The 17th annual Sofina Foods United States Rotax MAX Challenge (USRMC) Grand Nationals Presented by Fikse Wheels gets underway today at the picturesque Simraceway Performance Karting Center in Sonoma, California. Top American Rotax pilots are set to fight for 2016 US Rotax National titles, and for the first time ever, all seven Rotax MAX Challenge classes will also be vying for Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals tickets.
“Bringing the US Grand Nationals to the West Coast is was a priority for us in 2016,” explains MAXSpeed Entertainment’s Andrew Campbell. “The Simraceway facility is incredible and the track is challenging and technical; a perfect host for our Grand Nationals. We will add eight drivers to Team USA for the Grand Finals, and I can’t wait to see what names will rise to the occasion here in Wine Country.”
In AM Engines Rotax Micro MAX, current US Open Micro MAX points leader Diego LaRoque is certain to be one to watch in the competitive category. LaRoque has already secured his RMCGF invite, so the pressure is off for him to focus on the championship title. 2015 US Micro MAX Vice-Champion Ashton Torgerson will look to move up one step on the podium this year, while Josh Pierson has also been hot in 2016 racing action. Santiago Trisini, coming off his breakout with in Utah, will look to continue his momentum while in Sonoma.
PSL Karting Rotax Mini MAX will see Jak Crawford looking to add to his National Championship title from 2015 in Micro MAX. The hot shoe also placed third in last year’s event in Mini, as the Texan pilot pulled double duty. Reigning National Vice-champion Arias Deukmedjian will also be one to watch in the Mini ranks. With Crawford and Deukmedjian in the hunt for the US Open title, they will also need to hold off current leader Tyler Gonzalez in Sonoma, who has already been named to Team USA. Jeremy Fairbairn is also one to keep on the radar, with Mini pilots always putting on a great show during wheel-to-wheel action. Mini MAX is sure to be ultra-competitive, as the top two final finishers will be going to Italy with Team USA later this year.
In the Koene USA Rotax Junior MAX class, 2015’s Mini MAX Champion, Nicholas d’Orlando, has moved up to the Junior ranks and will need to hold off a hoard of top competitors, including his brother Michael, who earned the Mini MAX title in 2013. Michael is certain to be strong, as 2016 successes saw him earn the Florida Winter Tour championship and Grand Finals invite. Nick Brueckner can never be ruled out for the win, as the current US Open Junior MAX points leader has already punched his ticket to Italy with his Challenge of the Americas championship. Mathias Ramirez also holds a RMCGF ticket, and will be looking to top the blocks in Sonoma. Other names to watch include Dylan Tavella, Aidan Keel, Zoey Edenholm and Hannah Greenemeier in this stacked field of Rotax talent.
Oliver Askew will be the favorite in Rolison Performance Group Rotax Senior MAX action. Currently leading the US Open Senior MAX standings, the versatile driver claimed the DD2 title in the Florida Winter Tour earlier in the year. A disappointing eighth place result in the 2015 Grand Nationals certainly has Askew looking for more this year. 2015 National Vice-Champion Matt Solarczyk is hungry for a Grand National title and a return to Team USA. Other names to watch include Walker Hess, Max Hewitt, Enzo Prevost and Kyle Loh.
In Dallas Karting Complex Rotax DD2 MAX, Dev Gore will be in the hunt for the National title. Already named to Team USA, Gove will need to hold off the likes of Michael McCarthy and Christian Munoz to come out on top in California. Ticket in hand, Nathan Mauel will be able to focus on the DD2 MAX Masters title. Moving up to the Masters class in 2016, Mauel was on the DD2 podium in 2015 and leads the current US Open points. Luis Zervigon is right there, second in points to Mauel. Zervigon was Vice-Champion in 2015, and is certain to fight to the end to become Grand National champion.
Falcone GP Rotax MAX Masters will see a bevy of talent in Sonoma Valley. Only one has secured a place on Team USA, Billy Cleavelin, as the California resident is the current US Open points leader. Veteran Team USA member Derek Wang is sure to be hot at Simraceway, as is reigning Masters MAX National champion Scott Roberts. Pete Fritsche was also on the podium in 2015 and will look to top the blocks in 2016.
Unofficial is on the schedule for today, with official on track action commencing tomorrow morning followed by qualifying and Super Pole qualifying tomorrow afternoon. Friday features three heat races, which will set the prefinal grids for Saturday. Everything will then come down to Saturday afternoon’s finals, which will crown the 2016 United States Rotax Grand National Champions. The full event schedule is available for download HERE. More information on the 2016 Sofina Foods United States Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Nationals can be found atwww.MAXSpeedEntertainment.com.