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Driver Profile - Stepanova Nekeel

2/13/2010

The Pacific Northwest, including neighboring British Columbia, has always produced some of the best drivers in North America. This region sent a more than its share of drivers to the Rotax World Finals in Egypt last December, including three of four of the Senior Rotax drivers on the U.S. Team, and Seattle WA’s very own Stepanova Nekeel was one of them.

After a totally cool experience racing in the Rotax World Finals in Egypt, Stepanova Nekeel’s 2010 race schedule is coming together. Look for the # 22 Mach 1 kart to run in Senior Rotax at Andy Seesemann’s Challenge of the America’s (COA) series, during Jan-Feb-March. In the meantime, the rest of the year’s schedule will be will be firmed up from the list of races below, trying to make as many as possible.

Stepanova was fast at the Rotax World’s, landing in the top 5 in his timed-practice sessions, and things were looking pretty good before the racing started. Unfortunately, his first two heat races ended up as DNF’s, not making it past the first corner or two. His last heat also began very badly, as he was punted off track (again) in the first corner. This time he recovered to finish the race, passing a dozen or so karts, and setting the 3rd fastest lap time on the way. But not good enough to make the cut from 76 to 36 karts going on to the main.

The 2009 version of the Supernationals had a little better outcome for Stepanova. He provisionally qualified 8th fastest overall in TaG Senior, out of 80 drivers, but lost his Leopard motor battery on the track, and came across the scales just slightly under weight. Of course, that meant he started all three qualifying heats dead last. He had a good run in every heat, and ended up 13th in the Final, starting from 24th, a good accomplishment.

The 2009 Rotax Nationals in Norman, OK tooks some good and bad turns for Stepanova. He finished in the top 5 in all his heats, but in a rainy, rough Pre-final, he finished 11th, and then had to fight to move up to 7th in the Final.

Stepanova had a great learning experience in 2009, running with the Mach 1 factory team in KF2 in the German Championship series in Wackersdorf, Germany. He finished the 2009 NW Rmax Challenge series in 2nd place, behind Joey Wimsett, following his 1st place finish in the 2008 NW Rmax Challenge.

Looking forward to other races in the 2010 season, there are several economical opportunities for Northwest drivers, to run in big, fast fields in Rotax and TaG. For drivers wanting to improve their racing skills by mixing it up with the best, there’s a nice selection of top - level events within a day’s drive of Portland. Other race series Stepanova will be attending throughout the 2010 season will include SKUSA North American Pro Tour, WSK/CKI, Rotax Pan Am, and of course you will be able to find him at the Northwest’s very own new I-5 Corridor Series, as well as the Gold Cup/ Rotax Max Challenge Series.

Stepanova would like to thank Mike Rolison, Mike Collins, Darko Orcic, Derek Wang, Mike Daniel, Vince and Ray Arsenault, the Wimsett family, and mom and dad. And a big shout out to his primary commercial sponsor, Safety First Neckwear, aka, SfN Neccollas.

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Article Credit: Tim Skeel
425 Motorsports