It was an exciting Sunday as the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas finished its third season at the Jim Russell International Karting Center at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Although two of the championships had been mathematically clinched on Saturday, the remaining four classes would prove to have exciting finales.
Making things more interesting was the prize of a school in the Jim Russell Racing School’s Formula 3 car, which would be awarded to a deserving driver in the CKI Senior Rotax championship.
Apollo Motorsports Minimax
Parker Thompson entered the day with a small points lead over Blaine Rocha and Davey Manthai, but after a rough qualifying session and pre-main, Thompson lined up fourth for the main. The front row, however, was Rocha and Manthai.
Rocha came out of turn one the leader, but Manthai fell to fifth and Thompson was even further back after getting bounced around. Manthai was able to work forward to third place in a couple of laps, while Adam Iavelli was putting a ton of pressure on Rocha for the lead. It wouldn’t last, however, as Iavelli pulled his kart of the track with a mechanical problem. Thompson was pushing his way forward, but with Rocha and Manthai running first and second, his title hopes were all but gone. Rocha crossed the line first with Manthai in second, and Grey just beat Thompson to the line after the two battled side-by-side over the final lap. After the race, however, Grey was placed behind Thompson as a result of blocking, but third wouldn’t be enough for Thompson.
With his win, Rocha took the Apollo Motorsports Minimax championship and earned a trip to the Rotax Grand Nationals.
Reaction Karting Junior Rotax
With Louie Pagano clinching the class championship, and a trip to the Rotax Grand Finals at La Conca in Muro Lecesse, Italy, the Sunday Junior Rotax race would be the last chance for the Junior Rotax class drivers to earn a bit of glory in the 2010 Gatorz Challenge of the Americas. Kiel Spaulding, winner on Saturday, led the field to the green flag with Pagano starting second. Pagano, however, would fall back several spots as Raquel Martinez leapt up to second place.
Spaulding built a gap right away but Parker McKean was on a mission, passing Martinez for second and catching Spaulding a few laps later. McKean dove under Spaulding in turn one and became the new leader, but his lead would last less than a lap as he dropped a wheel exiting turn 10 and Spaulding was back through. Behind them, Martinez, Pagano, Nicholas Silva and Jake Craig battled for the final podium spot.
When the checkered fell, Spaulding had a comfortable lead and handily took his second win of the weekend, with McKean second and a charging Pagano capping his championship season with a third.
Championship Karting International Rotax Senior
Phil Gelinas entered the day as the points leader, needing to finish ahead of Stepanova Nekeel and Mason Marotta to secure his title. Nekeel helped him out by spinning at the beginning of the pre-main, and having to start the main well back in the order. Gelinas would start the main in second.
Polesitter Justin Coplen led the field into and out of turn one, while Gelinas lost two spots to Marotta and Wimsett. He took third back from Marotta right away and, a lap later, took second back from Wimsett. Marotta then made a forceful pass on Wimsett into turn one, and the two entered Tic Tac Toe side-by-side with Marotta getting through to third and Wimsett going airborne. Their battle allowed Nor-Cal driver Jordan Jadallah to catch them, work his way past, and set off after Gelinas. With only two laps remaining, Jadallah passed Gelinas without incident in turn nine in second place.
At the checkered, Coplen took a win and a bit of redemption after his race ended spectacularly in turn one with a brake failure. Jadallah took second, and Gelinas came home third which was good enough to clinch the CKI Senior Rotax championship and a trip to the Grand Finals.
Coplen didn’t go home empty handed. His driving throughout the season earned him a school at the Jim Russell Racing School’s Formula 3 car, for which he was selected by a committee of Gatorz Karting staff who took note of his talent throughout the six-race championship.
Overdrive Motorsports Rotax Masters
After five races, the championship in Rotax Masters came down to a duel between Paul Bonilla and Mike Daniel. It was simple; in order to secure the championship, Bonilla would have to win the main and set fast lap which was worth another five points.
Bonilla held his lead into turn one while Daniel fell under attack from Nor-Cal driver Andre Ericksen. This allowed Bonilla to instantly build a lead and, just as quickly, set the race’s fastest lap. He continued to build a gap over Daniel, but Daniel responded a few laps later by setting the fast lap and swinging the championship back in his favor. Only a couple of laps later, however, Bonilla went faster and took fast lap back. Meanwhile, Ericksen, David Busby, Scott Falcone and Bruce McKean were having an entertaining scrap for third place.
With Bonilla in the lead and holding fast lap, the championship appeared to be in Bonilla’s grasp as he took the white flag. However, as Daniel crossed the start/finish line to start his final lap, his name went purple on the timing screen as he set fast lap! Bonilla could go no faster on his final lap, and although he took the win, Daniel’s second place and fast lap secured his Rotax Masters championship and a trip to the US Rotax Grand Nationals – where he will defend his title from 2009. Ericksen survived the battle to finish third.
Nicky Hays led the final from start to finish, while behind him Conner Robustelli and Annie Breidinger battled for the class championship. Annie ran in second place in the early stages, while Robustelli made a pass in turn one but couldn’t make it stick, allowing Annie back through into second. Robustelli, however, made a pass stick around the outside of turn one, and Annie was unable to counter. Hays took the win, but he was disqualified afterwards for non-compliance, promoting Robustelli to first place, which was enough to clinch the championship and earn an invitation to the Rotax Grand Nationals. Annie Breidinger finished second, with Toni Breidinger third.
Team Arizona DD-2
Championship winner Troy Castaneda started from pole position but Matt Ostiguy was going to make him work for another victory, as Ostiguy passed him under braking going into Tic Tac Toe on the opening lap. Castaneda retook the lead in turn 10, and was able to build a small gap as Ostiguy came under attack from Derek Wang and Noel Dowler. The three karts traded positions multiple times, until Dowler got ahead of both karts and Wang was ahead of Ostiguy. Wang then spun in turn 12, allowing Ostiguy back up to third position.
And that is how they ran to the end, with Castaneda taking his fifth win of the season, Dowler getting his best result with a second, and Ostiguy in third.