Karters from around the globe invade the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele, Utah, for the second stop of the Sofina Foods US Open Karting Championship. Cody Schindel previews the event.
The Utah Motorsports Campus, formerly known as Miller Motorsports Park, is no stranger to Rotax Max competition, hosting the US Rotax Grand Nationals twice in the past eight years. Now the popular karting venue with scenic 360-degree views hosts the US Open for the first time. Utilizing 19 corners to make up the 0.89-mile circuit, UMC is one of the longer karting circuits in the USA and is preferred by many drivers for its challenging layout.
Following the Finals on Sunday, the championship leaders in all seven Rotax Max Challenge categories will earn an invitation to represent their home country at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, held later this year at the famed Circuito Internazionale di Napoli in Italy.
The Rotax Grand Finals is an invitation-only event, featuring drivers from as many as 50 different nations, with everyone competing on equal equipment to determine the annual Grand Finals Champion in each category.
After tight racing at the championship opener in New Orleans and with an increase in the number of points available in Utah, a solid weekend by any driver could send them to the Grand Finals and also give them a chance at the US Open Championship.
Everyone chasing Brueckner in Rotax Junior
After his perfect weekend at NOLA, Nicholas Brueckner leads the way in Rotax Junior category. The American qualified on pole position, swept the heat races and controlled the main event from flag to flag to secure the maximum number of points available on the weekend. He thus holds a 55-point gap to Australian Reece Cohen and Mexican Manuel Sulaiman who share the second position. In a category stacked full of international talent, a pair of Canadians rounds out the top-five with Matthew Latifi ahead of Ryan MacDermid.
Can Askew be stopped in Senior Max?
After dominating most of the Florida Winter Tour in the Rotax DD2 category, Oliver Askew flipped over to Rotax Senior for the US Open and made it look easy, leading the way in every session in New Orleans to maintain control of the championship. Austin Garrison and Trenton Estep, the defending US Open Junior Max Champion, share second place, with a 55-point gap behind Askew. Garrison has switched teams since the last race and will compete aboard a COMPKART in Utah where it appears one of these three Americans will secure the ticket to Italy.
Duel between Neri and Cook in Senior Shifter
As one of only two non Rotax Max classes, Senior Shifter is a close battle. American Nick Neri delivered when it counted most in New Orleans, taking the victory in convincing fashion. Throughout the weekend, Sabre Cook was in contention, ultimately settling for second in the main event and sits only 35 markers back of the leader while Sky Findlay was a bit of a surprise in taking third in the Final and he enters the weekend 60 points back of the leader. The leaders will have two strong additions to the category in Utah as Kyle Kirkwood and Troy Diede have entered the competition.
Other class leaders entering the weekend in Utah are: James Egozi (Micro-Max), Tyler Gonzalez (Mini-Max), Jess Kingsley (Rotax DD2), Nathan Mauel (Rotax DD2 Masters), Billy Cleavelin (Masters Max) and Ryan Kinnear (Shifter Masters).
The FIKSE Wheels Mojo Tire-Changing Competition
One of the popular events during each MaxSpeed Entertainment event this year has been the FIKSE Wheels Mojo Tire-Changing Competitions. Mechanics, drivers and team managers are challenged each race to swap four tires in the fastest time with a limited edition UNIPRO Stopwatch up for grabs for the winner as well as an invitation to compete in the championship finals in Las Vegas.
The action gets underway on Friday with Qualifying and one Heat for all categories. Saturday will feature three more rounds of heat races to set the grid for Sunday’s Main events.