Round one dominator Ugo Ugochukwu scored another convincing victory at the Challenge of the Americas on Saturday, but his winning streak in Rok Junior came to an end on Sunday at CalSpeed Karting as Austin Torgerson topped the podium after Ugochukwu got into penalty trouble in the PreFinal.
On Saturday Ugochukwu (TonyKart) was elevated to the top of the charts after fast qualifier William Ferguson (TonyKart) had his times excluded in tech. Like in Phoenix, Ethan Ho (RedSpeed) joined him on the front row for the PreFinal.
After a slow start, Ho regained the second position and kept pace with Ugochukwu throughout the PreFinal to ensure he started on the front row alongside his rival.
But Ugochukwu’s pace in the Final was just a little too much for Ho to keep up with and it was a relatively quiet Final as Ugochukwu cruised to the win, his third in a row. Ho finally found the COA podium that he has had the pace for since round one, finishing second, with third going to Austin Torgerson (TonyKart), who won the battle with Ed Portz (FA Kart) and his younger brother Ashton Torgerson (TonyKart).
The intensity was increased on Sunday and in Qualifying, a cool morning meant it took a little longer for the Bridgestone tires to get heated up. Spending the entire session on track paid dividends for Ugochukwu and Ho as they both posted their fastest times of the sessions on their twelfth and final lap and were separated by a mere 0.024 seconds!
Ho really put the pressure on in the early going of the PreFinal and on lap three went to the lead. Ugochukwu countered the pass heading up the hill and contact was made that saw Ho soar into the barriers, nearly flipping his kart. His race ended while Ugochukwu slowed up and fell back to fourth. Austin Torgerson would accept the opportunity and win the PreFinal over Cooper Becklin (BirelART) and Portz. Following the race, officials deemed Ugochukwu as the cause for the crash and penalized him ten spots, meaning both he and Ho would start from the rear.
Portz took the early lead of the race as the excitement was electric early with Ho and Ugochukwu coming through the field. On lap four Torgerson and Becklin worked past Portz and then hooked up to break free from the pack.
By lap eight, Ugochukwu and Ho were into third and fourth and chasing the leaders, but Torgerson and Becklin played it smart and continued to work together. Ugochukwu inched closer and with two laps left he finally found the rear bumper of Becklin. Battling through lap traffic, Becklin did all he could to keep the championship leader behind, allowing Torgerson to open up a small lead and confirm the victory. After losing the position, Becklin regained the second step of the podium in the final corners while Ugochukwu had to settle for third.