The most anticipated race of the weekend at the Rotax Challenge of the Americas 2015 season finale was also the race that capped off yet another successful year of racing for the west coast winter championship. Competing at the Sim Raceway in Sonoma, California, all eyes were on the Rotax Senior division as no less than five drivers entered the final day with a legitimate shot at the championship.
For the second day in a row the Championship contenders were separated for qualifying and it got underway with a bang as points leader Christian Brooks (Nash/TonyKart) came into contact with Jake Craig (RaceLab/Formula K) on the out lap, sending both drivers back into the hot pit for repairs.
With no drivers allowing a competitor to gain a draft, it appeared that Saturday race winner Bryce Choquer (BBR Karting/TonyKart) would earn his second pole-position of the weekend, but a last lap heroic flyer by Brendon Baker (Nash/TonyKart) just eclipsed Choquer’s time to earn the pole and the five bonus points that went with it.
There was no shortage of action in the PreFinal as the crowd has been presented all season long and this time it was Baker coming out with the win over Louie Pagano (2Wild/TonyKart), Mason Marotta (RPM/TonyKart) who was back in action after being sat out of Saturday’s racing, Philippe Denes (RPG/Kosmic) and Luke Selliken (RPG/Kosmic). Contact with two laps to go sent Brooks off track and out of the points while Craig was penalized after the race for the contact, forcing the two to start near the tail of the grid for the Final.
With all the marbles and a ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal on the line the tension rose on Sunday afternoon.
Baker and Marotta immediately jumped the lead with Pagano and Selliken in tow while Choquer led the rest of the field as Brooks and Craig were moving forward quick hoping for any chance of a championship.
The front two were able to break away for a bit, but the gap closed up as the laps wound down and Pagano and Selliken rejoined the leaders to make it a four horse race with Brooks not far behind.
Pagano fell out of the running with five to go when his side pod fell off, but not without mixing it up with Baker after Marotta jumped to the lead. This would be enough for Marotta to break free, while Baker and Brooks tangled a lap later entering turn two, ending Bakers racing and championship hopes.
With Selliken now in second and Brooks doing all he could to track him down in third while being hounded by Choquer the last lap flag was thrown. Choquer dove to the inside in corner one, but Brooks was able to counter and regain the third and final podium position. But that was all Selliken needed to take the title.
Marotta made a statement after his disqualification of Saturday’s events to become the only double-winner in the category while Selliken claimed the title with a second place effort, while not winning any of the six races. Brooks closed out the podium with an impressive rookie campaign that included five podium appearances, while Choquer and Denes completed the top-five.
Selliken will join Team USA for the second time in his career at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Portimaõ, Portugal this November while the rest will have only a few other opportunities to qualify for the ‘Olympics of Karting’ this season.