This weekend marks the inaugural WSK North American Series event, promoted by the Championship Karting International (CKI) outfit. Set for the illustrious New Castle Motorsports Park facility in central Indiana, April 9-11 will be part of a new era in national karting. CKI will begin its second season and enter a new partnership with WSK Promotions, the leading European karting program.
Organized last year, the CKI organization is set to begin its second season promoting national karting events headed up by a number of karting and motorsports veterans with years of experience behind them. Following their four race season last summer and the new three-race program of the CKI Florida Cup, CKI will now embark in a six-race national schedule to crown six national champions.
The weekend will begin with a full day of practice on Friday with each class given five sessions for plenty of track time. Each day will count as one round toward the championship with Qualifying, Prefinal and Final set to take place on Saturday and Sunday. WSK North American will honor the event winner for each category - combining the results of both Prefinal and Final from each day - with the podium presentation following Sunday’s action.
During those podium celebrations, CKI is going to be shelling out a number of prizes along with a sizable cash purse for each weekend and the championship chases. The KF2 category will see $1,750 in cash payout with the event winner taking home $1,000 of that with second $500 and third $250. The champion at the end of the six-race season will receive $5,000 for his efforts with the vice-champion to earn $2,000 for his efforts and third place $1,000. The prize structure will be similar for the TaG Senior category.
The under 16 categories will all be vying for similar prize packages. Leopard Junior, KF3, Mini Max, and Cadet event winners will earn a free entry into the following WSK North American Series race while second and third will receive a 50% and 25% discount respectively, in addition to the unique trophies presented by CKI. The year end champions in each category will be awarded a free entry into the entire 2011 WSK North American Series schedule.
The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving will be a big supporter of the WSK North American Series in 2010. A Bondurant High Performance Four-Day Grand Prix Road Racing Driver School - valued at $4,800 - will be awarded to the year end championship winner in both KF2 and TaG Senior with the KF2 titlist earning participation in the Bondurant Championship Formula Mazda Race Series. For the Junior drivers (Leopard Junior and KF3), Bondurant will hand out a $1,500 voucher towards a Bob Bondurant Driving School to both class champions. Bondurant will also be handing out special awards as the year progresses to Mini Max and Cadet drivers to their Kart Racing School. In addition to the many other series supporters, the WSK North American Series by CKI will distribute over $250,000 in cash and prizes. Bondurant himself will be in attendance at the opening round, hosting a Friday night dinner for the event.
Breaking down the contenders on the weekend, the KF2 division will see the return of defending champion Arie Ouimet (SSC East/CRG). The national champion and 2008 eKartingNews.com Rising Star will look to defend his title while also competing in the VW Jetta TDI Cup program this year. Ouimet’s major threat will be his new teammate Joey Wimsett. Joining the squad at the beginning of 2010, Wimsett got adjusted to the CRG brand during the CKI Florida Cup, finishing fifth in the Rotax Senior category. He is also no stranger to the KF engine, having competed with the engine back in 2008. Moving up the ranks are to up and coming drivers. 2008 EKN Young Driver of the Year Phil DeLaO (Team Top Kart USA) will campaign his first Senior season and will look to battle for the year-end championship. DeLaO had a stellar debut in the CKI Florida Cup, finishing fourth behind Ouimet. Madeline Komar (SSC East/Maranello) was impressive late in the 2009 season in KF3, earning her first CKI podium at the Grand Championship to move her up to third in the standings. Moving up to KF2 this year, she will look to make some strides against the tough competition. Also new for 2010 will be Checkered Motorsports drivers Robert Bujdoso and Kyle Knecht. Both established drivers in the WKA Manufacturer’s Cup Series, the PCR drivers will make the move to the national scene. A late addition to the entry list is 2006 ICA national champion Joel Miller. The Californian who has spent the last three years in the open-wheel ranks will make a welcomed return to the karting seat with J3 Competition/Kosmic.
Last year, the IAME Senior category was hotly contested all four weekends. For 2010, the new CKI TaG Senior division should offer the same now with IAME Parilla Leopard, Rotax FR125, and the Vortex Rok TT engines competing against one another. Returning contenders are Neil Alberico and Kyle Wiegand. Alberico returns with the Kartel Motorsports group, however, moves to the Wild Kart chassis brand. Wiegand, lead driver of the Team Top Kart USA program, call New Castle home and will be very tough to beat. Also calling New Castle home is Indiana’s Colton Aldridge (JD Byrider Kart Team). Looking to run a part-time CKI schedule, Aldridge has shown speed in previous events at the facility against top competitors. A guest driver for the weekend will be Star Mazda Championship St. Pete winner Conor Daly. Driving for DeFrancesco Racing this weekend aboard the same FA Kart he started on the front row of the Mazda RoboPong 200, Daly will be a factor all weekend. Another driver to watch is reining CKI Florida Cup TaG Senior champion Taylor Miinch (Team Top Kart USA). The 2009 IAME Junior champion moves up to the Senior ranks and is certainly already a threat. Merlin USA will have a strong presence at New Castle with three drivers behind the wheel - Andrew Hobbs, TJ Koyen and Michael Politis.
Looking to build on her CKI Florida Cup championship, Alessandra Madrigal is the early favorite in KF3 heading to New Castle. An impressive run in the last two weekends of the winter series that saw her dominate the competition, Madrigal will look to do the same this weekend. A number of drivers will look to challenge her at round one and the remainder of the season. Team Top Kart USA drivers Mason Chelootz and Raquel Martinez will make their KF3 debuts this weekend, both strong competitors in the IAME Junior field last year. Evan Komar (SSC East/Maranello) was vice-champion to Madrigal at the CKI Florida Cup and will look to build on that during the rest of the season as will Broc Yocom (Leading Edge Motorsports/Intrepid), fourth during the winter series. Checkered Motorsports will field three drivers in the KF3 category - Andrew Bujdoso, Connor Hayse and Kyle Smith - all aboard the PCR brand.
With defending champion Taylor Miinch moving up, the Leopard Junior category is wide open for the taking with a number of challengers able to claim the win this weekend or claim the championship. The top three returning from last year include Camden Geise (SSC East/CRG), Shawn Sharkey (Merlin USA) and Raquel Martinez (Team Top Kart USA). Geise was on the podium twice in the four events last year and showed the speed to win but ran into some bad racing luck. Sharkey was the inaugural winner at New Castle last year and would like to repeat that feat. Martinez will do the double, running both KF3 and Leopard Junior, so it will be interesting to see if that will help or hurt her chances. Sebastian Ordonez, Kyle Spaulding and Dore Chaponick are familiar names you see at the front. Ordonez (RDD Motorsports/Kart Mini) was the Rotax Junior champion in the CKI Florida Cup and will hope to remain at the front after bolting on the IAME Parilla Leopard engine. Chaponick (DeFrancesco Racing/FA Kart) was a contender in his home state of Florida this winter, racking up an impressive resume to begin the season. Spaulding (Team Top Kart USA) is a NorCal star and is looking to move that momentum to the national scene.
Home track advantage will be on the side of Jacob Knueven (Arrow), Robby Seward (Tony Kart), and Karl Weber (MKP/Birel). Knueven and Sweard teamed up to finish fifth in the Mazda RoboPong 200 event at New Castle last year as the youngest team in the field. Weber has victories at his home track in Manufacturer’s Cup Series as a Cadet, but moves up to the Junior ranks in 2010. Another driver moving up to the Junior level is Merlin USA driver Joel Jens as he will look to make progression over the course of the season. Making a total of four female drivers on the weekend, Sabre Cook (Critical Zone Racing/CRG) completes the list of talented women drivers at the WSK North American Series opener.
The Mini Max category is new for CKI in 2010. Launched at the CKI Florida Cup, the class produces some close racing for the drivers age 9-12. Class champion Dalton Sargeant is the lead contender going into New Castle. The RDD Motorsports/Kart Mini driver won five of six features down in Florida. He’ll be accompanied by his brother, Logan Sargeant. The 2009 Micro Max national champion was third in the CKI Florida Cup standings behind Dalton, and the two will work together to stay at the front. The Mini Max field will host two more former national champions - Devlin DeFrancesco and Patricio O’Ward. DeFrancesco (DeFrancesco Racing/Energy) won the Canadian Micro Max title last year while O’Ward was the 2008 champ in the US. Both have been solid contenders since moving to the Mini Max division at the start of the year.
DeFrancesco will be doing the double on the weekend as he along with Kartel Motorsports’ Blaine Rocha and Davey Manthai as well as Team Top Kart USA’s Hunter Corbitt and Zane Smith will contest the Comer Cadet class. With the New Castle circuit welcome to drafting, it’s certain that these classes may be decided in the final corner all weekend.
eKartingNews.com will be trackside throughout the weekend, providing their exceptional Trackside Live program. Track action begins Friday and EKN will publish the results of the final official sessions in the Official Discussion Thread. The postings will continue on Saturday and Sunday with race reports and photos to be published from each day.