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Supernationals

EKN Trackside: Superkarts! USA SuperNationals 26 – SuperSunday Report
Wednesday, 15 November 2023 12:14

Danny Formal led the Pro Shifter field toward the sunset on SuperSunday to claim victory (Photo: EKN)

It is a continuing theme every year at the Superkarts! USA SuperNationals in Las Vegas, and once again, no one could have written the script for this year’s SuperSunday. The 26th edition of the world’s largest karting event wrapped up outside the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the SuperSunday action hosting the nine main events. Four days of practice, qualifying and heat races set the stage for the over 500 entries in attendance from around the world. The competition level was high, and the action was hot all day long with nine winners declared as the sun set on Las Vegas.

The event began with the opening ceremonies with the driver parade, national anthem, and the famous words from EKN’s own Rob Howden – ‘It’s time for SuperSunday!’ One of the segments was the induction of new members to the Superkarts! USA Hall of Fame that was stablished in 2016. Joining the list of members are Stephan St. Charles and Dominic Labrecque from PSL Karting along with driver/industry member Gary Carlton.

Formal joins the 4-time winner club (Photo: EKN)

One of the most impressive performances in SuperNationals history came at the end of SuperSunday in the Pro Shifter presented by PSL Karting. Former SKUSA Pro Tour champion AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA) and top qualifier Jacob Gulick (GFC Karting) filled out the front row for the 41 drivers taking the green flag for the 25-lap main event. Myers jumped out to the lead with the holeshot with Gulick second and three-time SuperNationals winner Danny Formal (RPG / Kosmic) up from fifth to third. Fourth-place starter Emilien Denner (Sodi Racing USA) was spun backwards at the apex of the opening corner and driven over, sending the rest of the field scrambling around. Myers led for the first eight laps but was getting pressured hard by Gulick and Formal. It was Formal who was able to get around at lap nine, and from there began to power away. Formal continued increasing his lead with near fast laps of the race, establishing a near three second lead by the end of the race to claim his fourth SuperNationals triumph. He now joins Connor De Phillippi, Billy Musgrave and Kip Foster as the only four-time winners. Two-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Marijn Kremers (PSL / Birel ART) slipped from third on the grid to seventh by the end of the opening lap. He climbed his way forward to the second spot but was unable to cut into the advantage Formal had built by that time. It became his fourth time in six starts to finish runner-up. Myers and Gulick fell back into the grasp of 2021 winner Matteo Vigano (PSL / Charles Leclerc). Gulick retired on lap 16 following contact and Vigano eventually took over the third position from Myers. Canadian Remo Ruscitti (Catalyst / Italkart) put in his best performance in the headline shifter category, starting sixth and moving up to the fifth spot on the podium. Former SKUSA Pro Tour champion Kyle Wick (GFC Karting) was the biggest mover into the top-10, coming up from 20th to sixth. Last year’s winner Pedro Hiltbrand (PSL / Birel ART) advanced 10 spots to eighth behind Daniel Vasile (IM USA / Italkart) and ahead of four-time winner Billy Musgrave (Factory Karts). Jay Urwin (PSL / Birel ART) gained 13 positions to round out the top-10.

Donovan Bonilla becomes the 20th different winner with X30 Senior triumph (Photo: EKN)

With five different heat winners heading into the Final for the X30 Senior presented by Rolison Performance Group, there was no way to predict what would unfold in the 25-lap main event. Oliver Hodgson (J3 / CompKart) and Alessandro de Tullio (InterMS / Kart Republic) led the field to the green flag. Starting fifth was Donovan Bonilla (RPG / Kosmic) – one of the five different heat winners. He joined the fight up front with P3 starter and top qualifier Austin Garrison (SCR / Redspeed). Hodgson led the first five laps as de Tullio began slipping down the order. Bonilla took over the point on lap six, bringing Hayden Jones (RPG / Kosmic) with him. Each took a turn at the lead before Bonilla established himself as the leader. That triggered a busy fight for the second spot, allowing Bonilla to gain a strong gap over the rest of the field. This also allowed a charging Ryan Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) – the only former winner in the field – to close in on the second pack after starting 18th. Bonilla went on to establish a lead of over three seconds by the checkered flag, scoring his first SuperNationals triumph and become the 19th different winner of the TaG Senior / X30 Senior race group. The fight for second went down to the wire as a pair of Florida drivers fought for the spot, with Norberg gaining the spot at the line over Garrison. Ariel Elkin (Racelab / TB Kart) advanced eight spots to finish fourth to claim a second straight podium result with British driver Harley Keeble (Sodi Racing USA) picking up a fifth-place result in his SuperNationals debut. Jones slipped back to sixth after leading at one point, while de Tullio finished seventh. Nicholas Terlecki (Hotz / OTK) gained 15 positions in 25 laps to finish eighth, with Chase Hand (GFC Karting) up 11 to finish ninth. Jorge Ortiz (CDR / Alonso Kart) completed the top-10.

Ernesto Rivera held off the field to claim victory in KA100 Senior (Photo: EKN)

At the end of the heat races, Senior rookie Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic) established himself as one of the top contenders in the KA100 Senior class presented by RLV. Rivera won his final two heats to be able to land the pole position for the 20-lap Final. He led the first eight laps before P2 starter Chase Jones (MPG / Kart Republic) and 2019 winner Pauly Massimino (BJR / LN Racing Kart) – who started sixth – worked past Rivera for the top spot. Massimino was Jones wingman, helping to push them away from the P3 fight happening behind him that dropped Rivera back to fifth behind 2021 winner Brandon Lemke (FMS / Gillard) and Race Liberante (MPG / Kart Republic). Rivera eventually worked his way back into the third spot and ran down the top two alone. One by one, he passed Massimino and Rivera to take the lead with two laps remaining. He went fully defensive, which allowed the group behind to close up, making it at least nine drivers fighting for position on the last lap. The defensive line worked, as Rivera held on to the lead to the checkered flag to record his second career SuperNationals victory, pairing it with his X30 Junior triumph last year. Jones fought back to second after slipping to fifth on the final lap with Massimino grabbing third. Lemke crossed the line fourth, improving eight spots from his grid position while Jesus Vasquez Jr. (Nash / EOS) came across the line fifth, but suffered a three-second penalty to drop him to 10th. Oliver Calvo (SCR / Redspeed) was promoted to fifth to match his previous best SuperNationals result from 2016 in X30 Junior. Frankie Mossman (MDR / LN Racing Kart) was would have been sixth, but a six-second pushback bumper penalty dropped him out of the top-10. This moved Collin Lloyd (InterMS / Kart Republic) to sixth and Alexander Kardashian (AMK / EOS) to seventh. Fernando Luque (Supertune / Tony Kart) was handed a pushback bumper penalty, promoting Nate Cicero (RPG / Kosmic) while Last Chance Qualifier winner Oliver Hodgson (J3 / CompKart) crossed the line 12th, but moved up to ninth to make it 25 positions gained over the 20-lap race as the hard charger.

Turner Brown was named winner in KA100 Junior after a reversal of a pushback bumper penalty (Photo: EKN)

Turner Brown (SCR / Redspeed) made history, becoming the third driver to win twice in the same SuperNationals. The first came in the KA100 Junior by Evinco Tires – the first class to roll out for a main event at SuperNationals 26. Brown started from the pole position as one of two drivers to win twice in the heat races. The other was Sebastian Garzon (Orsolon / Tony Kart) starting on the outside of the front row. It was a three driver fight for much of the race with Keagan Kaminski (GFC Karting) joining them after starting P5. Garzon and Kaminski took turns leading while Brown sat in third. He began his advancement on lap 12 and was into the lead at the end of lap 13. He led until just before the white flag when Garzon took back the position and Brown was sitting third. As they made their way to the final corner on the last lap. Kaminski made a move for the lead, but a yellow flag was waving. He completed the pass but pushed wide and Garzon slipped back underneath as they exited the turn. With a wide entry into the corner, Brown was able to go over-under, diving on the inside of both on a three-wide run to the finish line. At the line, it was Brown by 83 thousandths of a second over Garzon with Kaminski in third. Officials handed Brown a pushback bumper penalty, thus giving Garzon the win during the post-race podium ceremony. However, it was overturned, and Brown was declared the winner. Kaminiski, along with five others, were penalized 10 seconds for passing under yellow. This dropped him to ninth in the final order. Diego Ardiles (RPG / Kosmic) was promoted to third with Oliver Wheldon (JC / LN Racing Kart) and Steven Miller (Nash / EOS) the official top-five. Nixx Eggleston (Ruthless / Exprit) was fourth at the line but penalized for a pushback, ending up eighth behind Mason Walter (BJR / LN Racing Kart) and Chase Buscaglia (BJR / LN Racing Kart) – who was the hard charger by advancing 19 positions to seventh. Charlie Smith (Nash / EOS) completed the top-10.

A move from fourth to first put Turner Brown on top of the podium in X30 Junior (Photo: EKN)

Brown started third in the X30 Junior class presented by SpeedLab Racing Engines. It was one spot over after Enzo Vidmontiene – who was slated to start third in both Junior classes, was removed from the event following an off the track situation prior to the start of Sunday’s action. Brown joined pole sitter Brodie Yendle (RPG / Kosmic), Diego Ardiles (RPG / Kosmic) and Sacha Van’t Pad Bosch (Racelab / TB Kart) at the front of the field. Ardiles led the majority of the race with Yendle second and Brown back in fourth. It was Van’t Pad Bosch that was the aggressor of the group once the three laps to go single was given. He made a bold move into turn three, attempting to make a double pass. He slammed the curbing on the inside, pushing himself along with Ardiles and Yendle wide. This allowed Brown to go from fourth to first. Brown held onto the lead through the final two laps, with a near perfect final circuit to go unchallenged at the line for his second victory of the event. Van’t Pod Bosch came across the line in second but was given a three-second penalty for scrubbing tires that knocked him down to fourth. That would have promoted Yendle to second, however, he was removed following post-race engine inspection. This all promoted Ardiles to the runner-up position and Oliver Wheldon (JC / LN Racing Kart) to the third spot – up 13 positions in total with fast lap of the race. Nixx Eggleston (Ruthless / Exprit) ended up capping off the top-five ahead of Steven Miller (Nash / EOS), Jackson Wolny (SCR / Redspeed), Charlie Smith (Nash / EOS), Alexander Jacoby (URace / Tony Kart) and Augustus Toniolo (RPG / Kosmic).

Italian Davide Fore added a Master Shifter victory at the SuperNationals to his illustrious career (Photo: EKN)

The only winner to come from outside the top-10 at SuperNationals 26 was in the Master Shifter class presented by Peterson Wealth Management. Five-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion Jordon Musser (PSL / Birel ART) took advantage of his two heat race wins to start from the pole position and grab the holeshot. Lap by lap in the early stages, he was able to pull out to a comfortable lead as they fought for second place behind him. On the charge however was top qualifier and multi-time world champion Davide Fore (IM USA / Italkart). A DNS in the second heat race put him down to 12th in the grid for the main event. He was up to seventh by the opening lap in eventually second place by the end of lap eight. That is when he began cutting into the near three-second lead Musser had established. With nearly three tenths a lap better on the lap times, Fore eliminate that deficit and was to the bumper of Musser by lap 16. Three laps remaining, Fore made his move in the last corner of the lap, securing the lead. Everyone expected Musser to mount a counter-attack, however, it would never come as Fore drove away to his first SuperNationals victory by over half a second. Musser settled for second, matching his best SuperNationals result for a third time in 12 class starts. Brian Keck (GFC Karting) held his position in third with outside front row started Robert Bujdoso (Magik Kart USA) dropping to fourth in his first class start. Defending winner Antonio Pizzonia Jr. (Orsolon / Birel ART) would end up fifth ahead of Vincent Cossard (RWR / CRG). Scott Presti (RS Kart) was up seven spots to seventh ahead of Antoine Hilligot (Sodi Racing USA) while former SuperNationals winner John Crow (Factory Karts) and Victor Jimenez (RPG / Tony Kart) completed the top-10.

Aussie Matthew Waters scores KA100 Master victory in his SuperNationals debut (Photo: EKN)

The second running of the KA100 Master class presented by InterMS at the SuperNationals welcomed another first-time winner. Two-time SuperNationals winner Ben Cooper (RPG / Kosmic) led the field to the green flag thanks to two heat race wins as top qualifier Laurentiu Mardan (Tecno Kart USA) sat on the outside. They were joined at the front of the field by Franco Crivelli (InterMS / Kart Republic) and Aussie Matthew Waters (RPG / Kosmic). Cooper led the majority of the race with Crivelli taking a turn in the early laps. As they took the white flag, Crivelli led going into the first corner with Cooper making a move to the inside. They pushed wide and Waters took advantage, going from third to first. He held through the final corners to be able to cross the line first to earn his first SuperNationals triumph. Cooper settled for second while Mardan crossed the line in third. The top qualifier was not able to make it through post-race tech, removed from the results for not having a weight secured with two nuts. That would have moved Crivelli to third but he was penalized three seconds for an on-track penalty, dropping him to fifth in the order. This advanced four-time SKUSA SuperNationals winner Kip Foster (PSL / Birel ART) to third and advanced KC Cook (RPM / Tony Kart) fourth as the lone USA driver on the podium. Jesse Gwin (GFC Karting) ended up sixth over Niki Coello (FMS / Merlin). Bobby Kelley (MMK / Redspeed) was eighth ahead of Miguel Mier (Orsolon / Tony Kart) with defending race winner Martin Stone (REM / Kosmic) placing 10th.

Rookie Mini Swift driver Royce Vega claimed the victory on SuperSunday (Photo: EKN)

There was not telling who was going to come out as the winner in the Mini Swift class presented by Trinity Karting Group / Kart Republic. Royce Vega (Team Benik) used consistency over the heat races to put himself on the pole position with teammate Troy Ferguson (Team Benik) alongside on the front row. Ferguson fell down to seventh early but fought his way forward to the lead by lap seven after Vega and defending race winner Michael McGaughy (RPM / Parolin) each led. It seemed everyone wanted to lead after that with Noah Baglin (Trinity / DAP), Ferguson, McGaughy, and Vega all taking turns with a group of about 12 drivers together until Baglin assumed control on lap 15 with McGaughy and Vega helping to push away from the rest. It went down to the wire with the top three together as Baglin ran a defensive line to the very end. McGaughy followed him through the final corner but undercut him on the exit. This allowed Vega to take the normal entry and carried the momentum to slingshot inside of both drivers. Vega would win the race to the checkered flag, securing his first SuperNationals victory. McGaughy settled for second with Baglin in third. Max Cristea (Trinity / Kart Republic) recorded the fast lap of the race, finishing fourth as SKUSA Pro Tour champion Lucas Palacio (Trinity / Kart Republic) advanced nine positions to end up fifth. Ilie Tristan Crisan (RPG / Kosmic), Alessandro Truchot (Parolin USA), Travis Pettit (Trinity / Kart Republic), Marco Romero (Team Benik) and Tristan Murphy (RPM / Nitro Kart) capped off a strong top-10 roster.

Maxwell Macha held on to claim victory in Micro Swift (Photo: EKN)

The youngest category at the SuperNationals – Micro Swift presented by Sodi Racing USA – made its seventh appearance at the event. The 45-driver field was led to the green flag by three-time heat race winner Parker Ives (RPM / Nitro Kart). He was joined at the front by SKUSA Pro Tour champion Maxwell Macha (Sodi Racing USA) along with teammates Pasha Ali and Josh Bergman. Macha led the charge, taking over the lead on the opening lap as Ives fell back to third. Once back into the lead on lap four, the duo continued to exchange the lead several times with Bergman and Ali waiting in the wings. Macha held the lead at the white flag with Ives losing the second spot to Bergman early. That was all Macha needed as he took the checkered flag by nearly a half second for the victory. Ali was a close fourth while Juan Diego Garciarce (Orsolon / Parolin) completed the podium. He beat out Kiwi Iver Spence (Parolin USA) while Tony Cachafeiro (PSL / Birel ART) held back Aidan Go (SpeedSense / Exprit) – who gained 11 spots to eighth. Cameron Johnson (FMS / Merlin) and hard charger Mikha Barroukh (Parolin USA) completed the top-10. Barroukh advanced 19 positions in the 20-lap race.

The SKUSA SuperNationals 26 is now complete. What began with unknown of what the racetrack would offer, and the high speeds established early in the practice sessions outside the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there were zero red flags thrown in the races and the ambulance was never called for service once. That says a lot about the patience and respect of the near 500 drivers displayed in the 39 heat races and nine main events. History is now written, and for the many who were unable to etch their names into the books, it will be another 11 months before redemption came be sought at what we hope will be another safe and dramatic SKUSA SuperNationals.