It was a picture-perfect setting on Sunday in Millville, New Jersey as the US Open of New Jersey and US Rotax Grand Nationals finished up a successful weekend of racing. Just like the weather, the racing was hot and with Rotax Grand Finals tickets on the line, everything came down to the finish line.
Here is a run down of the action that crowned the 2017 US Rotax Grand National Champions.
Luke Selliken secured his first Rotax Grand National Championship on Sunday in New Jersey. Battling away in the first two-thirds of the race with Michael d’Orlando, Selliken went to the lead with seven laps to go when d’Orlando slowed down the back stretch with apparent engine issues, leaving Selliken with a big lead to drive to the checkers.
With d’Orlando struggling to complete the next lap, a tight battle for second then ensued between Ryan Norberg, Stephen Mallozzi and Nicholas d’Orlando with Ryan MacDermid was just behind.
Norberg turned up the wick in the closing laps to not only break away from Mallozzi, but also close in on Selliken but he ran out of laps in the end.
With only one ticket available this weekend in Rotax Senior, Selliken will be going back to the Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal as a member of Team USA.
After a wild opening couple of laps, Jack Jeffers and Brent Crews were able to get away from the pack and compete in their own race for the win. The two went back and forth with Crews getting the upper hand for the majority of the laps. Jeffers had a peek on the final lap in the lower section of the track, but he backed out and lost enough momentum that Crews was able to open a small gap and arrive first at the checkered flag.
In an intense battle of five karts for the final podium spot, James Egozi managed the battle well and secured the third place finish.
As part of the prizes, Crews and Jeffers will represent the USA at the Rotax Grand Finals in Micro-Max.
What a show in Rotax Junior!
A pack of four emerged quickly after the green flag featuring defending Junior Max National Champion Dylan Tavella, defending Mini-Max Champion Tyler Gonzalez along with Hannah Greenemeier and Arias Deukmedjian.
With every pass one driver would pull out a lead only for it to be swallowed back up by the chasing pack.
Coming down to the end Tavella was leading until Gonzalez made a brilliant move to catch the leader off guard and allow both Greenemeier and Deukmedjian to slide through as well, while Tavella was left scratching his head now in fourth.
The pressure continued all the way to the finish line as Gonzalez celebrated another Rotax National title with Greenemeier right behind, securing her first ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals as Gonzalez is already qualified. Deukmedjian narrowly held off Tavella which also confirmed his spot on Team USA.
Rotax DD2/DD2 Masters
There was simply no stopping Davide Greco in Rotax DD2 this weekend and he delivered another perfect performance in the Final to secure the victory by 13.5 seconds! The win will send Greco to the Rotax Grand Finals for the first time as a member of Team Canada.
After starting second, Ethan Simioni retired and it was smooth sailing for Michael McCarthy to take the second position and the Team USA ticket to Portugal.
Behind them there was a tight battle between the DD2 Masters drivers which saw Ariel Castro beat Rafita Moro Loco for top honours in class. Moro Loco wound up with a penalty post race, elevating Nathan Mauel up to second and earning him a trip to the Rotax Grand Finals.
There can be no complaining about engine parity after the Mini-Max final as no less than ten karts battled in a tight pack for the victory!
Josh Pierson controlled the race from the pole position but it was Diego Contecha who went to the lead early on and he had Luca Mars all over his rear bumper and a line of karts in tow.
As the shuffling continued, Mars first went to the lead and then fell back as Aidan Fox charged forward along with Pierson.
Coming to the last lap, Fox held the spot but he ran just enough wide on the exit of turn two to allow Pierson to slide underneath and take the lead before turn three.
That was all Pierson needed as even with Fox looking left and right for a place to pass, Pierson ran the perfect defense on the final lap to secure the Rotax National title! Fox drag raced Pierson to line and finished second while Contecha overtook Santiago Trisini on the final lap to complete the podium.
Pierson will represent Team USA at the Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal this fall along with Fox!
Rotax Max Masters
The Rotax Max Masters closed out the weekend with a great showing in their Final. Renato Jader led the field to the green but the tight-knit group did not spread apart. Instead, Luis Schiavo, Billy Cleavelin, Derek Wang, Scott Roberts, John Bonanno and Adam Pettit put the pressure on the leader.
Many drivers took their turn out front with Schiavo and Cleavelin keeping their karts within the top-three for most of the race.
With three to go, Bonanno and Pettit came together in the lower section of the track and ended their chances while Cleavelin went to the lead, overtaking Schiavo.
Schiavo then came under pressure from Derek Wang, who went to second on the final lap but he didn’t have enough to make a move at the leader. This meant Cleavelin secured the Rotax National title and since he’s already qualified for the Rotax Grand Finals, Wang, who finished second, secured the ticket to Portugal. Schiavo crossed in third, just ahead of Roberts.