Three races down, three race to go. The 2015 Rotax Challenge of the Americas hit the championship halfway point with the completion of Saturdays main events, helping set the tone for the points battles as drivers chase championship glory and for some, tickets to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals.
As the largest class of the weekend Rotax Senior welcomed some new faces to the category this weekend while a couple of front runners from Tucson opted not to return, shaking up the championship chase.
After a cat and mouse session in qualifying it was Luke Selliken (RPG/Kosmic) on the pole-position over Tucson winner Brendon Baker (Nash Motorsports/TonyKart) and Mason Marotta (RPM/TonyKart).
The lengthy PreFinal allowed for plenty of shuffling where Marotta wound up as the winner over Baker and Christian Brooks (Nash Motorsports/TonyKart), with the Rookie Senior entering the weekend as the championship points leader. Selliken fell to fourth and Louie Pagano (2Wild/TonyKart) was fifth.
Much different than the excitement we enjoyed in Tucson, the boys and girls played much nicer in Phoenix. Aside from an incident that saw Pagano soar through the dirt early on, the race was quite settled as Baker jumped out to an early lead with Brooks and Marotta in tow. Selliken, Bryce Choquer (BBR Karting/TonyKart) and Jim McKinney (Overdrive/TonyKart) made up the second pack of drivers all battling for fourth while the front three broke away.
It appeared that Baker had the race in the bag with a comfortable lead, but a late race mistake allowed the hard charging Brooks to catch up and pass for the lead with two laps to go. As the last lap flag flew, Baker was pressured by Selliken, who was able to track down the leaders, allowing Brooks to drive to the finish line without challenge to take his first victory as a Senior and extend his championship lead.
Baker held on to take second over Selliken while Marotta and McKinney completed the top-five while Choquer fell to ninth at the finish line behind Gustavo Menezes (2Wild/TonyKart), Jake Craig (RaceLab/Formula K) and Justice Lepe (Nash Motorsports/TonyKart).