Article By: gatorzkarting.com
The west coast’s winter karting series, the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas, kicked off its thirds season on Saturday at the challenging Formula K Raceway in northern Phoenix. Drivers from ten states and across Canada got their seasons started with a full day of racing under sunny blue skies, with moisture on the track only an issue in the early morning practice sessions.
The region experienced heavy rain in the days leading up to the Gatorz event, and it took a heroic effort by the Phoenix Kart Racing Association to prepare the track for this weekend’s racing. Their efforts are appreciated by the competitors and staff of the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas.
Only four strong, the Micro Max field provided one of the most dominating performances of the day, with Toni Breidinger sweeping the day with pole position, the pre-main victory, and the victory in the main. However, the assembled crowd couldn’t help but cheer for little Connor Robustelli, who pulled off the same pass on the outside of turn 10 at the start of each race to take the lead. Each time, Toni Breidinger would find a way past, but Robustelli was able to hang on to second and keep Annie Breidinger behind. The final order was Toni Breidinger, Connor Robustelli, and Annie Breidinger in third.
Reaction Karting Junior Max:
Returning to the series for the first time since 2008, Raquel Martinez took pole position ahead of Louie Pagano and Parker McKean.
Martinez and Pagano split from the field at the start and battled throughout the ten-lap premain, with Pagano leading early but ultimately finishing behind Martinez. Jeremy Kane finished third but was later handed a penalty for passing under yellow, putting McKean back to third at the end.
A big coming together at the start of the main event took several fast karts off the track, including Emily Maddison, Dakota Dickerson, Jeremy Kane, and Jake Craig, who ultimately retired. Out of that, Pagano took the lead from Martinez, while Kiel Spaulding jumped up to third with Nicholas Silva right behind. Pagano and Martinez broke away again, and traded positions in the early stages of the race until Pagano got ahead for good and began to put distance on Martinez. But the best battle was behind, as Silva and Spaulding battled throughout the race, allowing Dickerson to catch up after driving through the field. Silva took third place on the next to last lap in turn eleven, and in the same corner on the final lap, Silva took a shot from Spaulding, dropping him to fifth as Spaulding and Dickerson slipped through.
However, after the race, Spaulding was given a two-spot penalty for the move, promoting Dickerson to the podium. But this battle was far behind the lead, as Pagano took the victory with nearly two seconds in hand over Martinez.
Apollo Motorsports Mini Max
Two newcomers to the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas, Blaine Rocha and Davey Manthai, Jr., swept the front row of Apollo Motorsports Minimax. Adam Iavelli was third.
Rocha and Manthai, Jr., kept their positions at the start, while Iavelli had a solo spin that took him out of contention on the opening lap. Parker Thompson, who started fifth, was marching forward, passing Manthai, Jr., for second on the eighth lap and Rocha for the lead on the ninth lap. Rocha, however, took the lead back on the final lap. The final order was Rocha, Manthai, Jr., and Thompson.
The three stayed in that order at the start of the main, with Bruno Carneiro jumping up the field to fourth. The first casualty was Carneiro, who spun coming onto the front straightaway and fell to the back of the field. Next, Manthai, Jr.’s kart broke on the twelfth lap, promoting Thompson into second place and Royal McKee into third. Thompson put heavy pressure on Rocha, and with the white flag displayed, the two karts caught a lapped kart in turn eight. Rocha drove it in deep into turn 8 to pass the lapped kart but overshot the corner, letting Thompson through into the lead, and off into his first win. Rocha was second, but was DQ’d in the tech shed, promoting Hunter Corbitt into second and Royal McKee to third.
Championship Karting International Rotax Senior:
Gustavo Menezes took pole position ahead of Tyler Wheeler and Justin Miller. Provisional pole sitter, Stepanova Nakeel, was DQ’d in the tech shed.
Menezes kept the lead at the start of the premain and checked out, while behind him a large coming together collected a large portion of the field. At the end of ten laps, Menezes had nearly a four second gap over Phil Gelinos and Mason Marotta. Impressively, last year’s Masters Champion, John Crow, finished fourth right behind the battle between Gelinos and Marotta.
Another large pile up at the start of the main made a mess of the field, but Menezes got away with Marotta on his bumper. Marotta hung on for a bit but could not make an impression, and Menezes slowly eased away. Behind them, Gelinos, Wheeler, Crow, Steven Barros, and Nakeel had a huge battle for third. Nakeel battled his way forward, but his rear bumper came adrift after contact with Crow, causing Nakeel to get black flagged. Gelinos would out-battle the group to finish third, but up front it was all Menezes who won handily over Marotta.
Overdrive Karting Rotax Masters:
Paul Bonilla took pole position ahead of series newcomer Joey McGuire and last year’s Rotax Masters National Champion, Mike Daniel.
McGuire, however, took the lead at the start with Daniel following him through into second. McGuire’s lead was short-lived, however, as his kart came to a stop exiting turn 11, ending his race. Daniel led to the checkered, Bonilla was second, and Larry Hayashigawa was third.
The start of the main saw Bonilla get the jump on Daniel, while Larry Hayashigawa spun on his own out of third place. Daniel stuck with Bonilla initially but Bonilla began to pull out an advantage with each passing lap, while Daniel was reeled in by McGuire. McGuire eventually worked his way past, but by that point Bonilla was too far up the road to do anything about. Bonilla took the win, with McGuire second and Daniel third.
Full Throttle Karting DD2:
DD2, summed up, was the Troy Castaneda show. Castaneda swept the day, taking pole position, winning the pre-main, and handily winning the main. He was chased in second all day by Erik Jackson, with Noel Dowler finshing each session in third.
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