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Pan Am Challenge wraps up season


Rotax Pan American Challenge Completes Inaugural Season in CalSpeed
Article by: rotaxmaxchallenge.com

Sixty drivers arrived at the California Speedway in Fontana to do battle in the final Rotax Pan American Challenge race for 2010. Joining the Pan Am regulars was a contingent from the Gatorz Karting Cup program who were also completing for points towards their home series championship. Beginning the event, a couple of championship spots were close to guaranteed but most of the classes were up for grabs and several Florida competitors made the cross-country trip just to make sure their places were secure. At the end of the event the final names were to be added to the 2010 OGP Team USA roster. The weather, always interesting at the CalSpeed Karting facility, provided some extra conversation on Thursday morning as several tents were turned into scrap metal, a 20x20 Brand New Kart Nation tent was turned upside down and the G-Phactory Team tent was moved 30 feet. Then on Friday, following a red flag a lightning show, changed the schedule moving the drivers meeting up while the weather passed. Despite Mother Nature’s challenges, Pan Am officials kept the program moving and on time.

Micro Max
Coming into the weekend the Micro Max class was a tough battle all season with Jamaica’s Joshua Sirgany (CRG) leading the points ahead of Darren Keane (Kart Mini) and Juan David Buitrago (Tony Kart).

Saturday’s qualifying ended with Sirgany on top followed by Buitrago and Keane. In the Pre-Final, Sirgany took the lead into the first turn and never looked back. Keane grabbed the second spot until Buitrago was able to pass him on lap3. They finished in that order followed by Brueckner (CRG), Hewitt (Birel) and DeFrancesco (Alonso Kart). In the final, Buitrago was unable to make the grid due to a mechanical problem which ended his day early. With Juan out it was up to Keane to ruin the day for the number 70 of Sirgany. It was not to happen as Sirgany went into warp speed and checked out from the field ending the day with a 10 second advantage over Keane. Brueckner took 3rd place with a last lap last corner pass of Hewitt for his first podium finish in the Pan Am series while DeFrancesco was 5th.

Micro Max champion Joshua Sirgany
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)

Sunday got underway early with warm ups and then qualifying. The surprise of Sunday qualifying was a 57.223 by Bruckner putting him 2nd on the grid for the Pre-Final behind Sirgany. Buitrago returned with another 3rd place qualifier. At the drop of the green, Brueckner grabbed the lead from Sirgany and held it until they hit the straight where Sirgany reclaimed it going into turn 1. On lap 3, Keane moved into 2nd with Buitrago moving to 3rd on lap 4. Buitrago and Keane traded places several times with starting order for the final as Sirgany, Keane, Buitrago, Bruckner, Hewitt and DeFrancesco.

The final would show the first changes in the finishing order for the weekend. Keane grabbed the early lead with Sirgany, Hewitt, Buitrago, Brueckner and DeFrancesco falling in line. Whatever Buitragos’ problem in the Pre-Final was, they fixed it as he moved from 4th to 3rd on lap 4, to second on lap 5 and into the lead for good on lap 7. At the end of 13 laps, it was Buitrago, Keane, Sirgany, Hewitt, Brueckner and DeFrancesco.

While Sunday may not have been the finish Joshua Sirgany wanted, the top position on the podium for the 2010 Rotax Pan Am Championship was his.

2010 Rotax Pan Am Series Championship - Micro Max
1. Joshua Sirgany
2. Darren Keane
3. Juan David Buitrago

Mini Max
The Mini Max points championship changed after the US Grand Nationals when Dalton Sargeant elected to move up to Junior. This opened the door for a wide open battle between Logan Sargeant (Kart Mini), Devlin DeFrancesco (Alonso Kart) and Austin Versteeg (CRG). On Friday, Toni Breidinger’s weekend ended early with a practice accident that resulted in a wrist injury. She would spend the weekend cheering her sister on.

The chase for the championship started on Saturday with qualifying, each of the top 3 turned their fastest laps at the beginning of the sessions. When the checkered flag dropped, it was Sargeant on the pole with a 52.598, lap 3 followed by Versteeg at 52.709 on lap 4 and Derek Scott at 52.743 in lap 2. DeFrancesco was the only other driver under 53 at 52.955, lap 9.

Mini Max champion Logan Sargeant
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)

In the Pre-Final, the group took the green with Sargeant grabbing the lead, Versteeg and Scott (Birel) followed for the first couple of laps. Completing the top 5 was Jacob Drew and DeFrancesco. DeFrancesco worked his way to 4th on lap 3 and to 3rd on lap 4. The order stayed Sargeant, Versteeg, DeFrancesco, Scott thru lap 7 when Parker Thompson moved into 4th dropping Scott to 5th. Near the end, Versteeg was able to work by for the lead at the checker flag with Sargeant settling for 2nd. The rest of the top 5 stayed with DeFrancesco, Thompson and Scott.

The Saturday Final proved just as exciting as the Pre-Final with plenty of movement thru out the 17 car field. Sargeant took back the lead he lost on the last lap of the Pre-Final on lap 1. Crossing the line for the first time following Sargeant was Thompson, Scott, Versteeg and Adam Iavelli (Birel). It was a typical Mini Max race with movement all the way thru the field every lap. At lap 10, it was Sargeant, Veersteeg, Iavelli, DeFrancesco and Hays. Rocha moved into the 5th spot on lap 11 but lost it again on the last lap to Hays. With the win on Saturday, Sargeant was a lock for the series championship and was able to just have fun on Sunday.

Sunday morning qualifying saw Parker Thompson top the chart with a 52.161, besting Sargeant’s Saturday qualifier by 4/10ths of a second. To be exact, the top 4 were all faster than the Saturday fast time. The top 5 qualifiers were Thompson, Sargeant, DeFrancesco, Hays and Versteeg.

The Pre-Final saw Thompson 1st going into turn 1 followed by DeFrancesco, Sargeant, Versteeg and Scott. Thompson dominated the Pre-Final leading green to checker. The other 4 positions were anyone’s as each of the drivers occupied 2nd -4th at one time during the 11 laps. At the checker, it was Thompson, Versteeg, DeFrancesco, Sargeant and Hays.

The start of the final was a rerun of the Pre-Final with Thompson assuming the point at the drop of the green followed by Versteeg, DeFrancesco, Sargeant and Rocha. Sargeant moved in front of DeFrancesco on lap 5 and into the lead on lap 10. He held the lead until a last lap pass put Thompson back in front crossing the line for the last time. The final finish was Thompson, Sargeant, Versteeg, DeFrancesco and Rocha.

2010 Rotax Pan Am Series Championship - Mini Max
1. Logan Sargeant
2. Devlin DeFrancesco
3. Austin Versteeg

Sunday Junior winner Emmanuel Mestre
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)

Junior Max
Sebastian Ordonez took the weekend off with the knowledge that the championship was his. This left Dore Chaponick Jr. and Alec Udell to battle for the 2nd spot as they were tied in points starting the weekend. Add in some local hot shoes and the racing was some of the best of the series.

Qualifying started it off with Jake Craig (CRG) making a stop in the hot pit on his 8th lap and then turning his fastest lap next time by. The 50.575 by Craig stood up against Dakota Dickerson (Birel) 50.691, Emmanuel Mestre (Tony Kart) 50.788, Dore Chaponick (Alonso Kart), and Jonathan May (Tony Kart) 50.878. In the points chase, but now behind, Udell qualified 6th and out of the points.

The Pre-Final green waved and Craig took the lead with Dickerson, Chaponick, Mestre and Udell (Tony Kart) following. Udell worked into 2nd by the end of lap 1 and 2nd on lap 6. Chaponick was as high as 2nd but dropped out on lap 6. At the half way point it was Craig, Udell, Mestre, Taylor, and May. The positions continued to change with the final finish showing Craig leading, followed by Udell, Dickerson, May and Mestre.

The final was just another exciting Junior race with Craig grabbing the lead at the drop of the green but Udell moving in front by turn 5. Chaponick starting at the back of the field moved quickly up 5 spots before the end of the first lap, and into 6th by the half way point of the 23 lap feature. At half way, it was Craig in front with Mestre, Dickerson, Carlee Taylor and May. During this time, Udell was moving in the wrong direction back to 8th by half way and settling for this finishing position. Meanwhile, Chaponick moved into 5th just after half way and regaining some of the points lost to Udell in the Pre-Final. At the checker it was Craig, Mestre, Taylor, Dickerson and Chaponick.

Sunday dawned for the Juniors and another opportunity to stand on the podium. Qualifying for Juniors was just like Mini Max where the fast time on Saturday would not even get you into Sunday’s top 5. Top of the charts was Emmanuel Mestre with a 49.878, 2nd Chaponick, 3rd May, Carlee Taylor (Tony Kart), and Dickerson all below the 50 second mark. The qualifying group this day saw the top 8 all faster than Saturday’s poll time.

The Pre-Final saw Mestre grab the lead right away with May, Dickerson, Udell and Craig following. At half way it was still Mestre, Craig, Dickerson, Emily Maddison and May. On lap 9, Craig moved into the lead relegating Mestre to 2nd. When the checker flag waved, it was Dickerson, Craig, Mestre, May and Taylor. Some more tough luck for Chaponick as he dropped out on lap 12.

The Final race of the weekend for the always exciting Juniors, Chaponick grabbed the early lead with Dickerson, Mestre, Craig and Taylor in tow. Chaponick led until lap 11 when Craig worked his way around the #379. He would hold the lead until the 18th lap when he would give it up to Taylor. With 2 laps to go, it was Mestre, Craig, Chaponick, Taylor and May. With 2 thru 4 battling, Mestre was able to cruise to the win but the other 4 battled hard. Crossing for the final time, it was Mestre, Craig, Taylor, Chaponick, and May. A penalty assessment for driving moved Taylor behind Chaponick on the final sheets. With the final done, the Championship presentation was set.

2010 Rotax Pan Am Series Championship - Junior Max
1. Sebastian Ordonez
2. Dore Chaponick
3. Alec Udell

Sunday's Masters winner Larry Hayashigawa
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)

The Masters division championship was close to being decided with Mike Daniels having the opportunity to win with decent finishes in California. Second place James Hummel was leading the points coming in because of participating in the 6 races leading to the final. Joining the Pan AM regulars were several Southern California drivers.

Qualifying on Saturday was lead by David Busby (Arrow), who put down his fast lap on the first time around with a 51.536. This would hold all the way thru the qualifying session followed by Ron Rossetti (Arrow), Scott Falcone (Arrow), Tony Rossetti (Arrow) and Larry Hayashigawa (Tony Kart).

Saturday Pre-Final, Scott Falcone took the lead at the start line and led the first 2 laps before Busby took it back. Falcone dropped back to second with Ron Rossetti in 3rd, Tony Rossetti 4th and Mike Daniel 5th. This was also the finishing order.

The Final start saw Falcone jump into the early lead followed by Busby, Tony Rossetti, Ron Rossetti and Harin DeSilva (CRG). At lap 4, Busby moved back into the lead drooping Falcone to 3rd behind Tony Rossetti. The order at the half way point of Busby, Tony Rossetti, Falcone, Hayashigawa, and Daniel stood all the way to the checker flag.

Sunday qualifying, Ron Rossetti started off the day with the fast qualifying time of 51.263, followed by Tony Rossetti, Mike Daniel, Larry Hayashigawa and Scott Falcone.

At the drop of the flag for the Prefinal, it was Ron Rossetti getting the jump leading Daniel, Tony Rossetti, Hayashigawa and Falcone. At the half way point, it was Ron Rossetti, Daniel, Tony Rossetti, Hayashigawa and Falcone. At the checker flag, Hayashigawa moved around Tony Rossetti to finish 4th with Falcone 5th.

The Final began with Ron Rossetti grabbing the lead followed by Daniel, Hayashigawa, Falcone and Tony Rossetti. On lap 9, Daniel moved to the lead with Hayashigawa following dropping Ron Rossetti to 3rd. In lap 12, Hayashigawa made his move to the front to lead for the first time of the weekend putting the series points leader, Daniel, back to second and finishing there. At the checkered flag, it was Hayashigawa, Daniel, Scott Falcone, Tony Rossetti and Ron Rossetti.

2010 Rotax Pan Am Series Championship - Masters
1. Mike Daniel
2. James Hummel
3. Scott Falcone

DD2 Masters champion Jim Busby
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)

DD2/DD2 Master
Both classes were settled coming into the weekend but drivers from both classes showed up to complete their championship runs. With Derek Wang having the DD2 won, he entered Senior Max. Wes Phillips completed his series to earn the second spot on the Pan Am standings and the spot on the Grand Finals roster. In DD2 Masters, Jim Busby wrapped up his championship earning his trip to Italy.

2010 Rotax Pan Am Series Championship - DD2 Senior
1. Derek Wang
2. Wes Philips
3. Nathan Mauel

2010 Rotax Pan Am Series Championship - DD2 Masters
1. Jim Busby
2. Todd Ulmen
3. Kegan Piper

Senior Max
Coming into the weekend Jesus Rios Jr. (CRG) had the championship virtually locked up and a solid run on Saturday clinched his 2010 Pan Am Title. So the battle was for second between Victor Pedrosa (Tony Kart) and Andy Dunne (CRG).

Again, the Pan Am regulars were joined by CalSpeed veterans in Qualifying making the competition that much better. Posting the best time for Saturday was local driver Jeremy Kane (Birel), who moved from Junior to Senior following the New Castle Pan Am weekend. His time of 50.926 bested US Grand National Champion Stepanova Nekeel (Tony Kart) 50.933. They were followed by Dunne, Louie Pagano (Birel) and Troy Castaneda (CRG).

The start of the Pre-Final put the first 3 drivers in order with Castaneda slotting into 4th followed by Pagano, Rios, Pedrosa, Wang and Zeen. Scott Saunders dropped out after the green flag with a flat front tire. At the half way mark, Dunne had moved into 2nd ahead of Nekeel, Pagano and Pedrosa. With Dunne and Pedrosa counting points, every position was critical. Nekeel got back by Dunne on lap 10 and Pedrosa moved passed Pagano into 4th on the last lap. The final order had Kane leading flag to flag with Nekeel 2nd, Dunne 3rd, Pedrosa 4th and Wang moving into 5th on the last lap. Factoring in the points after the race, Dunne now lead Pedrosa by 4 points.

The start of the final was not kind to a couple of drivers as they got pushed out in turn 1, Dunne was the biggest victim moving him from 3rd to 8th along with a bent steering shaft. At the same time, Pedrosa moved into 2nd behind Nekeel. Behind them it was Kane, Wang and Castaneda. On lap 4, Castaneda worked into 4th and Rios worked into 5th. This is how the order stayed. Saunders, who started from the back put his Mike Manning kart into 4th on lap 14 ahead of Castaneda and finished there. At the checkered flag, it was Nekeel, Pedrosa, Kane, Saunders and Castaneda. The 216 of Dunne finished 8th, which took the 4 point advantage he had at the start of the Final to a 4 point deficit to Pedrosa at the finish. Sunday would bring more opportunity.

Double Senior winner Stepanova Nekeel
(Photo: Sean Buur - Go Racing Magazine)

Nekeel was again on top Sunday in Qualifying but dropping to a sub 50 sec time at 49.715. He was followed by Pagano at 49.736, Kane 49.775, Saunders 49.823 and Pedrosa 49.882. Dunne would finish in 6th out of the qualifying points.

At the drop of the green for the Prefinal, everyone got a good run into turn 1 and the first lap was tight but clean. Crossing the strip for the first time, it was Nekeel in the lead with Pagano, Saunders, Pedrosa, and Kane following. At the half way point it was still Nekeel but Pedrosa had worked into 2nd. Pagano, Saunders and Kane rounded out the top 5. Nekeel completed his sweep of the pre-final, leading Pedrosa, Pagano, Saunders and Kane over the strip for the last time. Dunne lost a chain on lap 9 ending his chances for a Grand Final trip to Italy. The point lead Pedrosa now had, was insurmountable to overcome. With all the pressure off of both drivers it was time to enjoy the final run of the season.

The Senior Max class final would wrap up the 2010 Pan Am Challenge. The start of the final was a repeat of the pre-final with Nekeel again leading, Pedrosa following making it a 1-2 Tony Kart front. Saunders slotted into 3rd with Pagano and Castaneda right behind. On lap 2, Pagano and Castaneda both moved in front of Saunders while Dunne had worked up to 6th followed by Kane, Rios, Zeen and Wang. On lap 11, contact from behind to Zeen, from Dunne, forced him off track and he returned at the tail of the field and pulled off a lap later. The field continued with the leaders maintaining position and some movement in the back of the field. On the final time across the strip it was Nekeel, Pedrosa, Saunders, Castaneda and Dunne. This officially gave the second Grand Final spot to Pedrosa.

2010 Rotax Pan Am Series Championship - Senior Max
1. Jesus Rios Jr.
2. Victor Pedrosa
3. Andy Dunne

The final awards of the day were the presentation of the 2010 Pan Am Grand Finals Team. These drivers will be joining the rest of Team USA to make a 21 person strong contingent to the Rotax Grand Finals. The majority of the team will be meeting in Ocala for a test weekend. 2010 Team USA sponsor OGP has brought in chassis from each of the manufactures that will be providing chassis at the Grand Finals. Drivers and Mechanics will have the chance to learn the chassis they will be working with in Italy the weekend of October 16 and 17.

Article Credit: Rotax Pan Am Challenge
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