The 2013 Rotax Pan American Challenge has hit the track in New Orleans, Louisiana. The final chance for drivers to qualify for next months Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, this weekend also acts as a test for many drivers who are already qualified as the NOLA Motorsports Park circuit will host the Grand Finals.
With the Pan Am being an International event, this weekend’s event will award the winners of Junior, Senior, DD2 and DD2 Masters with tickets to the Grand Finals, with the winning drivers awarding their previously earned ticket from their respective National championships. Micro-Max and Mini-Max classes will also award three tickets per class, meaning no team in North America is set just yet.
After two days of practice, Friday saw official qualifying and heat #1 for every class. While a bright sunny sky welcomed everyone to the beautiful facility, a heavy rain storm rolled through at lunch, making for some interesting heat races.
Rotax Mini-Max saw American KRex Frederick (Kosmic) post his fastest lap early in the session and it hold all the way to the end of the 10 minute session. Mexican Manuel Sulaiman (AM Kart) just missed the pole by 0.036 seconds, while Aidan Keel (Birel) of the USA was third.
Only three Canadians are in Mini-Max as Griffin Dowler (TonyKart) was 8th, Michael d’Orlando (TonyKart) was 15th and Roman DeAngelis (TonyKart) was 25th.
In heat #1, it was rain tires on a very wet track even though the rain had stopped falling. Lots of action would see American Mathias Ramirez (TonyKart) pull away with the victory as USA drivers holding the top seven positions. Sting Ray Robb (Kosmic) was second followed by David Malukas (Top Kart). Polesitter Frederick would fall all the way to 11th in the wet conditions.
d’Orlando would move up to 12th, while DeAngelis drove up to 15th. Trouble for Dowler would see him retire on lap one after a crash.
Saturday will see drivers line up for their second and third heat races from the position they qualified.