Photo Credit: Cody Schindel,
Autosports Media Group
Team PSL Karting continued its storming start to the season a week ago as the CRG squad was in Fontana, California, for the second round of the 2011 Gatorz Challenge of the Americas. Following on the heels of six wins and fourteen podiums in January, Team pslkarting.com added another three wins and four more podiums at CalSpeed Karting Center. Nicholas Latifi and Felipe Fraga, combined to score all four, and the pair each now lead their respective championship classes with one round left to run.
“It was a really great weekend,” said Latifi, who has now gone four-for-four in his Gatorz DD2 starts. “The event was well organized, everything was on time and ran really smoothly. I had never been there before so it was a good challenge to learn the track quickly. I really liked the layout of the track, and we dialed the kart in pretty well.”
As he did at the opening round in January, Latifi qualified on pole for race three but the weekend became anything but ordinary after a win in the prefinal. “It started to rain and as a result the final got postponed until the next day,” the rookie DD2 driver said. “We came back strong in the morning to take the win in a pretty relaxed race, but Sunday was a little different than Saturday. I had a lot of heat from the other drivers and I got passed in both the prefinal and final. I really had to fight harder, and the win then felt much better on Sunday because I had to really race for it.”
With the perfect record he now has in tact heading to the final round at the Jim Russell International Karting Center in Sonoma, Latifi is on the cusp of attaining the goal he set for the season - a return trip to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. “It feels amazing to be so close to a World Finals spot,”Latifi said. “This is the goal for the season, and to have nearly reached it in the first attempt makes it that much better. It will relieve so much pressure in the other big championships if we can achieve it. I really have to thank Coy, my mechanic, and David Tennyson, my driving coach, for all their hard work and commitment. And also my parents for all of their encouragement and support. I couldn't do any of this without them.”
Matching the performance of Latifi on Sunday, Fraga was perfect in Rotax Senior. After finishing second in the Saturday final, the Brazilian earned pole on Sunday, won the prefinal while setting the fastest lap, and followed with the main event win, his first of the season. His 404 points have him looking back at the pack with one round left to run, and place him as a second PSL/CRG driver targeting the Grand Finals early in the season.
The Gatorz squad doubled in size from its four entries at event one, as eight PSL drivers were in action at round two. Austin Versteeg was fighting at the front once again in Mini-Max and spent much of the Sunday running in podium position before being forced to retire. He now sits third in a very tight championship chase. He was joined by Gianfranco Mazzaferro in Mini-Max, while Rotax veteran Wes Phillips joined Fraga and Sabre Cook in Rotax Senior. Siblings Evan and Madeline Komar joined Latifi in DD2 to complete the roster.
Full PSL results are listed below. The 2011 Gatorz Challenge of the Americas concludes March 18-20 at Jim Russell International Karting Center in Sonoma, California.
PSL Karting Results from Gatorz Challenge of the Americas II - Fontana, California
Nicholas Latifi - 1st, 1st
Evan Komar - 5th, 8th
Madeline Komar - 8th, 7th
Felipe Fraga - 2nd, 1st
Wes Phillips - 9th, 11th
Sabre Cook - 23rd, 24th
Austin Versteeg - 9th, 15th
Gianfranco Mazzaferro - 13th, 6th