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 NOLA Motorsports Park 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.
The second pair of Ocala Gran Prix teammates to sweep the front row in their respective classes, Americans Kyle Kirkwood (TonyKart) and Ashley Rogero (TonyKart) led the way in Rotax Junior as 37 karts split the group into two sessions. A tie for third would see American Juan Manuel Correa (TonyKart) better Brazilian Pedro Cardoso (CRG) with his second quickest lap to take the position while Austrian Thomas Preining (CRG) capped the top-five.
Coltin McCaughan (FA Kart) led the Canadian contingent with a seventh place run, while Jeffrey Kingsley (TonyKart) and Gianfranco Mazzaferro (TonyKart) were 12th and 13th. Anthony Tolfa (TonyKart) ended up 25th, with Christophe Paquet (CRG) 31st and Adam Martin 35th.
Like the Rotax Seniors, the Juniors hit the track on slicks, but the run off water continued to drain on the
entry of the chicane, wreaking havoc for drivers.
In A vs B, Rogero would control from start to finish to take the win with the UK’s Jai Nijjar (TonyKart) second and American Austin Versteeg (Kosmic) third. Mazzaferro ended up eighth with Tolfa two spots back in tenth.
In C vs D, it was the German Philip Hampecht (Kosmic) taking the win ahead of Estonian Juri Vips (Energy Kart) while Cardoso ended up third. Kingsley did cross in fourth, but a cone penelty moved him to fifth, with McCaughan eighth, Paquet twelfth and Martin fourteenth.
Saturday will see drivers line up for their second and third heat races from the position they qualified.