This weekend marks the season finale for the Rotax Challenge of the America’s championship, which will be decided just outside the Napa Valley in Sonoma, California at the Simraceway Performance Karting Center. Among all the action there is going to be a battle royal between four Rotax Senior drivers heading into this weekend Championship finale as American Christian Brooks leads the Canadian Trio of Bryce Choquer, Kellen Ritter and Matthew Taskinen in the championship fight.
Ritter (RPG/Kosmic) drew first blood at the season opener in Tuscon where he was fast all weekend taking the win in Saturdays final after qualifying fourth. Ritter was poised to deliver the same result in Sundays final after winning the prefinal. However lady luck would not be on Ritter’s side when a flat tire took him out of the final early while leading during the opening laps. Moving on to Phoenix, Ritter was battling an illness in what would normally hinder a drivers performance. However after being determined to rebound in the championship chase after a disappointing race two, Ritter came back strong to finish on the podium both days. With the good showing in Phoenix, the RPG driver sits third in points 20 markers behind Brooks after drops are accounted for.
“This year’s COTA has been very up and down for me. Winning the first round in Tucson, to DNFing the next day. Phoenix was the most enjoyable, unenjoyable weekend at the same time. Having an ear infection made driving for the long races very difficult. Im hoping this weekend will go our way so we can win the championship.” – Kellen Ritter, #399 Rotax Senior
Taskinen (RPG/Kosmic) on the other hand made his senior debut at this year’s Challenge of the America’s season opener. From the get go in qualifying the pace was there for the young Canadian putting second on the grid for the Prefinal. Unfortunately, Saturday’s final result didn’t reflect the pace Taskinen had in qualifying after he finished the final in the eighth position. With the Saturday result behind him Taskinen came back strong on Sunday qualifying second, finishing the prefinal in third then ultimately winning the final after a late race battle with Choquer and Brooks. The second round of the championsip at Phoenix Taskinen once again was at the front of the field finishing both finals in the fourth position. When drops are accounted for going into the final weekend Taskinen sits fourth in the championship 42 points behind the leader
“The challenge has exceeded my expectations so far as I did not expect my first year in senior to go this smooth and allow me to have a chance at the championship though I still feel I can improve a ton going into this last round The top four are very close and I think I’m in good spot going in to these last two races being 40 or so points behind the two leaders. I gotta try and win every session and hopefully get a little luck behind me to be able to win the championship.” – Matthew Taskinen, #398 Rotax Senior
Last but not least is Bryce Choquer (BBR/PBD Kart), who is the most experienced of the three Canadians going into the last race. Choquer’s experience has been a valuable asset being the most consistent driver out of the three while making the PBD brand noticed in the North American karting market. Choquer podiumed both days in Tuscon allowing him to come away from the weekend with the championship lead. At the next round in Phoenix, Choquer was able to take the win in the Saturday final in order to further increase the championship gap to his closest rival. Sunday started out as a routine day for the Canadian in qualifying putting the BBR prepped machine second on the time chart. However, in the Prefinal he fell down to seventh and then was forced to retire early in the final. After drops Choquer currently sits a mere two points behind championship leader Brooks and has more than a realistic shot at winning the championship as well as earning another opportunity to join Team Canada.
“We have had a very successful start to the 2017 season with 3/4 podiums finishes. With my team behind me we are feeling very confident going into the final round of COTA.” – Bryce Choquer, #301 Rotax Senior
Official Practice for this weekends races will take place on Friday leading up to Saturdays and Sundays main events to determine this year’s series champions. Be sure to check the CKN Facebook page for updates on how the Canadians fair this weekend as well as the Rotax Challenge of the Americas Facebook page and website for more information about this weekends event.