MENEZES WINS TWICE IN CHAMPIONSHIP KARTING INTERNATIONAL DEBUT Californian returns from Europe to score victories in KF3 and IAME Junior divisions FONTANA, CA (August 9, 2009) -- It was a near perfect weekend for Gustavo Menezes in his return to...
MENEZES WINS TWICE IN CHAMPIONSHIP KARTING INTERNATIONAL DEBUT
Californian returns from Europe to score victories in KF3 and IAME Junior divisions
FONTANA, CA (August 9, 2009) -- It was a near perfect weekend for Gustavo Menezes in his return to the elite karting scene in America as the 14-year old scored two main event victories at the Championship Karting International Grand Prix of California at the CalSpeed Karting facility. Familiar with the 3/4-mile circuit in Southern California, Menezes was at the top of the running order all weekend long in both the KF3 and IAME Junior divisions. The two wins came in the California's debut with the newly created national series in a one-off event with the Tony Kart West organization based out of Phoenix, Arizona.
The event began with unofficial practice on Thursday with Menezes near the top on the time charts. Following more practice Friday morning, qualifying took place in the afternoon with Menezes posting the fast lap in both the KF3 and IAME Junior sessions. The KF3 group came first as Menezes posted a 46.145 lap to secure the pole position for the heat races by over a tenth of a second. He matched the same performance in the IAME Junior run, posting a 46.074 lap time that was roughly two-tenths quicker than his closets competitor.
Saturday was a busy day with six heat races in total at nine laps a piece however with the extra strength and conditioning Menezes has been concentrating on off-track, the day would go by smooth. The opening heat race in the KF3 division did not start out in Menezes favor as he was spun around in the first corner after receiving the green flag to begin the race. Dropping to the tail of the field, Menezes kept his head down and never gave up, posting the fast laps of the race to place sixth in the run. The next two were flag-to-flag wins for Gustavo has he recorded the victories along with fast lap honors, earning the P1 grid position for the Prefinal. Things went just as smooth in the IAME Junior races as Menezes would lead all 27 laps of the three heat races. Gustavo went on to score all three wins to place himself on the pole position for the Prefinal.
Menezes would just get better on Sunday in the KF3 class as he was untouchable in the Prefinal and Final, leading both races green to checkered. After leading all 14-laps of the Prefinal for a two-second victory, Menezes paced the field for the 19 laps of the main event to win by nearly seven seconds while recording the fast laps of the race in the process.
An uncharacteristic slow start cost him two spots at the drop of the green for the IAME Junior Prefinal however Gustavo was quick to regain one of the spots before the completion of the first lap. Not in the lead for the first time all weekend did not faze the Tony Kart Junior Racing Team driver as he went on the charge toward the leader. Lap five was Menezes striking point as he was able to slide underneath the leader and assume the lead. From there, he posted the fast laps of the race to edge out for the win.
The feature race however saw Menezes put back into the second row after the outside pole driver would not work with him to pace the field correctly. Once the race began, Menezes began his charge forward. Once on the bumper of the leader, Menezes bought his time and pulled the trigger on lap 14 to take over the number one spot through turn 10. Despite running the fast laps, he was unable to shake off his rival as they received the one lap to go signal. As the entered the final corner, Menezes went deep into the braking zone as did his rival who ducked inside at the apex. The two exited the corner side by side and Menezes was moved toward the inside of the track. He fought back, not giving up his ground until nearly making contact with a barrier marking the track. As they crossed the line locked up, Menezes was just half a kart length short of the victory however officials penalized the provisional winner for his actions, thus handing the victory to Gustavo.
"This had to be one of my best performances yet of my career," stated Menezes during the post-race interviews. "My Tony Kart/Vortex package in the KF3 division was consistently fast all weekend long and it showed on-track. We were able to match that in our Tony Kart IAME package however we had to overcome a few obstacles in quest of the win. I have to thank my mechanic Seth Nash and the entire Tony Kart West operation for their support throughout the weekend and the fast packages they provide for our two win effort."
Menezes will spend the next few weeks enjoying the summer weather at home as before he begins to prepare for the CIK-FIA KF3 World Cup event in Sarno, Italy on September 3-6.