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Northern California Rotax Challenge

9/15/2009

The Jim Russell Northern California Rotax Challenge moved to the Kinsmen Kart Club track at Dixon, California, for Race #6 under the lights for two nights of racing over the Labor Day weekend. The Kinsmen Kart Club two night race event was a great success with over 160 total entries, 35 of which were Rotax racers. Everyone had a great time. This was the first of three Nor Cal Rotax Challenge events that will run at the Kinsmen Kart Club track this year.

There were five entries in the 8 to 10 year old Micro Max class. Southern California's Nicky Hays saw the Dixon track for the first time on the Friday practice day. Nicky was a quick study and took the pole ahead of Dixon veterans Sarah Setzer and Micheal Michoff. In the fifteen lap Pre-Main, Hays took an early lead at the green flag and never looked back as he went on to a six second win. Setzer held on to second for most of the Pre-Main, but Michoff got by late in the race to take second followed by Setzer.

In the fifteen lap Main, Hays again took a quick lead and controlled the race, winning by the same six second margin. Class points leader Michoff had to settle for second with Setzer taking a strong third place followed by Toni Breidinger and Annie Breidinger.

Four drivers took the green flag in the 10 to 12 year old Mini Max class. Points leader Drew Setzer took the pole ahead of JR Raczko, Cole Davis and Harrison Mills. At the start of the Pre-Main, Setzer took the lead with a strong battle behind. In the end, the final order was the same as Qualifying.

Rotax Micro Max winner Nicky Hays
(Photo: Ed Broberg)

In the Main, a tight race again took place with Setzer controlling the pace. Setzer took the win, Raczko 2nd, Cole Davis 3rd, and Harrison Mills 4th.

Five Rotax Masters and two Masters Lights drivers took the track in this combined class race. During qualifying, Donald Durbin took the pole ahead of Jark Arluck and David Harwin. For the first five races, the Masters class has been a duel between Durbin and Harwin and Race #6 turned out to be no exception. In the Pre-Main, Durbin used his experience of the Dixon track to pull away for a six second win over Harwin with Arluck another four seconds back. In the Masters Light class, Dixon club driver Chris Rossi took the win over Mary Beth Wilson.

In the Main, Durbin took the early lead and pulled out a sizable lead, but as the race got into the latter laps, overtaking lapped racers proved to be a big challenge. With five laps to go, Durbin made a mistake as he was overtaking a kart which caused him to spin off and allowed Harwin to take the race lead. Durbin recovered and started to chase down Harwin. Durbin put in his fastest lap during the chase, but came up one tenth of a second short at the checked flag. Harwin thus took the win followed by Durbin and Arluck. Chris Rossi came home 4th overall and 1st in the Lights class with Jerry Pretti in 5th.

The two speed DD2 class drew six entries with the top four class points challengers in attendance. In Qualifying, Troy Castaneda continued his dominance of the class, but young guns Kyle Gimple and Bronson Eggert just missed the pole by less than four hundredths of a second. In the Pre-Main, Castaneda took the early lead and held it for the entire fifteen laps to take a three second win. The battle was for 2nd through 4th place. Gimple made a good start to hold off Eggert with 2008 class champ David Arnstein just behind. These three finished less than one second apart.

Rotax DD2 start
(Photo: Ed Broberg)

In the Main, Troy again took the lead and was never challenged the entire race. The best action was for 2nd place with Gimple and Eggert again in a race long battle. Eggert applied all the pressure he could but was never able to get side by side to make an attempt at a pass. In the end, Gimple withstood the pressure to take 2nd just one tenth of a second ahead of Eggert with Arnstein just a second back in 4th. January Grove came home 5th with Dave Moody in 6th.

The one lone Junior Rotax joined the twelve Senior Rotax drivers to made this one of the largest classes of the weekend. The Nor Cal Rotax Senior Rotax class has been one of the most hotly contested classes in Northern California racing in some years with five different winners in five races and four of those winners in the Dixon field.

Last week's Infineon winner Gregory Liefooghe took the pole followed by a best ever performance from Matthew Weiss followed by Nic LeDuc and Carlos Calderon. Junior driver Brody Zink qualified 5th but would have to start the races from the back of the field due to a tight points battle in the Senior class.

The Pre-Main began with a fast and heavily contested start with drivers challenging each other immediately. Liefooghe took the lead at the green with LeDuc slipping into 2nd and Weiss and Calderon battling side by side. On lap two, Jake Mottaz slid off turn one and had to drop out. Then Calderon attempted a pass on Weiss going into the bowl turn forcing Weiss high. Brett Buckwalter then challenged Calderon going into the back turn and the two had contact sending both off the track.

Fast and furious Senior start under lights
(Photo: NorCalRotax.com)

By lap three, everyone settled down and a fast train of karts went round and round the four tenth mile long Dixon track. In the end, Liefooghe took home a five second win over Jordan Jadallah with LeDuc slowing on the last lap to drop to 3rd, Weiss 4th and Travis Duhn in 5th.

In the Main, Liefooghe took the lead at the green and Jadallah was able to slide over and take 2nd. The fifteen lap Main came down to Liefooghe, Jadallah and LeDuc pulling away to do their own battle all race long and a second group of Duhn, Donovan Wheeler, Calderon and Buckwalter doing battle. LeDuc first got by Jadallah midway through the Main. He then set out to chase down Liefooghe. With two laps to go, LeDuc made his move going into the hairpin and made a bold, but clean pass to take over the lead which he held on to and took the win by just .167 seconds. LeDuc thus becomes the first two time winner of the year. Liefooghe had to settle for 2nd with Jadallah 3rd. Duhn controlled the front of the second battling group of racers and came home 4th, Wheeler 5th and Buckwalter 5th.

Racing under the lights was great. Expect the Nor Cal Rotax Challenge drivers to be back next year. The busy fall racing schedule continues with five events over the next nine weeks. Next up is the Rotax Nationals in Norman, Oklahoma, for several Nor Cal drivers, then back to the Jim Russell International Karting Center at Infineon Raceway for Race #7 on September 26.

Article Credit: norcalrotax.com
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