The 2020 karting season officially got underway this past weekend as the SKUSA Winter Series held the first event on the calendar. Several Canadian drivers and teams made the trek down to Southern Florida to compete on the AMR Homestead-Miami Motorplex in the program catering to the IAME engine platform.
Three Canadian drivers were able to drive their way onto the podium, including Patrick Woods-Toth, who steered his Prime Powerteam BirelART to the Saturday victory in the hotly-contested X30 Senior division, which featured 53 entries.
It was a remarkable finish between Woods-Toth and four-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Ryan Norberg. After an early race battle amongst eight karts, the two were able to break free. Both held the lead through the middle of the race and traded again in the closing laps. With Norberg out front on the final circuit, both were playing games to out-duel their counterpart. Flying down the final straightaway, Norberg elected the defensive inside line and that allowed Woods-Toth to fly around the outside, over the exit curb and steal the lead away right before the finish line.
We’re not sure what it is about the Homestead-Miami Motorplex for Woods-Toth but since making his debut in Senior last winter, he hasn’t finished worse than sixth in six races, including a major comeback in Sunday’s Final, rebounding from an opening corner crash to finish sixth.
After just missing the podium on Saturday, Thomas Nepveu raced his way to a solid third-place finish in Sunday’s main event. While the race leader was able to break away, the fight for second place was intense all race long. Nepveu held the spot until the final lap, surrendering it to Norberg while trying everything he could to defend his position.
The third podium for Canada came on Saturday in the hands of Jackson Pearsall. Competing in Micro Swift, Pearsall was cruising along in fourth place when suddenly the leaders all came together. He navigated the wreckage and came out with the lead just before the midway point of the race. Leading many laps, Pearsall would eventually be caught by two competitors and slipped back to third place. He tried to stick with the leaders but their pace was just too much and he had to settle for third, scoring his first international podium!
The second and final round of the SKUSA Winter Series returns to Homestead in a month to determine the 2020 series champions on February 8-9.