Round 2 of the IKF Region 7 Championship Series presented by Bridgestone went off without a hitch at the famed Willow Springs Kart Track. The second episode of the Summer/Fall series was hosted by the Willow Springs Kart Club and TiMi Promotions. With the IKF 2-Cycle Sprint Grand Nationals only a few weeks away it was imperative that racers and crews got a little more track time before the big event. The always unpredictable Willow weather greeted us with highs in the 90s and a light breeze to make it seem just a bit cooler than it was. The heat shouldn't be a factor in a few weeks with the Grand Nationals running under the lights.
First out of the gate was the KPV4/Yamaha Pipe class. Carl Modoff set the pace in qualifying with a time of 47.449, but it was Kyle Wright who snagged the prefinal win. Attrition played a big part of this race as one by one they seemed to drop like flies. Wright and Cody Moss never completed a lap and Modoff only went 7 laps before his day ended. Bradley Espinoza managed to stay out of trouble on the start and took over the lead on lap three. He enjoyed a sizable advantage but the duo of John Wallace III and Scott Chohlis were in hot pursuit. It took nearly the entire race for Wallace and Cholo to bridge the gap, but once they did Espinoza was toast. The three drivers battled it out for the last few laps with Wallace getting a great win. After three years out of the kart, Cholo took a while to get back rolling, but he managed a great return for 2nd place. Espinoza finished in 3rd.
The KPV1 class at the Grand Nationals is going to be one to watch, in fact, all the Cadet classes should provide us with our fair share of excitement. Parker Thompson was the man to be Sunday right from the get go. With a pole and the win in the prefinal he was in great shape to win the final too. The only thing standing in his was twenty laps and sixteen other drivers. Fortunately for Parker he was dialed in as usual and hammered his way home for an uncontested win. Thompson led from flag to flag as the field fought their way through the laps for best in class. Colton Herta and Brenden Baker went at it early for 2nd place while Troy Wesolowski, Chance Skaufel, and Christian Brooks followed closely behind. Baker brought it home for 2nd place and after tech had cleared Brooks was scored in 3rd, completing a great run up from the back to the front.
Jake Craig put 3 tenths on the field in Junior PRD qualifying and carried that momentum into the prefinal. Jason Hannegan and Christian Rochester gave chase but the double zero of Craig was unstoppable. Rochester's day ended early and by the checkered flag Craig had two seconds on Hannegan at the finish.
The Kid Kart class was anything but close all day long. Carson Enright out qualified Hayden Wagner by 8 tenths and Myles Farhan by more than 2 seconds. Enright's advantage disappeared in the prefinal as Wagner found a little extra speed. The final played out in a similar fashion as qualifying with Enright in a world all his own. In a grueling 12 lap final Enright went flag to flag for the win with Wagner doing the same for 2nd place. Hudson Morrow landed 3rd place after dicing nearly the entire race with Luis Ortiz and Anthony Willis.
The Sr. Spec PRD class was by far the best and largest of the adult classes. Kolby Araki has proved time and time again that this is his class and another pole position on Sunday just added more proof. The familiar #17 driven by Matt Johnson qualified P2 with Max Feyerabend and Erik Jackson making up row two. The prefinal saw John Wallace III, Johnson, and Scott Saunders all lead laps while Araki had to work his way back to the front. With a late race move Araki once again would start the final from the pole position. Saunders had a great start and led Araki, Ty Matta, Johnson and Lloyd Mack to the line for the first of 24 laps. His lead didn't last long as Araki moved to the front and never looked back. Once out front it was goodbye and thanks for the memories as Araki's #30 drove off with the Willow wind to a 6 second margin of victory. Saunders maintained 2nd place for a while fending off charges from Matta, but the guy on the move was Jackson. Back in 8th to start the first lap, Jackson was right in the mix by lap six with Johnson, Matta and Saunders. The Aussie Saunders put up a great fight but eventually Jackson took 2nd and carried it to the finish. Saunders finished in 3rd place with Johnson and Max Feyerabend completing the top five.
Parker Thompson was at it again in Junior 1 action grabbing the pole from Colton Herta, Christian Brooks and Brenden Baker. The prefinal saw that running order remain the same, but on the grid for the final the chasers had high hope for ruining Thompson's sweep of the Cadet classes. Despite attempts from all challengers Thompson grabbed the hole-shot to start the final. Dreaming of back to back Junior 1 wins Brooks slotted into second with Noah Garza and Cooper Whitbread in tow. After dropping a few positions on the start, Herta fought his way up to 3rd and challenged Brooks for 2nd. Brooks finally had to yield the spot and Herta took up the duties of chasing after Thompson. On fire once again, Thompson was successful in completing the sweep of all the Cadet classes. I don't think there was a lap he didn't lead all weekend long. Herta kept Brooks at bay and they finished 2nd and 3rd. After getting tangled up on the start, Baker rebounded with a superb drive from last to 4th. Wyatt May also turned in a solid performance coming from deep in the field to finish in 5th.
KPV 2 Junior was the final class on the docket and once again Jake Craig led the way. With a pole and dominating prefinal win under his belt, Craig was the clear favorite in the final as well. On the line was of course another win, but also the opportunity to match Parker Thompson by sweeping the Junior classes. Although Slater Stowell and Jorge Cevallos were best in class for the prefinal, the final saw the running order make a slight shift. It didn't shift much as Craig easily went flag to flag for his second win of the weekend. Cevallos and Stowell started out as 2nd and 3rd but Brandon Reed was quick to jump up into 3rd place. As Cevallos and Reed settled in for the long haul, Haley Jenni was climbing up through the field. The laps ticked by and one by one Jenni was getting closer to the front. Reed had retired by lap 14 but it took a few more laps to hunt down Cevallos. With a last lap attack, Jenni made a move that stuck and captured 2nd place to complete a wonderful effort. Cevallos maintained a 3rd place finish as Reed and Stowell completed the top five.
Regional competition will take the rest of June off and all of July and return to action August 7-8 with the Santa Maria Kart Club in lovely Santa Maria, California. In the meantime the IKF 2-Cycle Sprint Grand Nationals hosted by the Willow Springs Kart Club and TiMi Promotions will take place under the lights June 23-26 at Willow Springs Kart Track. All Grand Nationals information and entry forms can be found at www.timipromotions.com or contact Tim Holden 818-701-7151 or Mike Manning 661-256-7500.