The Sonoma valley greeted the competitors of the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas, many of whom traveled from across the continent, with sunny blue skies and warm weather for Saturday’s round five of the 2010 Gatorz Challenge of the Americas season. By the end of the day, two of the series’ six championships would be decided, with two drivers earning trips to the Rotax Grand Finals, which are to be held at the La Conca track in Muro Leccese, Italy in November.
Apollo Motorsports Minimax
The three championship protagonists lined up first, second, and third for the day’s final with Blaine Rocha on pole ahead of Davey Manthai, Jr. and Parker Thompson. At the drop of the green, Thompson got under Manthai to jump to second, but it only lasted a lap as Manthai retook the spot with a pass in turn 1. Only a lap later, however, Manthai was out of the race with a mechanical failure on his kart. Then, not long after, Rocha’s kart broke an axle under braking for turn six, sending him into a spin and putting him out of the race.
Suddenly, Thompson was in control with Nick Ramirez second, Alec Bergstrom third, Royal McKee fourth and Adam Iavelli fifth. Iavelli was the first one to fall off as he spun to avoid McKee and Ramirez when they made contact in turn one. Ramirez fell off the back as Bergstrom and McKee ran second and third, right on Thompson’s bumper. The three ran that way to the finish, with Thompson winning, Bergstrom second, and McKee third.
With one race left, and with no drops factored in, Thompson is the new championship leader as he sits 14 points clear of Rocha and 21 ahead of Manthai, Jr.
Reaction Karting Junior Rotax
Kiel Spaulding jumped out to the lead of the main with Parker McKean, Louie Pagano, and Jake Craig right behind. Pagano needed a few laps to pass McKean and began to put pressure on Spaulding, as the two began to ease away from McKean and Craig. Halfway through, Pagano made a pass for the lead into turn one. The pass, however, seemed to invigorate Spaulding as he found some speed and, according to series announcer Tim ‘Chappy’ Chapman, Spaulding began to push Pagano around the track like a shopping cart at Wal-Mart.
Three laps later, Spaulding put a pass on Pagano in turn one to take the lead back. Behind him, Craig passed McKean for third. Pagano shadowed Spaulding until he had an opportunity to take the lead back, which didn’t come until the final lap. Spaudling ran a defensive line into turn nine, and Pagano was able to draw alongside on the exit, but couldn’t get the pass done. Spaulding took the victory, Pagano was second, and Craig third. The result for Pagano mathematically clinched the Junior Rotax class championship for him, and a trip to Italy for this year’s Rotax Grand Finals.
Championship Karting International Rotax Senior
Joey Wimsett led Mason Marotta, Justin Coplen and Stepanova Nekeel away from the start while Dylan Albaini was tapped into a spin that took out several karts. Later in the lap, Matthew Weiss and Bobby Wallace got together exiting turn ten, but the big news was when championship leader Phil Gelinas was hit entering turn one and fell well down the order.
Wimsett then went backwards as Marotta passed him in turn one, and them Coplen passed him in turn one. The two then checked out, until Coplen passed Marotta into turn nine. Behind them, Nekeel and Nor-Cal driver Carlos Calderon were locked in a battle for fourth, with Calderon getting the battle started with a pass in turn six. Then, things got really exciting when Coplen had a brake component failure going into turn 1, clouting the back of Marotta. Marotta continued having lost a few spots, Coplen was out, and Wimsett now had a comfortable lead.
With Wimsett far out in front, the focus was on the battle for second as Nekeel now headed Calderon. With the laps winding down, Marotta caught the battling duo and pulled of the pass of the day as he outbraked both of them into turn one to move back to second. Wimsett ran unchallenged to the checkered, Marotta was second, and Nekeel just held off Calderon for third.
After five races and with no drops factored in, Gelinas has a 32 point lead over Marotta, and forty points over third-placed Nekeel.
Overdrive Motorsports Rotax Masters
The first start attempt of the Rotax Masters main resulted in a huge crash that collected most of the field, necessitating a full restart. On that restart, Mike Daniel led David Busby and Bruce McKean out of turn one while Andy Seesemann was hit by Andre Erickson and sent into a spin.
Daniel and Busby checked out from the field but the race behind them was wild from start to finish. Steve Dzurilla passed McKean for third, while Hayashigawa, Bonilla, Ericksen, Seesemann, Ken Maxfield and Paul Hohlbein all ran right behind. Hayashigawa spun in the esses, sending Bonilla off the track. Ericksen moved into fifth with Bonilla right behind, but that didn’t last long as Bonilla got into the back of Ericksen coming on the front straightaway, sending Ericksen back to ninth. Bonilla then caught McKean, and on the last lap, McKean got tripped up by lapped traffic in turn one and Bonilla was through to fourth.
Daniel ran completely uncontested to take the win, with Busby second and Dzurilla taking third. Bonilla’s charge to fourth was reversed with a four-position penalty for avoidable contact with Ericksen. With one race left and with no drops factored in, Daniel is now the points leader with Bonilla seventeen points behind. Ken Maxfield is still third.
Nicky Hays led the Micromax final from start to finish, while behind him, Conner Robustelli fought the whole race to keep Toni Breidinger behind him for second place after Annie Breidinger fell off the track while running second. Robustelli leads Annie Breidinger by 29 points with no drops factored in with only one race day remaining.
Team Arizona DD-2
Drama started early in the DD-2 final as Matt Ostiguy jumped ahead of pole sitter Troy Castaneda before Castaneda suffered a mechanical problem that sent him to the back of the field. He was able to fix the problem – his fuel line had become detached – and set off on a charge to the front. It took a few laps before he came through the field, but he worked up to third, sitting right behind second-placed Noel Dowler, who was right behind Ostiguy.
Castaneda made quick work of Dowler and then took the lead from Ostiguy in turn one, but Ostiguy had plenty of fight in him as he took the spot right back into Tic-Tac-Toe. The next lap, the two repeated the same thing, and Ostiguy remained in the lead. However, Castaneda finally made the pass for Ostiguy stick in turn nine, and it wasn’t long after that Dowler also moved past Ostiguy in turn six, as Ostiguy had used up the Mojo tires on the front of his kart.
Dowler was able to get close and put pressure on Castaneda, but he would be unable to do anything about it, as Castaneda took his fourth win of the season, with Dowler scoring his best result of the season in second, and Ostiguy coming home in third. The win clinched the DD-2 championship for Castaneda, who will be representing the Gatorz Challenge of the America’s at this year’s Grand Finals in Italy.