EKN Trackside: Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 26 – Thursday Report
Garrison claims X30 top spot as Gulick emerges from wild Pro Shifter situation
The Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 26 is officially underway outside the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Following a full day of practice, track layout adjustment, and a wild ending to the on-track action on Thursday, qualifying has set the tone for the remainder of the event – dramatic. The morning group sessions went relatively normal for the four classes setting their grids for the heat races. The afternoon groups hit the track as the sun was setting behind the Nevada mountains and ended with a wild and unique situation that had not been seen before in SuperNationals history.
Pro Shifter presented by PSL Karting was the final class on the order, split up into four groups. The first three were not as dramatic as the final group, hosting 18 of the quickest drivers in the category. On lap two, an incident involving FIA European Champion Danilo Albanese (IM / Kart Republic) brought out a full course caution and eventually the checkered flag. Drivers were put into the scale line, with nearly all drivers unable to complete a lap ‘at’ or ‘near’ regular pace. SKUSA officials debriefed and nearly 45 minutes to an hour later, the drivers from that final session were brought back out onto the circuit for a makeup session in which all drivers clocked in five laps. Prior to that session, Luis Speck (Racelab / TB Kart) was holding the provisional fast time from the Q2 group. Once the final session was completed, it was a GFC Karting 1-2 with Jacob Gulick taking the top honors posting a 42.150 lap. Former SKUSA Pro Tour champion Kyle Wick was second, edging out Speck by 16 thousandths. Canadian Remo Ruscitti (IM USA / Italkart) was fourth with SuperNationals 24 winner Matteo Vigano (PSL / Charles Leclerc) rounding out the fast five. The first half of Q1 including SKUSA Pro Tour champion Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) – who ended up going from provisionally second to sixth.
The X30 Senior presented by Rolison Performance Group was much simpler. Austin Garrison (SCR / Redspeed) is not stranger to performing well at the SuperNationals, placing in S2 during the 2014 edition. The Florida driver was able to put together a strong lap – 46.293 – to claim this year’s top qualifier honor. It was only 10 thousandths that kept German driver Elie Goldstein (Racelab / TB Kart) from stealing the top spot. Senior rookie Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) continues to impress in his early move up the ranks to clock in the third quickest lap while Noah Baker (SCR / Redspeed) was a surprise driver inside the fast five, ending up in fourth ahead of Senior rookie Jesus Vasquez Jr. (Nash / EOS). Five-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) was seventh in the session.
The KA100 Senior presented by RLV welcomed another first-time top qualifier in Aden Rudolph (PSL / Birel ART). The second-generation driver jumped to the top of the time sheet at the end of the fast group session, posting a 48.109 lap time. Senior rookie Fernando Luque (Supertune / Tony Kart) was off by 27 thousandths with Rock Island Grand Prix King of the Rock winner Chase Jones (MPG / Kart Republic) a very close third. Senior rookie Jesus Vasquez Jr. (Nash / EOS) earned his first of two fast-five results on the day with fourth while three-time SKUSA Pro Tour race winner Harley Keeble (Sodi Racing USA) in fifth.
A similar result at the top of the order took place in the Master Shifter presented by Peterson Wealth Management. Multi-time world champion Davide Fore (IM USA / Italkart) repeated as top qualifier in the category, laying down a 42.493 lap time. This year, five-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Jordon Musser (PSL / Birel ART) avoided issues in the session to end up second, but back by nearly three tenths. Class rookie Robert Bujdoso (Checkered / Magik Kart) – making his first SuperNats start since 2015 in S2, was third in the order ahead of Vincent Cossard (RWR / CRG) and podium finisher from last year Scott Presti (RS Kart). Defending race winner Antonio Pizzonia Jr. (Orsolon / Birel ART) was back in seventh behind fellow podium finisher from 2022 Scott ‘Skitchy’ Barnes (Checkered / Magik Kart).
The top of the order is talented in the KA100 Master presented by International Motorsport. Laurentiu Mardan (Tecno Kart) locked fast time of the session with his final circuit, a 49.104 to edge out two-time SuperNationals winner Ben Cooper (RPG / Kosmic) by two thousandths of a second. Four-time SKUSA SuperNationals winner Kip Foster (PSL / Birel ART) was third in his class debut while KC Cook (CB / Tony Kart) – battling Cystic Fibrosis – put in a stellar performance to be fourth at the end of the session. Matthew Waters (RPG / Kosmic) made it two Aussies inside the fast-five in his SuperNationals debut. Defending race winner Martin Stone (RPM / Tony Kart) ended up back in 18th.
One of the bigger surprises on the day came in the X30 Junior presented by Speedlab Racing Engines. Alex Mercado (SCR / Redspeed) was the driver to navigate the temporary circuit the quickest with a 47.495 lap time. Only 34 thousandths separated him and Aussie Brodie Yendle (RPG / Kosmic) in the session. Charlie Smith and Steven Miller gave Nash Motorsportz the complete second row for all heat races while Diego Ardiles (RPG / Kosmic) capped off the fast-five.
One of the top contenders in the KA100 Junior presented by Evinco Tires has been Enzo Vidmontiene (TKG / Kart Republic). A winner on the SKUSA Pro Tour, the Florida driver laid down a 48.881 lap to secure the top spot. Junior rookie Isaac Malcuit (MMK / Kart Republic) was second, off by only 53 thousandths while Diego Ardiles (RPG / Kosmic) was third. Oliver Wheldon (JC / LN Racing Kart) and Alex Mercado (SCR / Redspeed) completed the fast five.
The 48-driver field in the Mini Swift presented by Trinity Karting Group is going to be a tight one. Troy Ferguson (Team Benik) was able to strike first, setting fast time in qualifying. A lap time of 52.661 landed him at the top of the order, edging out teammate Royce Vega by only 13 thousandths. Max Cristea (TKG / Kart Republic) was third in the order while Canadian Ilie Tristan Crisan (RPG / Kosmic) was fourth. SKUSA Pro Tour race winner Travis Pettit (TKG / Kart Republic) rounded out the fast five while SKUSA Pro Tour champion Lucas Palacio (TKG / Kart Republic) was back in 24th position at the end of the session.
A first ever SKUSA top qualifier honor went to Pasha Ali (Sodi Racing USA) in the Micro Swift presented by Sodi Racing USA. A 53.215 lap was his final circuit, clearing the 45-driver field by over three tenths. USPKS champion Parker Ives (RPM / Nitro Kart) was second with Josh Bergman (Sodi Racing USA) in third. Juan Diego Garciarce (Orsolon / Parolin) was fourth with Kade Kaspar (TKS / GFC) in fifth.
Friday brings the first wheel-to-wheel action of the SKUSA SuperNationals 26, as both the morning and afternoon groups will contest Heat 1 and Heat 2 action outside the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.