The opening round of the Sofina Foods US Open karting championship is in the books following a spectacular day of racing in New Orleans. Taking to the deep south, racers from across the country and around the world converged on NOLA Motorsports Park for the second season of US Open racing powered by Maxspeed Entertainment.
Askew Simply Unstoppable in Rotax Senior
The day started off with the Rotax Senior category where Oliver Askew continued his dominance, hitting his marks all race long and completing the perfect weekend. Askew has proven he is one of the best drivers in the USA, winning in nearly every category he currently enters.
Behind Askew, front row starter Gianfranco Mazzaferro withdrew on the opening lap after losing a chain coming through one of the curb sections. From there, the action didn’t heat up until the final laps. Dutch driver Rinus Van Kalmthout ran second from lap one all the way to the white flag, but was passed by his teammate Trenton Estep, with Austin Garrison and Darren Keane, who started deep in the field, all sliding through in corner eight. Garrison wasted no time sliding by Estep a few corners later. Keane and Van Kalmthout tried all the they could to work their way onto the podium in the remaining corners but at the line it was Askew followed by Garrison, Estep, Keane and Van Kalmthout. Kellen Ritter, Jake French, Linus Lindgren, Walker Hess and Matthew Paesch finished out the positions six through ten.
Brueckner Barely Holds on to Rotax Junior Race
Aiden Keel jumped out front at the drop of the green flag, overtaking pole-sitter Nick Brueckner into turn one. Behind, Dylan Tavella got crossed up with Riley Dickenson, slowing them up along with Ryan MacDermid.
After Bruecker retook the lead before the end of lap one, Australian driver Reece Cohen took his shot at the lead, but it only lasted a lap with Brueckner back at the point. Matthew Latifi, Keel, Cohen, Manuel Sulaiman and Hannah Greenemeier all pushing hard, Brueckner was able to break free of the battle, pulling out to a 1.6 second lead by halfway. Things settled down from there as Cohen and Sulaiman ran in line with hopes of tracking down Brueckner while Keel withdrew with a lost chain. Moving forward as well was Tavella and MacDermid, joining the race for fourth with a few laps remaining.
With Brueckner slowing up just enough, Cohen and Sulaiman caught the leader with three laps to go with Cohen once again taking a shot at the lead with Sulaiman following him through. Brueckner persevered again however, returning to the lead before the white flag flew and this time holding on to the checkered. Cohen took a lunge into the final corner at the leader but it wasn’t enough and cost him the second step on the podium to Sulaiman while MacDermid recovered to finish fourth after Tavella lost a chain with two laps remaining, ending his excellent recovery drive.
Mathias Ramirez, Latifi, Payton Durrant, Zoey Edenholm, Jacob Gulick and Alejandro Jaramillo rounded out the top-ten.
Kingsley Rules in Rotax DD2
Dev Gore did his best on the opening lap of the Rotax DD2 final, passing Jeff Kingsley on the exit of corner three but that was all he could manage as Kingsley quickly passed him back before the completion of the opening lap. Like the rest of the weekend, all the Canadian needed was to get out front and his PSL Karting machine helped him power away from his competitors.
Gore surrendered the second position to his teammate Micheael McCarthy before halfway with the two unable to keep up with Kingsley. Running in tandem to the finish, McCarthy looked to be on his way to a second place finish until he slowed coming down the back straight on the final lap with a gearbox issue, ending his race and moving Lawson Nagel to third at the finish line. Rhett Thomas and Moises De La Vera were fourth and fifth.
Battling within the race for fourth, Nathan Mauel showed the speed this weekend to race with the leaders in Rotax DD2, also qualifying second overall on Friday. This pace allowed Mauel to stay ahead of his fellow DD2 Masters competitors and score the win with Luis Zervigon and Joseph Licciardi alongside on the podium.
No Issues for Nick Neri in Shifter Senior
Continuing the dominating trend he started on Saturday, Nick Neri was impressive in the Shifter Senior final on Sunday, driving perfect laps and pulling away to a 3.6 second victory in his first race in nearly a year.
It appeared Austin Wilkins and Sabre Cook may have something for Neri in the opening laps, but when Neri was pressured, he made no mistakes and pulled away from his fellow competitors.
Wilkins ran second for a good portion of the race until a mysterious issue slowed him up, falling down to fifth. This allowed Cook to assume the second position, holding it until the finish with Sky Findlay taking third. Ben Schermerhorn and Wilkins were fourth and fifth.
The Shifter Masters competed amongst the Shifter Seniors with Ryan Kinnear doing his best to race with the front-running Seniors, pacing around the top-five. In the Final, Kinnear crossed in seventh to lead the Masters drivers, with Chris Jennings and Jerry Rhodes also on the Shifter Masters podium.
Laroque, Gonzalez and Cleavelin Win in Micro-Max, Mini-Max and Masters Max
A five-kart race split up as the laps wound down in Micro-Max with Diego Laroque taking the victory. James Egozi helped Laroque break free, but a failed attempt at the lead just before the white flag, caused Egozi to slow up, ultimately losing a position to Josh Pierson before the finish. Carson Morgan settled for fourth after losing the lead draft with Ashton Torgerson fifth.
Continuing his winning ways this year, Tyler Gonzalez held off a hard charging Arias Duekmedjian to claim victory in Mini-Max. It appeared Duekmedjian considered a pass, but let up in the final corner and settled for second. Jak Crawford, Jeremy Fairbairn and Thomas Nepveu were third, fourth and fifth.
Finally, closing out the racing in New Orleans, Billy Cleavelin worked his way into the lead of the Rotax Max Masters race at the halfway point and never looked back. Enjoying an early race with Scott Roberts and Derek Wang, Cleavelin’s pace in the second half was impressive as he powered away from his competitors. In a drag race to the finish line, Roberts edged Wang for second with John Robicheaux and David Pergande in the top-five.
For the second round of the Sofina Foods US Open, MaxSpeed Entertainment will travel to the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele, Utah on June 23 to 26.