Only one week removed from Rok the Rio, we are packing our bags again with the same destination in mind. Las Vegas, Nevada will once again be packed with kart racers from around the world as the SuperKarts! USA SuperNationals hit the track this week at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino. A different temporary circuit has been set up in the rear parking lot of the Rio, providing another unique racing opportunity for kart racers looking to cash in in Sin City.
This will be the third time SKUSA has returned to the Rio for their annual SuperNationals. After two years challenging drivers at the Las Vegas Convention Center across the road from the Westgate, SuperNationals 22 returns to their unofficial Las Vegas home.
Nearly 500 entrants are registered to take part across ten classes, including no less than a dozen Canadian drivers. The SuperNationals utilizes IAME engines for their single speed categories, a brand not raced much in Canada, which explains the smaller turnout of Canucks compared to Rok the Rio. But the intense competition that SKUSA provides each year, as well as a unique vibe only found at the SuperNationals is enough reason for any driver to enter this showcase event. For shifter racers, the Honda Stock Moto package provides for the power for the mainstay categories, while the SuperNationals adds the KZ2 category each year to draw in some of the worlds best kart racers and give drivers the opportunity to race alongside their heroes.
The Canadian contingent will mostly do battle in the X30 Junior and Senior classes. Six of the entries will compete in X30 Senior and there are a couple of headlines to look at.
Samuel Lupien enters the race with the SKUSA National #2 plate. He nearly became Pro Tour Champion this year and now has a ranking to prove his ability. He’s been fast in years past at the SuperNationals and since he had to give up his ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals in Brazil, we know he will pushing hard to end his season on the top of the podium.
Scoring a victory against the largest field of drivers he’s ever competed against, Ryan MacDermid closed out the SKUSA Pro Tour with a win in New Castle, Indiana. While he ended up ranking just outside the top-five overall, MacDermid heads back to Vegas after taking victory at Rok the Rio just one week ago and is destined to be a threat for victory with Prime/BirelART.
In a decision that has surprised many, Ben Cooper will suit up once again for battle. The three-time Rotax Grand Finals champion is coming out of retirement for the SuperNationals and has been quietly preparing for months in Mont-Tremblant. Cooper will team up with the Lupien brothers at Rolison Performance Group aboard a Kosmic Kart and without a doubt, will be a front-runner.
Indycar driver Zachary Claman Demelo, who went toe-to-toe with MacDermid at Rok the Rio will also suit up at the Supernats. He nearly won two years ago and simply loves temporary karting circuits. Look for ZCD to battle up front with Lupien, Macdermid and Cooper.
I addition, Cedrik Lupien and Logan Cusson will also compete in X30 Senior.
Looking at the trio of Canadians entered in X30 Junior has us hopeful for at least a podium. These three drivers have been fast all season long, especially at the SKUSA Pro Tour events, where all three are ranked inside the top-10.
Justin Arseneau finished fifth overall in the Pro Tour courtesy of a couple podiums. In his first season as a Junior, Arseneau has exceeded expectations and wouldn’t surprise us one bit if he were to stand on the top of the podium on Super Sunday. Mackenzie Clark and Thomas Nepveu ranked seventh and ninth overall after the third round of Pro Tour in Indiana and given their up and down results, may have passed the most karts this season en route to their rankings. They know how to throw down on a temporary circuit, especially Nepveu, who won the SuperNats two years ago in Mini Swift.
The five remaining Canadians on the entry list will do battle in the shifter kart divisions. Antonio Serravalle, Randy Tang and Lucio Masini are entered in KZ2 and will race against the factory supported race drivers from CRG, SodiKart, DR Kart, BirelART and more. Serravalle found himself in the top-ten last year and while he’s been out of a kart for most of the 2018 season, it shouldn’t take the youngster from Markham, Ontario to get back up to speed.
British Columbia’s Dan Monteiro is the lone Canadian entered in the Pro Shifter division. The first and currently only category to sell out is a merger of the former S1 and S2 classes, putting 40+ of the best Honda Stock Moto racers together on the track. Monteiro will suit up with Vemme Kart.
Also racing with Vemme Kart through the Checkered Flag Racing operation will be Bryan Stauffer in Shifter Masters. Stauffer is also from British Columbia and has a large field of expert drivers to contend with on the temporary circuit at the Rio.
CKN will land in Las Vegas on Wednesday morning, just in time for the first day of practice. It will be a jam-packed weekend of racing, with each day split into two parts before coming together on Super Sunday for the Finals. Qualifying kicks off on Thursday as the final session of the day for each category. Sunday’s races will also be live streamed via the SuperKarts! USA Facebook page.