The 19th annual SKUSA SuperNationals had the karting worlds focus this past weekend as the extremely popular event once again drew more than 500 entries of drivers from all corners of the globe.
Facing a new venue and a whole list of new challenges the SKUSA crew did their part to continue their success in the city known for high risk gambles. First impressions were very doubtful as a tricky track layout drew concern. The first day of practice wasn’t too smooth either with many complaints of a very bumpy and uncertain surface, forcing SKUSA officials to remove one curb section and attempt to repave a very bumpy portion of the braking zone on main straight of the temporary track.
But when the racing got underway the vibe that is the SKUSA SuperNationals returned. The racing was cut-throat where mistakes happened all too often by drivers who seemed to forget they were on a temporary track with no room for error. Just qualifying for the main event was reckless, especially under the lights, where once incident even involved a driver jumping out of his kart and attacking another, and eventually left the facility in handcuffs.
But come SuperSunday, all the buzz in the paddock was silenced and the focus turned to the nine SuperNational Finals, and did they ever put on a show.
TaG Junior kicked things off with Brazilian Arthur Leist going flag to flag to earn the win. Many others including Anthony Gangi Jr., David Malukas, Zach Holden looked like they had to the potential to win entering the Final, but Leist delivered an unstoppable performance, keeping everyone behind as he drove off into the distance.
It took a couple attempts to get the TaG Senior class underway with Australian ‘Deadly’ David Sera leading the way through corner one. A massive pile-up in corner one left a radiator spill needing cleanup, bringing out the full-course yellow for two laps. Back under green, Stepanova Nekeel retired only one corner later, surrendering second place with a mechanical issue. Under attack, Sera was challenged by Louie Pagano, Logan Sargeant, Marco Maestranzi, Brendon Baker, Jake Craig and Christian Brooks with the USA taking it to the Internationals. The 25-lap pursuit would see Pagano hold off Maestranzi to the finish line to claim easily the biggest victory of his career and claim a massive $16,000 payday.
KZ2 was next up in the main categories and after a dominating week by the UK’s Jordan Lennox and his BirelART there was a new driver leading the way when the shifter karts erupted outside of corner one. Canadian Philip Orcic, driving a Mach 1, nailed the holeshot to take the early lead while Lennox faded early, eventually exiting with an engine failure. Orcic led the first sixteen laps until a hard charging Gary Carlton snuck by on lap seventeen and he brought his Formula K teammate Patrick Hajek with him. Carlton was pressured by Hajek but nothing was going to stop the American from returning to the top of the SKUSA podium for the first time since 2006! A very emotional Carlton couldn’t hold back after the race, roaring to the crowd and receiving handshakes and hugs from everyone in the vicinity.
For the young guns, TaG Cadet was a thriller. Pole sitter Nicholas d’Orlando was forced wide at the start when Sam Mayer jumped to the inside of corner one, creating a massive traffic jam containing almost half of the drivers. The lead battle was fierce but with one lap to go it came down to the American Oliver Calvo and the UK’s Jonny Edgar. Calla grabbed the lead in corner one and back and forth the two went until the final corner where Calvo opened up the door and Edgar slid right in. Attempting to hold on to the outside, Calvo came in contact with the barriers as Edgar went on to take the win. Initially Edgar was penalized for the incident until a lengthy protest proved that Edgar’s move was clean and he was awarded the victory. Canadian Lachlan Defrancesco drove from 21st to 8th in the race to secure the SKUSA Pro Tour Championship in the process giving BENIK Kart the race win and the title.
Finally, Danny Formal closed out the event with a purely dominating performance in S1. Untouched all weekend long, Formal completed the weekend sweep with the sun setting in the distance, claiming a $3000.00 payout as well. Other winners included Dario Capitano (S2), Hunter Kelly (S5), Jimmy McNeil (S4) and Kip Foster (TaG Masters).
Canadian drivers Philip Orcic (KZ2) and Evan White (S5) stood on the podium in third place in their respective categories.