Gatorz Champions crowned in the rain in Sonoma

March 22, 2011 (Orange, Calif.) – It just wouldn’t be the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas without a little bit of rain to make the Canadians feel more welcome. However, there aren’t many people that would describe the rain that befell the final weekend of the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California over the weekend as a ‘little bit of rain’.

However, even with a lake in the ‘Tic Tac Toe’ section of the National configuration of the kart track at online pharmacy Infineon Raceway forming, nothing was going to stop the one hundred drivers of the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas from battling for their trips to the Rotax Grand Nationals and Rotax Grand Finals. The event, while soggy, would provide an exciting conclusion for all classes in what has been the most successful season yet of the Gatorz Challenge of the Americas.


Rolison Performance Group DD-2 / Arrow Karts DD-2

Nicholas Latifi looked set to clinch his DD-2 class championship after four straight wins, even though Derek Wang put a chink in his armor by taking pole position in qualifying. Latifi took the pre-main, and led the field at the start of the main. He began to put distance on Wang in second place, and his fifth win of the season seemed to be a few easy laps away – until he suffered gearbox failure on the thirteenth lap of the race, sidelining his kart. Wang then took the point and ran alone to the checkered, recording his first win of the season. Second overall was the winner of DD-2 Masters, Andre Ericksen, with Matt Ostiguy third overall.

One Racegear Rotax Masters

The main focus in the Rotax Masters race was the close championship battle between Bill Kann and Scott Falcone, as the two entered the Sonoma weekend separated by a scant few points. However, it was local driver Donald Durbin, Jr. and Arie Luyendyk who would act as spoilers as they mixed it up with Kann and Falcone throughout the day.

Durbin lined up for the Final first with Kann in second, but it was Falcone who got the drop on the field at the start. From the moment he took the lead, he was untouchable, and pulled away from the field in the heavy downpour. Durbin, Jr. gave chase while Kann and Luyendyk battled for the final podium spot throughout the race.

But Falcone’s pace was relentless – he lapped up to fifth place in the field – and he handily took the victory with Durbin, Jr. in second.  Kann eventually passed Luyendyk for good to finish third, which meant the Masters class championship wouldn’t be settled until Sunday’s race was run.

Tony Kart West Rotax Senior

It was another monster field for Rotax Senior as thirty-five karts answered the bell in Sonoma. Leading the charge into the first turn was Bryce Choquer, with Tyler Wheeler off-pole and Chris Glover in third. However, it was fourth-starting Kiel Spaulding who was on the move at the start of the race as he jumped up to second on the opening lap and took the lead on the third lap. From that point he simply took off as a huge battle raged behind between Choquer, David Sera, T.J. Fischer, Tyler Wheeler, and Daniel Burkett. Points leader Felipe Fraga had a difficult day, suffering a DNF in the pre-main and unable to move up any higher in the main than 17th.

The battle went on throughout the race but Spaulding was in total control – until the last lap, when he spun off course. Fischer, running second at the time, inherited the lead and took the surprise victory, with Wheeler right behind him in second and Jorge Cevallos in third.

Overdrive Karting Junior Rotax

Artie Carpenter and Brody Zink led the field down the front straight at the start, but it was Skylar Dunning who took the lead from Carpenter after the first lap and put on a driving clinic for the rest of the field.  While he set sail – almost literally in the rain – the battle for the rest of the podium was heating up as Dakota Dickerson and points leader Parker Thompson were moving forward through the field.

Dunning simply put on a driving clinic while Dickerson was able to move past Marco Eakins for second in the final stages. When the checkered fell, Dunning had a comfortable gap and took the win with Dickerson in second and Eakins in third. Thompson would finish fourth, his first non-podium in the season, but his result was good enough to secure him the Junior Rotax championship and a trip to the Rotax Grand Finals.

Holeshot Race Products Minimax

Sting Ray Robb and Scott Huffaker led a large Minimax field into the first turn at the start of the main, while points leader Scott Wick and his closes pursuer, Royal McKee were stuck in the middle of the pack.

From the start, Robb was untouchable, and he began to pull away from the rest of the field. Robb dominated the fourteen lap race until the tenth lap, when he was blackflagged after his rear bumper came detached from his kart. The attention then focused on the new leader, Huffaker, who had Kami Moreira-Laliberte giving chase. However, a mistake never came, and Huffaker took the win with Moreira-Laliberte in second and Garrett Gulenchyn in third.

In the championship battle, McKee took a chunk out of Wick’s lead as his eighth place was ahead of Wick’s thirteenth.

Apollo Motorsports Micromax

Cody Dempster led the field at the start and quickly began to pull away from the field. As he did, all eyes were on Hannah Greenmeier, who worked her way past Conner Wick and Griffin Dowler. Although she  came close, she ran out of time to challenge for the lead, and Dempster took the win with Greemeier in second and Wick in third.


Rolison Performance Group DD-2 / Arrow Karts DD-2

After his troubles on Saturday, Latifi looked to finish the season with his fifth win to seal his championship and his trip to the Rotax Grand Finals. Leading the field at the start, Latifi made a mistake in the ‘Tic Tac Toe’ complex on the opening lap, spinning off track and giving the lead to Wang.

Thanks to that mistake, Wang led the field from start to finish, taking his second win of the weekend. Latifi recovered and would finish second, but that was more than good enough to secure his DD-2 class championship. Ericksen again won DD-2 Masters, and January Grove would take that class championship after six races.

One Racegear Rotax Masters

Durbin, Jr. led John Crow and championship contender Bill Kann to the green flag in the main while the other championship contender, Scott Falcone, was mired down in eleventh. Crow hit trouble early, slowing over the first lap and retiring quickly after that, and Durbin, Jr. was suddenly without a challenger at the front of the field. Falcone was able to make a great start, jumping up to third after two laps while Kann fell down to sixth.

The difficult conditions probably contributed to Falcone going off track on the fourth lap, falling down the order. Things got worse for Falcone, however, as he went off course again when his tire rod became disconnected from the spindle of his kart. In full championship mode, however, Falcone fixed his kart on the side of the track and jumped back into the race, despite having lost a lap.

While all this was going on, however, Durbin, Jr. cruised home to take the win with Arie Luyendyk finishing second and Brian Robson taking his first podium of the season in third. Kann would finish the race in eighth, but Falcone’s points for ninth narrowly earned him the Rotax Masters class championship.

Tony Kart West Rotax Senior

The final Rotax Senior race of the season was action packed from the beginning as Tyler Wheeler led David Sera, Stepanova Nekeel, and thirty-two other karts to the start. Championship leader Felipe Fraga started in eighth place, behind his closest pursuer – Nekeel – but still within striking distance of his championship.

Wheeler led the first several laps but had Sera putting some serious pressure on him for the lead, which he finally took on the sixth lap. Once clear of the field, Sera was untouchable and he pulled away from Wheeler. T.J. Fischer and Chris Glover both passed Nekeel for third and forth, moving him to fifth, while Fraga was right behind in sixth but did not know that he was to be given a two position penalty for rough driving.

In the end, however, it would make little difference as Sera handily took the race win with Wheeler in second and Fischer in third. With Nekeel finishing fifth and Fraga reclassified in eighth, it was still enough for the Brazilian to take the Rotax Senior class championship and a trip to the Rotax Grand Finals.

Overdrive Karting Junior Rotax

Champion-elect Parker Thompson and Brody Zink led the field to the start of the Junior Rotax final, which lost fifth-starting Matthew Moniz even before the green flag flew. Zink drove around Thompson at the start and nobody would see him again as he clearly had the wet conditions figured out better than anyone else. Thompson stayed close but appeared to not want to push the issue too much, with his championship locked up, but he still had the pace to stay clear of the rest of the field.

After the opening lap excitement, the race would be fairly uneventful as Zink pulled away throughout the race to eventually take the win by nearly four seconds. Thompson would cap his championship with a run to second place, while Jake Craig ran alone to finish in third place.

Holeshot Race Products Minimax

With the rain falling much harder for the start of the Minmax race, Royal McKee led Michael Avansino, Kyle Wick, and Giafranco Mazzaferro into the first corner. Wick jumped up to second at the start to challenge McKee with Avansino in third, but the three would run in that order throughout the entire race. Unable to pass McKee, Wick and Avansino waited for a mistake that never came, while behind them, Kami Moreira-Laliberte and Mazzaferro, battled for fourth.

After fourteen laps, McKee took the checkered flag with Wick right behind in second and Avansino in third.McKee’s win in the premain as well as the main would complete his come from behind run to win the Minimax class championship and a trip to the Rotax Grand Nationals.

Apollo Motorsports Micromax

The final race of the season saw Griffin Dowler jump out to the lead ahead of Cody Dempster, Hannah Greenmeier and Conner Wick. Dempster took the lead on the second lap but went off the track two laps later, allowing Greenmeier into the lead with Wick right behind in second. The two battled for several laps but Greenmeier was able to pull away to a substantial lead.

Behind, Dowler went off course a few times and Dempster was charging hard. With only two laps remaining, he passed Wick for second place. He would run out of time to make a run at the lead, and with the crowd cheering, Greemeier took the win with almost ten seconds in hand over Dempster. However, Dempster was placed behind Wick in the final standings, so Wick was awarded second with Dempster third.

The result, however, was good enough for Dempster to earn the Micromax class championship.

The 2011 Gatorz Challenge of the Americas Champions

Tony Kart West Rotax Senior – Felipe Fraga
Overdrive Karting Junior Rotax – Parker Thompson
Rolison Performance Group DD-2 – Nicholas Latifi
Arrow Karts DD-2 Masters – January Grove
One Racegear Rotax Masters – Scott Falcone
Holeshot Race Products Minimax – Royal McKee
Apollo Motorsports Micromax – Cody Dempster