Inaugural Event a Huge Success for Championship Karting International CKI Grand Prix of New Castle presented by Bridgestone Delivers Top Prizes, Competition and Entertainment Phoenix, AZ (June 2, 2009) -- The Championship Karting ...
Inaugural Event a Huge Success for Championship Karting International
CKI Grand Prix of New Castle presented by Bridgestone Delivers Top Prizes, Competition and Entertainment
Phoenix, AZ (June 2, 2009) -- The Championship Karting International national series went live this weekend, arriving on the national kart racing scene with a resounding victory. With high expectations and buzz throughout the karting community setting the tone, the CKI Grand Prix of New Castle presented by Bridgestone delivered an extremely competitive, highly entertaining weekend of racing. Both dominating performances and heart-stopping finishes ruled the day, highlighted by Gary Carlton's (CRG) clean sweep in the KZ2 class, Mason Marotta's (Intrepid) checkered flag thriller in IAME Seniors and PCR factory driver Simo Puhakka's war of attrition to take home the winner's $3,500 check in the KF2 final.
With $27,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs and perfect weather for racing, the CKI series hosted a field of over 100 competitors including six European entries at New Castle. Off the track highlights included a Formula BMW Licensing Course raffle -- won by IAME Jr. pilot Mark Pellegrini, a two engine raffle sponsored by Italian Motors and the unveiling of an exchange program between CKI and Formula Kart Stars that will jet six American competitors 'across the pond' for a taste of Euro-style racing. The WKA-sanctioned event also debuted on SpeedcastTV.com and RaceFanRadio.com as the first-ever live video webcast kart event with 'network TV-type' production.
"CKI has completed the first step - getting our inaugural race in the books. Now, we'll turn our attention to further developing the competitor base, strengthening ties with European Series, and broadening manufacturer alliances," states Series Co-founder Phil DeLaO. "CKI's mission is to provide the most open, competitive kart racing series in North America, training the next generations of racers for careers in Motorsports, focused on driving, mechanical aptitude, and business and promotional acumen."
SSC East KZ2
In the SSC East KZ2 class, Gary Carlton had all the answers. In the pre-final, he and Alex Speed (Tony Kart) quickly separated from the field, going virtually unchallenged with Carlton winning by a six second margin. Gregory Liefooghe (Intrepid) took third by 5 car lengths and Cole Mathewson (CRG) prevailed over Alex Manglass (CRG) for 4th.
In the feature, Carlton and Speed went side-by-side into the first corner, with Carlton winning the battle, Speed hitting the dirt and falling to the back of the pack. With Carlton pulling away to lock up the victory by over 15 seconds to earn $3,500, Speed battled all the way back to take second and $2,000 prize. The final podium spot was up for grabs, with Leifooghe taking home $1,500 by out-dueling Manglass (4th); Don McGregor (ItalKart) finishing 5th.
The KF2 class put on a great show in both of Sunday's contests. In the pre-final, Finnish pilot Simo Puhakka and Arie Ouimet (SSC East) battled with Alex Speed, Chris Wehrheim (Top Kart) and Richard Benitez (Kosmic) -- the drivers shuffling the top five spots like a deck of cards for most of the race. In the end, Ouimet would pull away on lap 12 to win, Puhakka taking second over Wehrheim (3rd).
In the $7,000 final, Puhakka found his groove, leading flag-to-flag and winning the $3,500 prize. Ouimet locked up 2nd after many quality laps of racing with Wehrheim, Benitez and Speed. Wehrheim grabbed 3rd, Benitez fourth with Jeremy Nelson (Kosmic) overtaking a fading Speed for 5th.
Italian Motorsports IAME Senior
After a clean sweep in qualifying, IAME Senior Michael Hogg (Top Kart) carried his momentum into the pre-final, slipping past outside pole sitter Marc Dismore, Sr. (Arrow) at the green flag and controlling the race from start to finish. The 2nd and 3rd positions kept the crowd on its toes with Marotta and Alberico (Top Kart) fighting all the way; Morotta taking it at the finish.
With $6,000 up for grabs, the feature event won't soon be forgotten as a wild finish left the SpeedcastTV and RaceFanRadio webcast team nearly speechless. When the Green flag fell, racing two and three karts wide on the track ensued. Hogg jumped to the front of the pack, closely followed nose-to-tail by Alberico, Marotta, McCoy, Eric Jones (Arrow) and Kyle Weigand (Top Kart). A back and forth battle at the top developed as John Zartarian (Tony Kart), Dismore, David Jurca (ItalKart), CJ Litner (Arrow) and Joe Patterson (TonyKart) joined in the fun. With the laps winding down, Hogg faded while McCoy and Marotta engaged in a thrilling top spot skirmish. In the last lap's final turn the two racers tied up, spinning off track -- when the dust settled Marotta slid sideways across the line to claim victory, with Joe Patterson weaving through for 2nd and Dismore jumping to 3rd. McCoy, stalled at the finish line, landed the 4th spot, Jurca in 5th ahead of Alberico and Hogg.
J3 Competition KF3
The KF3 class featured another round of strong competition as Tristan DeGrand (Kosmic) sped into the lead at the start of the pre-final, with pole sitter Phil DeLaO, Jr. (CRG), Sennan Fielding (CRG), Taylor Miinch (Top Kart) and Shawn Sharkey (Merlin) applying the pressure. DeGrand stayed on top for the victory, DeLaO would hold tight in 2nd and Miinch close behind took 3rd, Sharkey blew an engine and Macaulay Walsh (Birel) and Madeline Komar (Maranello) ended up 4th and 5th.
The 18-lap final featured both close racing and heated competition. DeLaO overtook DeGrand for the lead on the first lap, with the two pilots distancing themselves from the pack for a classic one-on-one battle. Miinch, Walsh and Fielding locked into a battle for the top five placing. With times getting faster by the lap, DeGrand wrestled the top spot from DeLaO; and Miinch, Fielding and Walsh keeping it close for podium places. In the end DeGrand prevailed, DeLaO DQ'd with an engine spec issue, landing Miinch the 2nd spot, Fielding moving up to 3rd, Walsh getting 4th and Sharkey, from the back of the pack, grabbing a top 5.
Russell Karting Specialties IAME Junior
The racing was tight in the IAME Jr. pre-final with a lead pack of six or seven karters vying for top spots from the start. From the pole position Taylor Miinch worked into the lead with Sharkey, Raquel Martinez (Top Kart), DeLaO, Tyler Thomas (Top Kart) and Trent Hindman (Merlin) driving hard for top results. Thomas faded after some contact, Miinch pulled away -- staging a great show for 2nd and 3rd. At finish line, Miinch prevailed by 2 seconds over Hindman, with Martinez in 3rd and Sharkey and DeLaO 4th and 5th, respectively.
Early in the feature race, Miinch and Sharkey went at it hard for the 1st and 2nd spots, pulling away early from the field, Camden Geise (CRG) rode a steady third place, while Thomas and Beasley fought it out for 4th place. The drama turned up when Miinch blew a header on lap 10, Sharkey took the lead while Thomas, Geise and Mark Pelligrini (CRG), from the middle of the field, battled for the podium. At the checkered flag, Sharkey would claim victory all alone as Thomas edged Geise for 2nd, Sam Beasley (Arrow) and Pellegrini rounding out the top 5.
Kartel Motorsports Cadet
All weekend long the Cadet class showcased great competition and some of the best drama on the track -- the pre-final held true to form, with as many as eight karts in the lead group for most of the race and through countless lead changes. George Russell (Top Kart) took an early lead, with Josh Saurino (Top Kart), along with several others, taking the lead in the middle stages, as Santino, Ferrucci (Top Kart), Austin Schoonmaker (Merlin) and Gresham Wagner (Birel) kept near the top. In the end, Britain's Russell would prevail with Schoonmaker taking second, Saurino third and Ferrucci and Wagner 4th and 5th.
With no let up in the final, Russell jumped into the lead from the start, as Schoonmaker, Saurino, Ferrucci and Wagner kept on his tail. As the race unfolded Russell, Schoonmaker and Saurino would trade the lead back and forth. Set up 3-wide into the final corner, Schoonmaker took the win over the savvy Brit Russell (2nd) and Saurino settled for 3rd. Wagner and Ashley Rogero (Kosmic) rounded out the top 5.
Grand Marshall Alan Rudolph, who piloted the sleek BMW pace car before each race, had this perspective on the race: "These kids just put on one of the best shows ever. With the big straight away, race strategy -- especially drafting -- played a huge role in the outcomes. Hat's off to CKI for pulling together such a great event."
"On behalf of the entire CKI team, I'd like to thank everyone who made this event a success -- from our sponsors, to the track operations, the race teams and the countless volunteers. The competition was great and momentum keeps building for the series. We look forward to seeing everyone at New Jersey Motorsports Park on June 29 for the next big event," comments CKI Director Kevin Williams.
Championship Karting International is launching a WKA-sanctioned 4-event season in 2009. The first race, the CKI Grand Prix of New Castle, presented by Bridgestone, was held on May 29-31 with a $27,000 purse of cash and prizes across six competition classes. In addition to the kick-off at New Castle Motorsports Park, New Castle, IN, CKI will hold races at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Millville, NJ, June 26 -- 29; a race in August (dates and location to be announced); and a race October 9 -- 11 (location to be announced).