Recently announced as an Indycar driver for 2018, Canadian Robert Wickens will lace up his race boots this week at the SKUSA SuperNationals in Las Vegas, USA, taking on the challenge of the KZ2 SuperPro category and some of the worlds top shifter kart pilots. It has become an annual tradition for Wickens to take part in a kart race in Las Vegas to end off his season, competing in the US Open of Las Vegas races over the past two years as well as the SuperNationals in 2013, all in the Rotax DD2 category. This week, it will be his first race in a proper shifter kart since he competed in the SKUSA Pro Moto Tour as a teenager.
In speaking with CKN, Wickens attributes that keeping active in a kart is the best training he can do and it helps him work on his race craft among other benefits.
“Karting is the best training I can do. From feeling the balance to just staying fit, it beats going to the gym every time! To top it off being able to work on my race craft in what has always been in my opinion one of the most competitive forms of motorsport! You just can’t beat it!”
– Robert Wickens
He will compete aboard a BirelART kart with the Prime Powerteam, an operation run by his older brother Trevor Wickens. The two have supported each other since they began karting nearly twenty years ago and whether it’s Robert racing for Trevor or Trevor attending Roberts races around the world, the two are always in communication.
This summer, Wickens hinted that he was going to compete at the SuperNationals when he posted a video of him testing a 6-speed shifter kart at Mosport Kartways (watch below), but it wasn’t until about a month ago that he confirmed his entry, especially with the change of scenery Wickens went through after announcing his departure from the Mercedes DTM team for a ride with Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports in Indycar alongside fellow Canadian James Hinchcliffe.
“It’s been a long time since I raced a shifter class, but I’m really excited to race with he worlds best in Vegas. I haven’t done a standing start in karting since 2005 but I’m sure all my years in DTM have kept me pretty sharp in that area.”
“Thankfully everyone at Schmidt Peterson Motorsport is keen on me staying fit in a kart just as much as Mercedes was in my past. To this day I still try to get in a kart for a day any chance I get.”
The KZ2 class is packed full of the worlds best kart racers, but Wickens is no stranger to racing against the best. In 2013, he qualified on the pole position at the SuperNationals in Rotax DD2 in another field of globally talented racer. It’s a sense of competition that really fuels Wickens want to race karts at the biggest events.
The SuperNationals kicks off with practice on Wednesday on the temporary circuit at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Qualifying hits the track Friday followed by heat races that lead up to the Final of Super Sunday.
CKN will be trackside at the SKUSA SuperNationals to cover all the action, with our coverage presented by Vemme Kart.