The 2013 Rotax Pan American Challenge has hit the track in New Orleans, Louisiana. The final chance for drivers to qualify for next months Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, this weekend also acts as a test for many drivers who are already qualified as NOLA Motorsports Park will host the Grand Finals.
With the Pan Am being an International event, this weekend’s event will award the winners of Junior, Senior, DD2 and DD2 Masters with tickets to the Grand Finals, with the winning drivers awarding their previously earned ticket from their respective National championships. Micro-Max and Mini-Max classes will also award three tickets per class, meaning no team in North America is set just yet.
After two days of practice, Friday saw official qualifying and heat #1 for every class. While a bright sunny sky welcomed everyone to the beautiful facility, a heavy rain storm rolled through at lunch, making for some interesting heat races.
In Micro-Max, it was Canadian Matthew Latifi (Ferrolati Corse/TonyKart) setting the bar in Qualifying after controlling most of the practice sessions. Second place was American Dylan Tavella (TonyKart) followed by Harry Coulton (Birel) of the UK in third.
For the remaining Canadians, Nicholas d’Orlando (TonyKart) was fourth, Joshua Cunha (OK1) was 14th, Marco Kacic (CRG) 15th, Patrick Woods-Toth(CRG) 16th, Xavier Harris (OK1) 17th, Jordan Novota (Birel) 24th and Jeremy Tallon (Birel) 25th.
Heavy rains hit the track before the Micro-Max drivers lined up
for the first heat race, meaning they were all on wet tires for the first time this week for their first race. Latifi led the way through lap one, but the Ontario driver ran wide on lap two and fell victim to the very heavy grass. Although he would resume, it was far behind the action.
This left Tyler Gonzalez of the USA out front and he would control to the finish with a great drive by Patrick Woods-Toth to finish second. Columbian Sebastien Rodriguez (TonyKart) was third with the remaining Canadians finish: Harris 6th, Tallon 8th, Novota 15th, Cunha 22nd, Latifi 24th and Kacic 32nd.
Saturday will see drivers line up for their second and third heat races from the position they qualified.