Championship weekend got underway on Saturday as the Rotax Challenge of the Americas rolled into the heart of wine country to the SIM Raceway Karting Center in Sonoma, California for the third and final round of the west coast winter championship.
Before things even got underway, a little controversy was found in the paddock as two drivers failed technical inspection following the final round of practice. An engine builder was caught adding a substance to the fuel and series officials came down hard on the two drivers, sitting them out of Saturday’s competition and ultimately ending their chances at their respective class championships.
Once the action got underway it was Canadian Bryce Choquer (BBR Karting/TonyKart) who led the way in Rotax Senior Qualifying. The grid was split into two groups allowing the four championship contenders to have clear track, but none were able to better the time posted by Choquer.
After an eventful PreFinal that saw championship points leader Christian Brooks (Nash/TonyKart) take the win and a few added points the Seniors were back in action to close out the days racing.
From the drop of the green flag it was action packed. Jake Craig (Formula K/RaceLab) was pushed wide exiting corner one, falling well back while Brooks led, Choquer, Louie Pagano (2Wild/TonyKart), Philippe Denes (RPG/Kosmic) and Brendon Baker (Nash/TonyKart).
Pagano and Brooks traded the lead early to begin yet another dog fight in the Senior Max class. So much action that featured no less than six different drivers lead the way at one point or another, including Jake Craig who fought back from an opening lap incident to the lead, only to be run wide a lap later.
After falling back to seventh, Brooks worked his way back to the lead with two laps to go ahead of Choquer and Luke Selliken (RPG/Kosmic), with a gap further back to Baker, Craig, Denes and Pagano, and while the last lap looked innocent, a late lunge by Choquer got him under Brooks in the final corner of the final lap. As Brooks defended, Selliken exited wide and the three drag-raced to the finish line. With Brooks looking left and right, the three approached the finish line mere inches apart, where Choquer narrowly edged out Selliken and Brooks for the victory, to become the fifth different race winner in five COTA Senior Max races.
It was an amazing race setting up Sunday’s championship shootout where four drivers all have a shot at the title!