Season Three of Gatorz Challenge of the Americas kicks off in Arizona:
Article By: Efrain Olivares
Formula K Raceway in Glendale, Arizona will play host to the season opening event of the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas for the second year in a row. Drivers are entered from across the United States and Canada, with some of karting’s best young (and old) drivers battling for three spots to the United States Grand Nationals, and three spots to the Rotax Grand Finals.
With a strong turnout and high level of talent in each class, as well as the challenging nature of Formula K Raceway which bred close racing and plenty of passing opportunities at last season’s opener – not to mention the Nationals and Grand Finals prizes – the racing action promises to be exciting in each class.
And, for all of the friends and family who can’t make the trip, as well as for karting fans across the country, the race will be broadcast live on the series website at www.gatorzkarting.com. The broadcast will begin Friday afternoon for timed practice, and will begin on Saturday and Sunday with qualifying. The full schedule will also be available at www.gatorzkarting.com.
Championship Karting International Rotax Senior
No doubt a stacked field, the Rotax Senior field features a long list of drivers with proven speed. Fastest of the drivers from the 2009 season will be Stepanova Nekeel (CRG), Mason Marotta (Intrepid), and Mike Herda (CRG). A big story, however, will be last year’s Masters champion, John Crow (birel), who will pull the weight off of his kart to compete in Senior.
New to the series and certainly worth keeping an eye on will be Bobby Kelley (Maddox) and Devin Lindsey (Maddox). Justin Coplen (Kosmic), who last competed in the series as a Junior in 2008, will move to Senior and, based on his past history as a Junior, possesses the speed to be a factor in Senior.
Reaction Karting Junior Rotax
A strong Junior Rotax field will take the green flag in Phoenix. Louie Pagano (birel), who had a breakout year in 2009 with a championship in the Gatorz Karting Cup, a fourth in the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas, a runner-up finish in the Rotax Summer Shootout, and then a sixth in the US Grand Nationals, is a favorite heading into his final year as a Junior.
New to the series will be IKF and ProKart Challenge standout Kiel Spaulding (Top Kart), who parlayed a strong 2009 season into a second place finish at the SKUSA Supernationals in TaG Junior. Raquel Martinez (Top Kart), an IKF standout who competed in the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas in 2008, will be a factor as will Emily Maddison (PCR) who is also returning to the series. Third year Junior Dakota Dickerson (birel) and Nicholas Silva (Kosmic) are coming off of strong Gatorz campaigns in 2009 and will be at the sharp end of the field.
Overdrive Karts Rotax Masters
As last year’s two title protagonists, champion John Crow and runner-up David Harwin are not returning to the class, Overdrive Karts Rotax Masters looks to be a two-horse race between the two drivers that finished first and second at the US Grand Nationals last year – Mike Daniel (CRG) and Paul Bonilla (birel). Daniel and Bonilla also battled throughout last year in the Gatorz Karting Cup, with Bonilla taking the championship and Daniel finishing second.
The heavy favorite in DD-2 will be last year’s runner-up and the runner-up at the US Grand Nationals, Troy Castaneda (CRG). Erik Jackson (Arrow) and January Grove (CRG) will be the other favorites for the podium.
Apollo Motorsports Minimax
The Minimax field will see several new faces and teams compete in Phoenix, but we are still likely to see Royal McKee (CRG) and Trenton May (CRG) battling at the front of the field. Adam Iavelli (Maddox) came on strong in the second half of last year’s Gatorz Challenge of the Americas, and is returning to the series for a sophomore campaign. Also look for strong performances from Parker Thompson (Tony Kart), who competed in Gatorz Challenge of the Americas and Championship Karting International last year.
Annie Breidinger and Toni Breidinger both competed in Micromax in the Gatorz Karting Cup and Nor-Cal Rotax throughout 2009 and will be battling for the qualifying spot for the US Grand Nationals.