MANDARINO SET TO BEGIN KARTING PROGRAM
SuperNationals winners ready to ride momentum into new season
NORMAN, OK -- It's been four months since Canadian Lorenzo Mandarino stood on the top step of the SuperPro podium at the SKUSA SuperNationals last November, but the excitement and pride is still burning inside the 19 year-old driver. Mandarino's primary focus for the 2006 karting season will be the Snap-on Stars of Karting Championship, which will begin this coming weekend at the Oklahoma Motorsports Complex in Norman. Running in both headline classes -- ICC and ICA -- this young pilot will be in for a long weekend, although he relishes the opportunity.
"I just want to race as much as I can, so this is going to be fun," commented Mandarino in regards to his upcoming double-duty effort. "I haven't been in an ICA for about a year, so it's going to be tough running back and forth between the two karts. However, I also haven't had the opportunity to test at Norman this year like my competition has, so the extra track time is going to be very important. With the karts being so different, I won't be able to gain much in chassis set-up, so the track time will be the only real advantage that I could get from running the two classes."
This opening event is the Race of the Americas, where the Eastern and Western Division drivers will run head-to-head. In the ICC category, which Mandarino will run in the Stars Western Division, he will be pitted under the KLS Racing tent running the new GP8 chassis with TM 125cc engines prepared by George Barks. This duo last teamed up at the SKUSA SuperNationals, where Mandarino came away the ultimate victor. The Canadian has already tested his new 125cc package and his looking forward to measuring his performance against what looks likely to be a grid of 80+ entries.
In the East, it will be all direct drive for the young star, as he will begin a new relationship with Marc Zartarian, one of the sport's finest engine builders and tuners. Racing out of Zartarian's High-Rev Engineering compound, Lorenzo will again utilize the new GP8, which will be motivated by a Zartarian-built Vortex 100cc powerplant. This is a new pairing that could do some serious damage in 2006.
It will be interesting to see how Mandarino handles working with two separate racing operations in his quest to begin the season with a pair of race wins.
In addition to his national program, Mandarino will also head across the Atlantic Ocean for a total of nine events in '06. Running with the GP factory as an official team pilot in ICC, the Canadian will compete in the five-race Italian Open Masters series. This program will get underway on the weekend immediately following the Stars of Karting opener, as the Open Masters series begins on March 25-26 in La Conca, Italy. Lorenzo will also make his first attempt at the ultra-competitive European Championship series in the tough Super ICC class, the world's top level for gearbox karting. To cap his international season, Mandarino will also enter the World Championship event in Italy in October.