2015 marks the introduction of some major adjustments to the Rotax Mini-Max category in the United States of America. The biggest adjustment comes as drivers are now required to run a larger, full-size chassis compared to the Mini chassis used in years past. After it was kicked off in Tucson, Arizona three weeks ago at the Rotax Challenge of the Americas, the next test came at the Florida Winter Tour where Mini-Max competition is at the finest.
The results haven’t been very positive thus far as only 21 drivers entered the category in Homestead, Florida, down in bunches from 2014, and in comparison to a week prior at the FWT the entry was cut in half. Many drivers from the ROK Cup dropped back to Micro-Max to remain on the smaller chassis or decided to not race Mini-Max at all in 2015.
And for those who did race this past weekend, many of the drivers ran into issues with the chassis simply being just too big for them. Special seat brackets were seen on many karts just to get their drivers into position to reach both the steering wheel and pedal extensions and with some of the smaller drivers who are even in their final season before moving up to junior, fatigue became an issue as the weekend wore on.
One thing that was noticeable however was drivers and teams who have been racing on the chassis for the past season, whether it be in Canada or around the world where the larger chassis was already required, these drivers excelled. Two notables include Mexican Sebastien Alvarez (PSL Karting/PSL Mini X2) and Nicholas d’Orlando (KoeneUSA/TonyKart). Alvarez came out on top in both finals, having been a test driver for PSL’s developmental chassis and competed in Canada last year, while d’Orlando, who won both PreFinals, also competed in a pair of Canadian outings in 2014 to help prepare him for 2015.
But it was drivers like Matthew Latifi and Lachlan DeFrancesco who we found had the most trouble running up front in a class that they are used to being on the podium in. Both drivers are small for their age but haven’t shown any issue to wheel a go-kart around until now and it has us wondering if the larger chassis rule was the right direction to go by Rotax officials in North America. Sure it’s a great stepping stone to Junior Max, but for drivers between 10 and 13, growth and development varies significantly by every driver and while it is easy to move up a category if a driver is growing, staying down because the driver hasn’t grown isn’t really a positive option for others.
The show will go on however and it will be interesting to see how the class progresses in 2015 and beyond.
Let us know in the poll below which chassis you believe the Mini-Max class should be on and leave a comment if you have more to say.