Crossing the border for round three of the 2015 CAN-AM Karting Challenge international drivers invaded the challenging Greg Moore Raceway in Chilliwack, British Columbia this past weekend. A record turnout of drivers, exceptional racing including heart-racing Briggs & Stratton LO206 action and intense championship battles highlighted the weekend’s action in the Great White North, the penultimate round of the championship. Cool temperatures, dark clouds and rain were prominent throughout the weekend but with only one exception, the entire weekend ran in dry conditions.
– Carpenter Near Perfect To Gain Championship Lead in Rotax Senior
– Sting Ray Robb Untouchable in Junior Max
– Briggs & Stratton LO206 Racing Provides Appealing Alternative Low-Cost, High Excitement Option
– Pierson and Torgerson Battle Tooth and Nail in Micro-Max; LaRoque and Langdon Become Mini-Max Winners
– Wick Excels in S2 Shifter
Carpenter Near Perfect To Gain Championship Lead in Rotax Senior
With a ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals on the line, the plot thickened this weekend in Rotax Senior presented by Promagine. Coming off of a big win in race four Artie Carpenter entered the weekend on the heels of his RPG teammate and championship leader Christian Brooks and the momentum continued in Canada.
Walker Hess stole the pole-position in Qualifying while Coltin McCaughan, making his first CAN-AM Challenge start of the season claimed the win in the PreFinal but it was all Carpenter from there. McCaughan and Brooks exchanged the lead on the opening lap of the Final until Carpenter overtook both of them by lap three and never looked back. McCaughan kept him honest but was unable to mount an attack on the lead and seventeen laps later Carpenter scored his second win of the season to tighten up the championship with Brooks a ways back in third.
Carpenter kept up the strong pace on Sunday, kicking off with the fast time in Qualifying before holding back McCaughan for a second straight day in both the PreFinal and Final. The racing for the lead was quite eventful as both drivers pushed each other to nearly matched lap times throughout the entire 20-lap Final. Luke Selliken joined the action on Sunday and finished third after competing in his local oval racing car the night before.
With Brooks only able to manage a sixth place result, Carpenter overtook the championship lead with only two races remaining in the race for the title.
Sting Ray Robb Untouchable in Junior Max Presented by RPG
Sting Ray Robb, the young driver from Boise, Idaho continues to prove why he is one of the fastest Junior drivers on the planet. Already qualified for the Rotax Grand Finals as part of Team USA, Robb is using the CAN-AM Challenge to test the spec Praga kart that he will utilize in Portugal and on track he was simply untouchable, with only one hiccup all weekend the kept him from clean sweeping the event.
Saturday featured an eventful battle for second between Hunter Melahn, Michael Michoff, Michael McCarthy and Annie Breidinger after Robb had built a sizeable lead in the opening laps of the Final. But on lap four Robb pulled off the track after noticing a issue with his left rear wheel that ultimately became loose.
Taking advantage, Michoff grabbed the lead while McCarthy and Melahn came together on lap five, allowing Michoff to get away and elevating Breidinger to second. From there Michoff was off to the races while Matthew Morgan and Edward Portz claimed the final podium positions following a very spirited battle between a handful of drivers for the positions with McCarthy and Breidinger completing the top-five.
Sunday was a personal battle for Robb as he once again checked out on his competition, winning the PreFinal by almost ten seconds and the Final by thirteen. Spencer Kunz, McCarthy, Michoff, and Kellen Ritter duked it out for second until Ritter fell back with apparent brake issues. McCarthy came out on top to finish second, taking advantage or Kunz with two laps to go, with Michoff doing the same on the final lap. Matthew Taskinen was able to overtake an ailing Ritter on the final lap to close out the top-five.
With Robb well out front in the championship that race for the Rotax Grand Finals ticket comes down to the championship runner-up with Michoff, McCarthy, Breidinger and Ritter all in the running.
Briggs & Stratton LO206 Racing Provides Appealing Alternative Low-Cost, High Excitement Option
The growth of the Briggs & Stratton LO206 category is one of the main reasons why the series reached a new high for entries at a single event in Chilliwack. 23 drivers tackled the four-stroke platform and the racing was spectacular, drawing the most attention during both days of action.
While Derek Wang was able to sneak away in Saturday’s Main to score the win, the racing behind him for runner-up featured Shifter driver Kyle Wick, Junior Rotax pilot Sting Ray Robb, Stepanova Nekeel, who started at the tail of the grid, Vitali Tchikichev and Mason Buck. The group raced like it was Talladega and ended with a drag race to the finish line where Wick edged Nekeel by a hair for the second position.
Sunday once again was full of action, this time with no driver getting away easily for the victory. Unfortunately for Saturday winner Wang, his chances of doubling up were held up in corner one, stuck behind an incident.
A lead pack of eight ran nose to tail through the opening laps led by Nekeel and Wick who exchanged the lead back and forth. The tight racing allowed Bryce Choquer to catch up after he started at the rear along with his brother Blake. Nekeel managed to control the race from the front countering nearly any rival that attempted to pass as Bryce worked his way forward in the 15-lap main event.
But it was Choquer who made the move to the lead on the final lap, squeezing inside Nekeel in corner one and defending through the first half of the final circuit. Safely managing the group behind him on his home turf to complete the lap, Choquer erupted as the victor with Nekeel second and Kellen Ritter third.
Pierson and Torgerson Battle Tooth and Nail in Micro-Max; LaRoque and Langon Become Mini-Max Winners
As the youngest drivers on track in Chilliwack Micro-Max was a little divided with three small packs of racing throughout the weekend. A pair of drivers, Josh Pierson and Ashton Torgerson led the way and put on a battle every time on track that even the announcer couldn’t keep up with the number of passes for the lead. Back and forth the two exchanged the lead, keeping it clean and rarely touching tires whether it was a PreFinal or Final. With a brilliant pass on the outside of corner three on Saturday and again on Sunday, but in the third to last corner, Pierson came out on top of his rival in both Finals with Torgerson still getting an A for effort. Joining them on podium on Saturday was Ryan Dezall while on Sunday it was Jason Leung, with the pair having their own battles all weekend long for third place.
In Mini-Max a new driver joined the action and made an immediate impact. Moving up from Micro-Max this weekend Diego LaRoque felt no intimidation from his older competitors driving to victory on Saturday after a spirited battle with Hannah Greenemeier and Austin Torgerson. It was very similar story on Sunday with the addition of Grant Langon to the mix. LaRoque had to battle back from the rear bad he still joined the lead action with a handful of laps to go and the four drivers put on a show with Langon coming out as the winner with Torgerson on his rear bumper at the finish line. Greenemeier settled for third.
Wick Excels in S2 Shifter
Kyle Wick excelled in the lone shifter kart class on the weekend. After qualifying on the pole-position and winning the PreFinal on Saturday, a slow jump off the line for Wick allowed Joe Criscione to jump out to a big early lead and while Wick recovered, he ran out of steam before the checkered flag flew. But Wick battled back on Sunday and never turned a wheel wrong en route to the victory, clearing Criscione by four seconds at the finish line. Don McGregor completed the podium on Saturday while Justin Walsh finished third on Sunday.
To view a photo gallery from the event click here: http://bit.ly/1DhGxwb.
A special thanks to the presenting sponsor for the Chilliwack race: Cactus Club Cafe and a Thank You to the series sponsors: GoKart Hero, Monster X, Wicked Fabrication, Briggs & Stratton Racing and especially to all the volunteers and club members from West Coast Kart Club that made this race possible.
The CAN-AM Karting Challenge now takes a mid-summer break before the championship finale held at Pat’s Acres Racing Complex in Canby, Oregon on September 11-13. Champions will be crowned and tickets to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals for the Junior Max and Senior Max classes will be distributed in an event nobody will want to miss. In addition to the regular lineup of classes, a Rotax DD2 shootout will send the weekend winner to the Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal. More information about the CAN-AM Karting Challenge visit http://canamkartingchallenge.com.