season, placing fourth ahead of former USPKS champion Keelan Harvick (RPG / Kosmic), also making his first USPKS start in the class.
The BBS Racing Engines KA100 Junior class featured a great battle all race long. Early shuffling included pole sitter Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic), Austin Olds (MPG / DAP) and Turner Brown (SCR / Redspeed). Lap nine, Rivera was shuffled back to sixth as Brown was able to gain a comfortable lead over the rest of the field. As Brown led, Rivera was charging forward, gaining positions and reaching the second spot by lap 14. It took only four laps to cut into the advantage Brown had, and Rivera went quickly on the attack to regain the lead. Rivera quickly gapped Brown and drove away to his third victory on the season. Brown held off late charge by Olds to finish runner-up with Diego Ardiles (RPG / Kosmic) right there in fourth and Isaac Malcuit (Gillard) gaining 13 positions to round out the top-five.
Mike Rolison (RPG / Kosmic) was able to claim his third victory of the season in the Speed Concepts Racing KA100 Masters class. Rolison led the field to the green flag and retain the lead through the opening corners with New Castle winner Laurentiu Mardan (Tecno Kart USA) slotting into second. Contact shuffled up the order early with Jamie Sieracki (FMS / Merlin) and Clay Settles (Top Kart) making contact on lap two, while Andy Kutscher (Redspeed) was turned around with Mario Barrios (RPG / Kosmic) fighting for third on lap five. Rolison was never challenged as Mardan was unable to keep up the pace, with the margin of victory over five seconds after 20 laps. Niki Coello (FMS / Gillard) ended up third ahead of Miguel Mier (Orsolon / Tony Kart). Settles advanced back from the contact, coming from 13th to end up fifth, just ahead of TJ Nevels in his first start of the year. Nevels was piloting a 17 year old Merlin chassis, running within a few tenths of the leader by the end of the weekend.
The DNJ International Services Mini Swift category opened up the main event action, with the 31-drivers taking the green flag. Marco Romero (Benik) led the field to the green flag and held the top spot for seven laps. That was until an issue with his brakes put him on the sidelines and out of the race. This moved the fight for second into the battle for the lead. Two-time winner Lucas Palacio (TKG / Kart Republic) and Royce Vega (Team Benik) were among the leaders in the fight. Coming to the white flag, Palacio was able to secure the spot and gain real estate over the rest of the drivers battling. That was the winning move as Palacio drove to his third victory, crossing the line by 2.9 seconds ahead. On the final lap, Vega was shuffled out of the top-10 as Marco Sammut (MDR / LN Racing Kart) inched his way forward all day, climbing seven spots to claim his best finish of the season with a runner-up result. Max Cristea (MottazSport / Parolin) – making his first start since Speedsportz – gained five spots overall to place third for his best finish of 2023. Ashton Woon (Supertune / Parolin) slipped by in the end, gaining 10 spots over the 18 laps to finish fourth with Rocco Simone (MottazSport / Parolin) ending up fifth.
The Team Ferris Racing Micro Swift class welcomed a first-time winner. The 36-driver field was led to the green flag by three-time race winner Parker Ives (RPM / Nitro Kart). He led the opening three laps until he and Josh Bergman (Piquet / Sodi Kart) fell down the order. Ives slipped to 11th near the halfway point while Bergman retired early. Multiple drivers led, including Zayne Burgess (Piquet / Sodi Kart), top qualifier Colton Schniegenberg (GWR / Energy) and Aston Wyatt (Speedsportz / Birel ART) – who started 13th. It was Wyatt that jumped out to a solid lead but was eventually run down by Enzo DiGennaro (TFR / Kart Republic), coming up from 11th on the grid. DiGennaro took the lead on lap 15, and from there was able to hold off Wyatt to claim his first USPKS victory. Wyatt made a last run at the checkered flag, coming up 51 thousandths short. Mikha Barroukh (Parolin USA) also gained 11 spots in the race, placing third for his best finish of 2023. Emerson Laine (TKG / Kart Republic) was fourth with Juan Diego Garciarce (Orsolon / Parolin) completing the top-five. Ives was able to fight back up to sixth by the checkered flag.
Four rounds completed, one remaining as the championships for the 2023 United States Pro Kart Series will be decided at the Carolina Grand Prix on a special event format on October 4-7 – a Wednesday to Saturday structure at the Trackhouse Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina. The year-end awards ceremony will then take place on Sunday, October 8.