SuperNats XXII

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SuperNats XXII

Supernationals

SuperNationals XV - 2011
Fifteen years in the making, the 2011 Superkarts! USA SuperNationals completed November 20 with the crowning of the 11 event winners outside the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. A record number of 528 entries and over 500 drivers from around the world gathered for the five-day event to close out the organizations Pro Tour championship series. Over $122,000 in cash and prizes were dolled out at the Sunday evening award ceremonies, non bigger than the $10,000 check awarded to KZ2 driver Anthony Abbasse for his victory in the headline category. Italian Mirko Torsellini and Canadian Phillip Orcic rounded out the Pro categories, taking the checkered flag in S1 and TaG Senior.

KZ2
Abbasse (Sodi) and Rick Dreezen (Tony Kart) sat on the front row as the lights went out to begin the 25-lap main event. Abbasse grabbed the holeshot with Dreezen holding on to the second spot as Bas Lammers (Praga), Marco Ardigo (Tony Kart) and Yanick De Brabander (Formula K) slotted in behind. Lammers was the driver on the move early, working by Dreezen, he began to run down Abbasse who pulled out to a 1.2-second lead in the first two circuits. Just four laps later, the gap was only four-tenths. That distance vanished two laps later with Lammers diving inside Abbasse for the lead in turn six. Abbasse held his ground until lap 10, when he returned to the point with a draft maneuver into turn one. Their suffling allowed Ardigo and Dreezen to close the gap. At the same time, it appeared that Lammers made contact with a barrier as his paced slowed. First with Ardigo working around and then Dreezen through as well, Lammers continued on and eventually finished 10th.

With Ardigo now in challenger position, he and Dreezen inched closer and closer to Abbasse. By lap 22, it was a three-way battle for the win. Ardigo made his move on lap 24, getting alongside Abbasse as they exited the tight turn three section. Side-by-side through the fast and narrow kink of turn four, Abbasse held him off as they exited turn five. From there, the Frenchman ran a defensive line with no mistakes and no contact from Ardigo, much like their DNF result in 2008 when they crashed out leading the race. At the line, Abbasse claimed the checkered flag and the $10,000 payday. Ardigo earned second, just 0.076-seconds behind at the line, recording his fourth podium finish in five years. Dreezen added a third to his second from one year ago. Also returning to the podium was Birel driver Thomas Mich as he ran a solid fourth. The driver on the move late was Intrepid’s Beitske Visser. Starting 14th, she put on a show with fast laps of the race and nearly scored a podium finish, only to be held back by KZ2 World Cup runner-up De Brabander as the Vegas rookie rounded out the podium.

American Gary Carlton (LH) finished seventh for another top-10 finish in the category, proving why he is the top shifterkart driver in the country. Vegas native Matt Jaskol (CRG) completed an impressive event, returning to the seat after a year hiatus and inside the top-10 all week, ending in eighth. Veteran Italian shifterkart driver Alessandro Piccini (Tony Kart) was ninth with Lammers tenth.

S1
For the first time in the event’s history, the S1 Pro Stock Moto category was won by a non-American driver. Italian Mirko Torsellini was a late entry as the CRG factory driver elected to compete in both KZ2 and S1 in his first trip to the SuperNationals. Coming to grips with the Honda powerplant, Torsellini improved each session on track. Qualifying eighth, he was top-three in all three heats to start outside row one alongside top performer Indy Dontje (Energy). The Dutch driver grabbed the holeshot with he and Torsellini out to a solid lead early. On lap four, Torsellini made his move for the lead with a deep move into turn one. From there, Mirko continued to get quicker and quicker. Posting his fastest lap on the 24th circuit of the 25-lap event, Torsellini gave the international contingent its first S1 victory by just over four-seconds. Dontje ran alone to place second, improving one spot on last year’s performance.

The driver making it a show was Kiwi Daniel Bray (GP). The Pro Tour point leader started 13th after trouble in qualifying and a heat race. The second-quickest driver on-track next to Mirko, Bray drove to third place finish to clinch the #1 plate for the 2012 season, matching his #1nz plate back in New Zealand. Title contender Tom Dyer (GP), with an outside chance at the title, saw it disappear after getting turned around in turn three on the opening lap. 2010 Pro Tour champ Fritz Leesmann (CRG) drove to his second straight SuperNats podium in fourth with S1 rookie Joey Wimsett (CRG) recording an impressive fifth after dealing with issues early on in the event.

TaG Senior
Providing some of the best racing throughout the week, the TaG Senior division continued that through to SuperSunday. A stacked field of the best drivers in North America challenged throughout the 25-lap event. Qualifying showed Canadian Phillip Orcic had the speed to challenge for the win, posting the fast lap of the session. With two heat wins, the Zanardi driver started outside the front row alongside American Joel Miller (FA Kart). After receiving the green flag, a number of incidents around the opening corners put a handful of contenders on the sidelines and shuffled up the running order up front. Brazilian Felipe Fraga (Zanardi) came away with the lead over defending race winner Andre Nicastro (Italkart). Orcic fell to third with Miller dropping outside the top-five. A number of drivers were among the lead pack until a break away of four drivers formed, including Nicolas Morales (Tony Kart). After some swapping for the lead, Orcic found his way to front on lap seven. The following lap, Fraga and Nicastro had some exchanges, Nicastro signaling the young countryman. Entering turn eight, Fraga attempted a pass on Nicastro and the two made contact. Nicastro was left on the sidelines while Fraga continued on outside the top-five. That allowed Orcic some much wanted space out front with Daniel Formal (Intrepid) slipping through to take over the second position. Behind them, a great battle for third continued with Pro Tour point leader Brett Felkins (Intrepid), Devin Lindsey (Tony Kart) and Miller in the mix.

In the end, Orcic would go unchallenged to score the victory, his first SuperNationals title, by 1.844-seconds and the $2,000 paycheck. Formal - who was making his first Vegas start, finished second. Miller muscled his way to third over Fraga with Felkins recording his first ever podium at the event. The fifth place performance locked up the Pro Tour championship for a $3,000 pay day. Lindsey was sixth over Matt Johnson (Tony Kart), up from 22nd. Louie Pagano (Birel) followed through, starting 23rd and finished eighth over Shawn Cricca (FA Kart) and Morales. TJ Koyen (Merlin) scored the GoPro Hard Charger award, driving from 39th on the grid to end up with an impressive 13th place finish.
 
S2
The S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto category contains a number of rising shifterkart stars. Among the latest is Florida’s Nick Neri. A Rotax national champion at three different levels, the Tony Kart driver made his SuperNationals debut. Sweeping the action up to SuperSunday, Neri left the grid from the P1 box. Off the line clean, Neri paced the field through the opening lap. Bit by bit, Neri stretched out his lead and increased as they battled for the second position behind him. After 20 laps, the drive to victory was impressive, scoring the SuperNats title by over five-seconds. Dutch driver Milan Dontje (Energy) started second. After falling back to third early, he retained the second position but was unable to match the pace of Neri. He would settle for second in his Vegas debut. Aside from Neri, Canadian Scott Hargrove was the quickest driver on the track. Starting 18th with a mechanical DNF in heat three, the Italkart pilot was in the top-10 by the end of the opening circuit. Lap by lap, he picked off a position until reaching third place on lap 10. Unable to catch Dontj in time, Hargrove completed a stellar drive to the third step on the podium. Capping off the top-five was Josh Lane (DR Kart), one position improved on from one year ago, and title contender Cory Milne (GP) with some great racing throughout the 20 laps.

Recovering from a pole qualifying effort, Pro Tour point leader Kyle Hathcox (GP) started sixth in the main event thanks to big runs in the three rounds. Keeping Milne and Nicky Freytag (Intrepid) within reach, he remained out of trouble and placed 10th to secure the Pro Tour championship. Mine’s results helped him move to second in the point standings, dropping Freytag to third.

KF2
All week long, the name at the top in KF2 was Teemu Suninen (Intrepid). Each and every session, the Finnish driver was the quickest on the sheets. After sweeping through the qualifying and heat rounds, Suninen led the field to the green flag with David Blom (Formula K) alongside. Untouched through the opening corners, he drove away to a dominant 4.735-second victory. Yannick de Brabander (Formula K) moved to second in the first lap but was unable to match the pace of the 2011 Winter Cup KF2 winner. Argentina’s Nicolas Maranzana (Kosmic) advanced to third, pushing Blom back to fourth with Dennis Olsen (Energy) up from 10th to fifth.

S4
Over the 15 year history of the SKUSA SuperNationals, only a select few have competed or attended the event. For Bonnier Moulton, the first event and the 15th event will be special memories. The ‘Fastest Journalist in Karting’ began this year’s stint qualifying second and followed it up with three heat wins to score the P1 starting position. He and second place starter Mike Jones (Sodi) took off from the rest of the field and showed why they are the class of the S4 field with the show they produced for the fans in the stands. Jones began the challenge, taking over the lead on lap three. Moulton returned the favor in turn three to begin what looked like a race-long battle. After more exchanges for the lead, two were side-by-side exiting turn three with Jones on the inside. Heading to the tight kink-like turn four, Jones kept his foot down on the gas pedal and kept alongside Moulton. They went through turn five with some contact and Jones came away with the position. Moulton struck back the next lap, retaking the lead. From there, Moulton put down quicker laps then Jones, extending his lead little by little. At the checkered, Moulton scored his first S4 victory, second event win to go along with his podium at the 1997 event in S1. Jones settled for the runner-up spot, matching his 2008 result. Eddie Olpin (Kosmic) backed up his second place last year with a third place performance. PP Mastro (CRG) was fourth in his class debut after strong showings previously in the G1 category with S4 rookie Jordon Musser (Birel) up from 14th to fifth.

The Pro Tour championship went to Jimmy McNeil. The CRG driver was working his way toward the front after starting sixth until contact with a barrier at the apex of corner three, bending the steering of his kart and ending his race. Despite the DNF, McNeil earned enough points to secure the #1 plate for 2012. The GoPro Hard Charger award went to former winner Chris Jennings (Birel). After coming down with food poising on Friday, he battled back Saturday to make it through the LCQ to start 38th on Sunday. Knifing his way forward, he gained 22 spots to end up 16th.

TaG Master
After relinquishing the TaG Master title to Brazilian Leonardo Nienkotter (Kosmic) last year, it appeared the title would return back to the American contingent with veterans Jim Russell Jr. (Parolin) and Robby Mott (Margay) leading the field to the green flag. The duo was joined by Nienkotter out front to begin the 20-lap battle. They began swapping positions around the lap six mark with Nienkotter pulling the trigger. That forced Russell to step up, as he worked his way back forward to the point after Mott led the first seven laps. This shuffling allowed a charging Kip Foster (Kosmic) to close in. Starting 11th, the provisional winner one year ago was into fourth by lap eight and was in the mix at the halfway point. In three consecutive laps, Foster gained a position until he was in P1 on lap 12. The two Kosmic drivers gained a gap over the Americans with Foster just too strong as he led the remaining laps to cross the line first. The results however were decided in the tech barn once again as mismatched information on Foster’s engine forced officials to remove him from the results. This gave Nienkotter his second straight SuperNationals victory. Russell would move to second, Mott third. Former two-time winner Billy Cleavelin (CRG) was quite all week until the main event, moving up to fourth with Randy Froom (Intrepid) capping off his second start in Vegas with an impressive podium run in fifth.

After a tough week, Brian McHattie (Kosmic) came through to finish sixth and clinch the Pro Tour championship. Brian McEvoy (Merlin) improved one position from last year, ending up seventh over Paul Bonilla (Arrow), last year’s Pro Tour champ Ethan Wilson (Tony Kart) and Chuck Gafrarar (Parolin).

G1
Jimmy McNeil made the G1 feature race very uneventful. From the pole position, the 2010 S4 SuperNationals champion powered away from the field and led the entire 20 laps for his second event victory. Consistent lap times allowed McNeil to pull away to a near four-second win. Behind him, 2001 G1 winner Eduardo Martins (Tony Kart) showed he still has it, driving up from fourth to runner-up for his best finish since winning 10 years ago. Penalties helped shape up the rest of the podium. Defending winner Fabrizio Nannini (Energy), Antonio Canedo (CRG) and Emilo Padron (CRG) crossed the line third through fifth. Nannini and Canedo were penalized for jumping the start while Padron was removed after post-race tech inspection. That advanced Guilherme Jacob (CRG) to third, moving Nannini and Canedo to fourth and fifth.

S5
Coming into the SuperNationals, the point title chase in the S5 Junior Stock Moto category was among the closest in the series. A win in Vegas would solidify any championship hopes for the two drivers in the hunt - Alex Tartaglia and Austin Schimmel. For Schimmel, those dreams became a reality Sunday afternoon as the Colorado driver scored his first SuperNats win and earned the Pro Tour championship.

Starting from the pole position, Schimmel (GP) was shuffled back to second by top qualifier Miguel Lopez (GP). Schimmel kept to his rear bumper until lap 10 when he retook the lead. At the same time, fellow Colorado driver Ryan Rudolph (CRG) was charging forward after working around Italian Alessio Piccini (Tony Kart) for third. Closing lap by lap on the top-two, Rudolph took over the second position on lap 14. Running down Schimmel with the fast laps of the race, Rudolph made one last effort heading to the checkered, coming up just 0.072-seconds short. His efforts put him to third in the final Pro Tour standings. Tartaglia advanced from ninth to finish fourth with Piccini capping off the podium.

TaG Junior
The word to describe the TaG Junior main event was heartbreak. American Austin Self (Arrow) swept his heat races to score the pole position for the SuperNationals main event with a host of international stars lined up behind him. Holding the point through the opening laps, a train of eight karts made up the early lead pack until contact on lap five allowed Self and CIK-FIA KF3 European Champion George Russell (Intrepid) to break away. Each took their turn at the point, keeping their distance from the fight for third and setting up what could be a photo finish after 20 laps. Trouble struck on lap 13 for Self as his exhaust system failed and was left dragging off his rear bumper, ending his race and chance at the victory. This allowed Russell to cruise the remaining laps and score the win by nearly two-seconds. Connor Jupp (Energy) and Bruna Tomaselli (Kosmic) held their starting positions, finishing second and third. Thiago Vivacqua (Energy) came from 22nd to fourth, edging out American top finisher Austin Dement (DR Kart).

The hard chargers of the race were Joel Jens and Ashely Rogero. The two Tony Kart drivers transferred from the Last Chance Qualifier, knifing their way to end up sixth and seventh. Rogero grabbed the fast lap of the race and the GoPro Hard Charger award, advancing the most positions of any driver. Canadian Lance Stroll (Zanardi) was eighth with CIK-FIA U18 World Champion Mattnew Graham (Zanardi) ninth and last year’s winner Joao Viera (Tony Kart) tenth.

TaG Cadet
A pattern has formed in the first two years of the TaG Cadet category at the SKUSA SuperNationals. Last year, Patricio O’Ward was the top American finisher at the Rok Cup International Final a month before winning the SuperNationals. This year, Logan Sargeant was the feature winner at the event in Italy last month and return to the states to score victory in Vegas. With two heat wins, Sargeant (Tony Kart) led the Cadet field to the green flag. Getting away clean, Sargeant built up a lead over the opening laps of the 15-lap race until it all disappeared on lap five. An incident in turn three involving a handful of drivers brought out the red flag. After attending to the injured driver, the drivers were given a green-white-checkered to decide the results. Sargeant led the train of karts remaining to a second green flag. Unchallenged, Sargeant went on score the victory. O’Ward (Tony Kart) emerged from the battle to earn second.

Canadian Grant Quinlan (Birel) crossed the line third but was moved down the order for a penalty on track during the last lap, involving Jake Drew (CRG). That advanced Anthony Gangi Jr. (CRG) to third, Emerson Reed (Merlin) to fourth and Zane Smith (Top Kart) rounding out the podium. Despite not recording the finish he desired in Vegas (36th), Colton Herta (DR Kart) defended his Pro Tour championship, earning another ticket to the Rok Cup International Finals in 2012. EKN Trackside: SKUSA SuperNationals XV - Sunday Report