The Rotax Max Challenge USA racers invaded Norman, Oklahoma this weekend for the second annual Rotax Summer Shootout held at the Oklahoma Motorsports Complex. The race gives everyone a chance to get dialed in for the Rotax Grand Nationals to be held here in September. Teams and drivers from all over the country, and some of the Rotax friends from Mexico were in attendance. Heavy rainfall on Thursday night left some standing water in a few places around the facility, but all was dry by the end of Friday’s practice. The track was ready for the action on Saturday. Sunday morning came around and the paddock was buzzing with action already. The sun was just coming up and the air was cool. As I drove to the track, I was treated to a beautiful view of fog over the Oklahoma Bermuda fields. Teams and drivers were making last minute adjustments and getting ready for Sunday’s rushed schedule. Many people had stayed up late trying to get that extra speed needed to make a good showing today.
The Senior Max was exciting to watch all day as some of the top drivers from around the country were still trying to get a handle on the OMC track and qualified in the middle of the field. Others were dialed in and were fast from morning warm ups on. Gregory Liefooghe of Leading Edge Motorsports was showing the way from the drop of the green flag in the pre final with Andrew Hawkins of DeFrancesco Racing hot on his heels laying down the fast lap of the session. But the final was all Liefooghe. He jumped out to the early lead from the pole position and never looked back taking the win with ease. Zack Beard of MRP Birel America came from eighth place to finish second. Ryan Kinnear of Champion Racing started seventh after working his up from twenty first in the pre final to finish on the third step of the podium. Joey Wimsett of Champion Racing started fourth and finished fourth after falling as far back to seventh and working his way back into position to challenge for a podium. Hawkins started second but was shuffled back to round out the top five at the end.
Joey Wimsett struggled with engine set up on Saturday and could only fight his way to the fourth spot. That was not the case Sunday as Brett Berryhill had his engine working well from the drop of the green in morning warm ups. Wimsett set fast time in qualifying with a 46.117, and never looked back. Andrew Hawkins was second fastest just 0.099 behind, Saturday’s winner Gregory Liefooghe just 0.269 behind Wimsett. The pre final was pretty much the same story with Wimsett taking the early lead and holding it to the checkered flag. Hawkins and Liefooghe were second and third. The final started with a large number of karts getting tangled up in turn one, collecting a number of top drivers and some from Saturday’s podium. Zach Beard and Ryan Kinnear were among the drivers involved. Beard would end up watching the race from the infield as Kinnear fought his way back to a sixth place finish. Wimsett however, was the hot shoe of the day taking the win by 4.730 seconds over Liefooghe who was 3.9 seconds ahead of the third place Stepanova Nekeel of Rolison Performance. Wes Phillips worked his way from seventh to fourth with Oscar Luebbert Camarago finishing fifth. The overall trophy for the weekend went to Liefooghe with Wimsett in second and Kinnear in the third spot, making it an all Intrepid podium.
Louie Pagano won the battle Sunday but Alec Udell (261) won the Rotax Junior war to take the overall victory
(Photo: Galen Kurth)
Junior Max was the Alec and Sebastian show. Alec Udell of Club Mini Max and Sebastian Ordonez of RDD Motorsports battled back and forth in the pre final and the final with Udell pulling out to a 1.236 second lead at the finish to take the top spot on the podium. Dore Chaponick of DeFrancesco Racing took the third spot a little over five seconds back. Louie Pagano fought hard to a fourth place finish with Brennan Harrington of Chicago Indoor Racing rounding out the fifth spot. Over all this was some good racing that saw some of the faster drivers having mechanical issues and keeping them out of contention.
Louie Pagano (Birel) was top of the charts at the end of qualifying with a 46.029, Mason Chelootz (Top Kart) found that extra speed to put him on the outside pole just 0.051 back. Alec Udell would start in the third spot. The pre final was all Dore Chaponick taking the win by 1.284 seconds over Udell, Pagano and Chelootz, setting up one whale of a fight in the final. When the green flag dropped on the final, Chaponick, Udell, Pagano, Chelootz and Jake French of 3G Intrepid were locked nose to tail after turn one and swapped the lead several times throughout the entire twenty five laps, making it a five kart battle going down to the last turn of the last lap before anyone could say how this would get settled. In the end Pagano made his way to the front to take the win over Udell by just 0.021seconds. Chaponick crossed the line in third with French and Chelootz on his bumper for fourth and fifth. Overall for the weekend it was Udell on top with Pagono second, Chaponick third, Ordonez fourth and Chelootz fifth.
Brad Smith of Kart South had made the trip to tune for Bruce Guthrie and had no intention on racing this weekend. After morning warm-ups, his driver came in with a broken rib (this is a real possibility at OMC). This left Brad with the choice of packing it in or getting in the kart himself. He made the decision to go ahead and race since they had spent the time to come all the way from North Carolina. Whatever he had done to the kart must have been the correct set-up because from the out-lap he set the fast time in qualifying and showed the way in the pre final. At the start of the final, Smith was shuffled back to fifth in turn one with Mario Garcia taking the early lead. Andy Seesemann of Full Throttle Karting was a close second with Mike Daniel, DJ Ortiz and Smith chasing him. As the laps clicked off, Smith worked his way back up to challenge Seesemann and Garcia. Seesemann and Smith finally worked their way past Garcia and swapped the lead a few times. At the checkered flag, it was Smith with the win, three tenths of a second over Seesemann. Mike Daniel worked his CRG up into the third podium spot, and Garcia fell to fourth. J. Mark Krivanek ran a consistent race to round out the top five.
Mike Daniel edged Andy Seesemann for the Sunday feature win to take the overall victory
(Photo: Galen Kurth)
The Masters class had a number of drivers with sore ribs. In qualifying it was Jason Bell of Highway Systems Incorporated was top of the charts with a 47.107. Paul Bonilla of Full Throttle Karting was second, just 0.111 seconds behind with Mike Daniel qualifying third 0.132 off the pole. In the pre final, it was all Daniel as he finished three seconds ahead of Bonilla and J. Mark Krivanek. In the final Daniel jumped out in front and pretty much ran away with the race and the overall win. Seesemann worked his way up from his fifth place starting position to take the second step of the podium along with the second place overall. Krivanek held on for the third spot, earning him the third place overall for the weekend. Garcia was fourth overall and Bonilla was fifth.
This was the smallest class of the day, yet it provided some of the most exciting racing. The top three karts went back and forth changing positions at every turn of every lap, sometimes going into turn one three wide. It was also the cleanest driving witnessed on this day. While swapping the lead, they never once swapped paint. In the last three laps the three karts that could be covered by a small blanket were finally settling the fight. Matt Ostiguy pulled out to a six tenths lead for the win over Zach Beard of MRP Birel America who was pulling double duty today in the senior and DD2. Carlos Duenas took the third spot on the podium and after the race was in agony with sore ribs. Carlos Medina put in a good effort to finish fourth and Nathan Mauel rounded out the top five.
The track took it’s tole on the DD2 drivers Saturday, making for some very sore ribs in this class. Over half of the field from Saturday decided to sit out the Sunday races leaving just two in the class. Matt Ostiguy and Carlos Medina were all that was left. Ostiguy lead the whole day with relative ease and seemed to be on cruise control, taking the final and the overall wins. Medina was second overall for the weekend.
Matt Ostiguy (17) held off Zach Beard (06) for the Saturday win and went unchallenged to the Sunday victory
(Photo: Star Imaging)
Before I get started with Mini Max I want to wish one of the drivers a Happy Birthday. Nathan Adds turned 11 years old today and chose to spend his day racing with us. I promised his mother to announce his birthday while he was on the grid and I just spaced out due to the many hats I am wearing this weekend. I hope this makes up for it. Now, onto the report.
In qualifying, Dalton Sargeant of RDD Motorsports laid down a fast time of 48.431, nine tenths ahead of second place qualifier Ethan Low. Dalton Sargeant and Ethan Low made up the first row with Kyle Kirkwood and Timothy Reger competing row two. The final was all Sargeant. From the drop of the green Sargeant checked out and never looked back, finishing six seconds ahead of Thomas Issa who came from his seventh place starting spot to take the second step of the podium. Kyle Kirkwood came home in third. Patricio O’Ward was fourth with Garrett Sargeant rounding out the top five. Ethan Low was penalized for a driving infraction and was moved from fourth to fourteenth.
On Sunday, one name stood out more than any other as it did on Saturday, Dalton Sargeant. He was the dominant force over the entire weekend and Sunday was no exception, taking the pole, the pre final, and simply checking out in the final. Kirkwood, of Advanced Karting, and Patricio O’Ward, of BTK Motorsports, battled back and forth for the second spot with Kirkwood edging out O’Ward. Austin Verteeg made his way to the fourth place bringing Issa to a fifth place finish. It was Sargeant with the overall win with Kirkwood second, O’Ward third, Versteeg fourth, and Garrett Sargeant fifth.
Juan Buitrago laid down the fastest lap in qualifying with a 54.011, but was penalized a half a second for a tech violation moving him to fifth place for the start of the pre final. This gave Matthew Thomas the pole and Logan Sargeant outside pole. In the pre final, Buitrago quickly worked his way up to P1 bringing Devlin Defrancesco with him. On lap seven, DeFrancesco tangled with Buitrago going into one of the fastest turns on the track, sending Buitrago’s kart flipping no less than 10 feet in the air over four to five times. The race was red flagged and called a finish at that point. Both drivers were ok but the wreck ended Buitrago’s day. In the final, Sargeant and DeFrancesco battled to the end with Sargeant taking the ever so close win by 0.018 seconds. Antony Ganji Jr. finished third, Brandon Traw was fourth with Mike Hewitt rounding out the top five.
Logan Sargeant was fastest in Sunday qualifying, just 0.252 seconds over DeFrancesco. Thomas was third and Buitrago was fourth despite his very scary flip on Saturday. DeFrancesco took the win in the pre final over Sargeant with Traw finishing third. Buitrago had gotten tangled up with David Malukas and watched most of the race from the infield. In the final, Buitrago made his way quickly thru the field to mix it up with Sargeant, Thomas and DeFrancesco. The lead changed so fast and so often during the final, that it was hard to keep up while announcing the race. In the end it was Sargeant edging out Buitrago for the win with Thomas in third, DeFrancesco fourth and Malukas in fifth. This gave Logan Sargeant the overall win, DeFrancesco second, Anthony Ganji, Jr. third, Thomas fourth and Buitrago fifth.
Special thanks goes to Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup for helping make this race possible and for bringing their race cars for everyone to sit in. They will be giving one lucky karter a full ride in the 2010 season for a chance at the $100,000 going to the season champion. Rotax Max Challenge USA would also like to thank the Berryhills and all of the race staff for their hospitality and putting together this event.