Perfect weather greeted karters at Horn Rapids Kart Track in Richland, Washington for the start of the third season of the Can-Am Karting Challenge. Hosted by the Tri-City Kart Club, competition proved to be tough as teams and drivers would begin their quest for race wins, championships, prizes and awards and elusive Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals tickets.
Kicking off the weekend’s festivities, series participants, mechanics and families were treated to a BBQ on Friday night. Held immediately following the final practice session, everyone enjoyed burgers, hot dogs and drinks before Saturday’s official on-track action.
With two full race days of qualifying, prefinal and final on the schedule for the first round of the 2015 Can-Am Karting Challenge, action was plentiful as big name drivers would enter the growing series.
Micro MAX Presented by GoKart Hero
Saturday’s Micro MAX final was a two kart race, after last year’s champion Josh Pierson was out of the running early. Left to Diego LaRoque and fast qualifier Ashton Torgerson to duel it out, an exciting last lap pass put Torgerson on point to score the first Can-Am Micro MAX win in 2015. LaRoque finished second with Jason Leung in third.
LaRoque again was ultra-fast on Sunday, but today Pierson was up for the challenge. With LaRoque spinning coming out of the front straight, losing the lead with only a few laps to go, Pierson, who was about two kart lengths back, was able to capitalize and drive to the day’s win. LaRoque and Torgerson finished second and third respectively.
Mini MAX Presented by MonsterX
An early fight for the lead in Saturday’s Mini MAX final soon changed to a one-man show, as pole position winner Grant Langon was able to pull away at the end to take the victory, leaving a two-kart battle for the remaining podium positions. Jonathan Portz and Jacob Blue Hudson completed the podium.
Sunday saw Langon dialled in. With drivers swapping positions behind him, the young gun was able to drive away from the field to score his second win on the weekend. Portz finished second with Dustin Salaverria in third.
Senior/Masters MAX Presented by Promagine
A host of karters took to the Senior MAX field, as Christian Brooks, Artie Carpenter, Bryce Choquer, and LukeSeliken were tops all weekend long. Jordan Redlin was in the mix as well on Saturday, but was crashed out in turn one of the prefinal. Burning off tires in the final to try to make up positions, Redlin was left out of contention. With pole sitter Brooks fastest on Saturday, Carpenter was able to challenge for the lead early in the final, before Brooks made it back to point and eased away. The battle for second place brewed behind him, with Davey Manthei pressuring Carpenter for the rest of the laps. Choquer managed to cross third, but a disqualification in tech took him off the podium.
Sunday was all Carpenter. Seliken, who had prior commitments to run stock cars and didn’t start Saturday, was in the mix early, but an engine failure on Sunday took him out of contention. With shuffling during the first few laps, Carpenter led the rest of the way to take the win. Brooks and Manthei completed the podium. With only on Masters competitor, John Breidinger mixed it up with the Senior drivers in the combined class.
Junior MAX Presented by RPG
Michael McCarthy was fast from the start, taking the Junior pole position by a slight margin over Sting Ray
Robb. Nicholas Bruckner was also at the top of the time sheets all weekend. Saturday’s final saw Robb fall back early to fifth, but then battle back to take the checkers over McCarthy. Michael Michoff came home third after Bruckner drove off in the final corner and into the barriers while running third.
Sunday’s podium was a repeat of the previous day, with Robb earning a three second victory over McCarthy and Michoff.
Shifters Presented by Wicked Fabrication
Saturday saw Kory Estell work out the kinks, after being out of a kart since the 2014 SuperNationals. With nearest rival Kyle Wick completing recent testing, it showed at the opening Can-Am round as Wick dominated the weekend. While Estell showcased a few good starts and led a few laps, Wick was the class of the field, taking both feature wins.
LO206 Presented by Briggs & Stratton
The LO206 class in Richland was the talk of the weekend. Gaining entries basically every time the class went ontrack, people pulled karts out of their trailers, including race promoter Mike Rolison, to get in on the action. With spectators lining the track to take in the most popular class on the weekend, Saturday’s race was full of action and attrition. Stepanova Nekeel and Rolison were fast on Saturday, with Rolison out of the action on lap eight after dropping a chain. Dave Manthei was in the mix running second until he drove off and fell down the running order. Nekeel took the checkers but was light at the scales, putting Connor Wick on top of the podium in his first race. Mason Buck and Ryan Vallee completed the podium.
Sunday saw even more entries in the LO206 class, as Sting Ray Robb got in on the action and Chris Brooks took on his first ever sprint kart race, having only ever raced indoor karts. Nekeel again was fast, even slowing down the field at one point to make the race interesting. With Nekeel eventually scored in third, the win went to Buck with Saturday winner Wick in second.
The Can-Am Karting Challenge will resume at the end of May at the Southern Oregon Kart Track in Medford, Oregon May 29-31.
For more information on the 2015 Can-Am Karting Challenge, please visit www.CanAmKartingChallenge.com. For general questions and information as well as questions about online registration, please contact Info@CanAmRotax.com. For information and questions regarding the Rotax cylinder exchange program, please contact Mike@CanAmRotax.com.