Race ROUNDUP: KARTING CHALLENGE RD 4
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 15, 2019) - As drivers switched gears for the first race back on the Counterclockwise National layout, familiar faces were once again found near the front of the grids. With more than 80 competitors on hand and sunny skies, it was a near picture-perfect 4th Round of the 2019 Karting Challenge season.
the boys are back in town in iame mini swift
It was a star-studded cast on-hand for the 4th Round of the season in the IAME Mini Swift class, with series regulars such as Miguel Costa, Matias Orjuela, and Jakub Kolar returning to action. They were joined by recently-signed Mercedes F1 Junior driver Alex Powell, who took an off weekend to get back to his roots in South Florida.
Costa got a good tow off the "Jamaican Sensation" to pull of a flying lap in qualifying, but the Pre Final was a hard-fought battle between himself, Powell, and Jakub Kolar. A last lap shuffle between the two saw Powell come out ahead with Costa right in line behind, setting the stage for a spectacular Main Event.
The Final was nothing short of an international-level chess match, with each of the three aforementioned drivers taking points at the lead. Late in the going, Powell created some separation in the pack by pushing Costa and himself away from Kolar. Then, on the final lap, Powell made an unbelievable move around the outside of Costa to take the lead and the eventual win. Costa crossed the line third after contact occurred amongst himself and Jakub Kolar, but officials handed a penalty to the Formula K driver which promoted Costa to P2.
rookie takeover in tag senior
Arguably the most unpredictable race on the weekend, the TaG Senior Final was something to watch. Right off the bat, front-runner Jack Copeland was taken out of contention when contact was made in Turn 5 on the opening lap. That left a four-driver train up front, with Joshua Wright, Franco Ragusa, Yannick Rolland, and Luigi Luciani dicing things up for the top spot.
After some more contact late in the Final saw Luciani suffer a mechanical failure to match that of Copeland, Wright was able to break away from the fray. He then went on to put a near 2.5-second margin on the field en route to his first career victory in his first Karting Challenge start. Ragusa ended second with Rolland rounding off the podium in third.
new colors, newfound speed in iame x30 junior
Lucas Rodriguez had just one weekend of driving on the new Kart Republic chassis prior to Round 4 of the Karting Challenge. The long-time Tony Kart driver had decided on the switch prior to the weekend, but his drive with such little seat time on the material was impressive nonetheless. He completely swept the day's action in X30 Junior, fending off 2018 Champion Ashton Chilton and hard-charger Jimmie Lockhart The pair ended 3rd and 2nd, respectively.
4 rounds, 4 different winners IN LO206 JUNIOR
Alejandro Ramirez has had a consistent start to 2019, picking up a podium finish in each of the first three rounds. However, the 2018 vice champion has been driving with a chip on his shoulder to avoid becoming a bridesmaid once again. After qualifying just 0.031 off the pole, Ramirez went on to win out in the Pre Final after battling with 2018 Champion Ashton Chilton and newcomer Collin Lloyd.
The Main Event once again saw a battle form early, but the race changed as the drivers hit the halfway point. Lloyd seemed to have something of an engine issue form in the second half, fading back to an eventual sixth place finish. Pole sitter Vance Devine and rookie Gregory Pelea both lost touch with the lead group as well, leaving the fight for the win to be settled between Ramirez and Chilton. Ramirez took the challenge and dug deep, finding a bit more speed to stretch a near 3-second gap by the checkered flag. Chilton held on for second with Devine fending off Pelea for third.
iame ka100 junior: 2-in-a-row
Jimmie Lockhart was the guy to beat on Sunday. A perfect run through qualifying and the Pre Final put the Karting Experience driver on pole for the Final. However, two failed start attempts reversed the front row rows, slotting Lockhart into third. He made quick work of the field, though, and never turned back once he got to the lead. His second win in just as many races is certainly impressive, but with Round 4 being the first points-counting round in the championship, it also makes a statement for the title chase. EJ Tamayo ended with his best career finish in second while Luke Welcome rounded off the podium in third.
iame micro swift: wheldon back on top
Redemption was the title of Oliver Wheldon's weekend in IAME Micro Swift. The young driver from St. Petersburg, Florida lost out on going two-for-two back at Round 3 with a mechanical DNF. He rebounded nicely into Round 4, however. A clean sweep of the day's action sees him jump back on top of the point standings after drops with Matteo Franco-Ruggiero right in tow.
the gap closes in iame bambino
Alessandro Truchot seemed to have a leg up on the competition for the three exhibition rounds to kick off 2019, but Benja Fernandez had other plans for the first official round of the championship. He qualified on pole by over a second, a hefty margin even in the novice-level division. Truchot got the holeshot to start the Final, and after Fernandez made an error trying to pass for the lead, Truchot went on to take his 4th win on the season. Fernandez held onto second after his bobble, with Maxwell Macha coming home in third.
isambard strikes back in shifter
After losing out just barely in Round 3, Alan Isambard returned with a vengeance in Round 4. The fifteen year-old from West Palm Beach dominated the entire day, besting teammates Sebastian Hazbun and Allen Christy with a comfortable margin in each session. Hazbun and Christy ended second and third, respectively.
THE RAINBOW WARRIOR REIGNS IN LO206 HEAVY
Greg Thek sat on the sidelines for the first three rounds of the 2019 Karting Challenge by MG season. The Margay driver decided to finally get in on the action for Round 4 with a red, blue, and yellow throwback suit and fresh Margay Ignite chassis. He was unstoppable all day in the class after qualifying on the front row, sweeping all the Pre Final and Final. RYSA Racing BirelART driver Dan Breitenstein was close in pace, but a DNF in the Pre Final forced him to the tail of the starting order for the Main Event.
In the Final, it was actually MGM driver Neil Breitenbach who made a late race charge, but he came up just short in the end. Breitenstein did put on an impressive drive nonetheless to get onto the podium, closing the gap to both Breitenbach and Thek by the end of the session.
lo206 senior: experience and wits vs. raw speed
Round 2 Winner Frankie Barroso put his RYSA Racing BirelART on pole in qualifying the LO206 Senior division, but the field was closer in lap times than it had been all season. In the Pre Final, Michel Garrido took advantage of the rookie's little experience to go to the lead from the outside of the front row. Fellow series veteran Bobby Ross jumped into second. The two ran 1-2 for the entire 9 lap race, locking in the front row for the Final.
In the Main Event, Barroso quickly nipped Ross off the green to get back up to second. However, Garrido controlled the pace throughout the session by keeping the two younger drivers behind him. Further back, SLA Kart Racing driver Miguel Rivera began tracking down the leading trio. On the closing laps, Ross got back by Barroso, but the TB Kart pilot had nothing for Garrido. The masterful defending by the Tony Kart driver scored him his first win on the year, with Ross coming home in second.
Barroso crossed the line in third, but a penalty for avoidable contact on the final lap with Rivera swapped the two drivers. With the penalty, Rivera extended his championship lead over the field and continued his podium streak.
Up next is Round 5 of the Karting Challenge presented by MG Tires on Sunday, June 23rd.
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