Series championship leaders ready to fight for titles in Las Vegas; international talent abounds in Sin City.
For the second year, the newly formed US Open series will conclude in high style at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, located just off the famous Las Vegas Strip. Met with rave reviews in 2015, the series finale will feature the same 12-turn, .72-mile temporary circuit and host international talent in seven Rotax MAX Challenge classes and two Shifter categories. Four Rotax race winners in Las Vegas will be rewarded with 2017 Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals tickets, while championships will be decided in all nine classes.
With a progressive point structure, increasing approximately 33% each round and no drop races allowed, stakes will be high for the current championship leaders heading into the series finale while international drivers from 14 countries will be vying for ultimate glory at the Rio this week.
In the AM Engines Rotax Micro MAX class, Diego LaRoque will be on everyone’s radar, as he comes off his Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals Micro MAX victory in Italy just two weeks ago. Entering as the US Open championship points leader and the reigning champ, LaRoque will need to best championship rivals Josh Pierson and Santiago Trisini. LaRoque scored the win in round one in NOLA and Trisini topping the blocks in Utah, leaving Pierson hungry for a final win in 2016 US Open action. Young James Egozi also had a phenomenal performance in Italy with Team USA, and will certainly be looking to continue his efforts to close out the Rotax season in the US.
Noticeably absent from the PSL Karting Rotax Mini MAX division is current point leader Tyler Gonzalez. Moving up to the Junior ranks for the final race on the US Open schedule. Gonzalez thus leaves the door open for Jak Crawford who sits second in the point standings. The Mini MAX class will also see a host of international talent, including several Canadians, Australian Angus Giffin and Belgian Thomas Martens.
The largest class at the 2016 US Open finale, Koene USA Rotax Junior MAX, will see Nick Brueckner fight for the championship title once the final checkered flag flies. Electing to not run the Rio event in 2015, Brueckner will need to quickly come to grips of the temporary circuit to hold off the likes of Ryan MacDermid, Dylan Tavella and Hannah Greenemeier. The Junior class also features international competitors from all over the world, including Australia, Mexico, Chile and Venezuela.
Another championship point leader will not be on the grid in Las Vegas, as Rolison Performance Group Rotax Senior MAX two-time winner and reigning US Open Senior MAX Champion Oliver Askew is currently in England for the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy as part of the Team USA Scholarship program. This will likely leave the championship in the hands of BC’s Kellen Ritter or Utah’s Walker Hess. Several top American pilots are on the entry list for Vegas, including Ryan Norberg, who recently was named to the Mazda Road to Indy (MRTI) Driver Advancement Program, Dan Roeper and David Malukas. Seven countries will be represented in the Senior MAX class alone, adding to the international flair of the 2016 season finale.
With points leader Jeff Kinglsey bowing out of the Las Vegas event, Dev Gore, Lawson Nagel and Michael McCarthy will be battling it out for the Dallas Karting Complex Rotax DD2 MAX title. Second in the points, Gore was also named to the MRTI program with Norberg, and will need to hold off the likes of Swedish duo Andreas and Jessica Backman and Mercedes DTM pilot Robert Wickens, who is back to better his third place podium results from 2015. France, United Kingdom, Colombia, Costa Rica and Argentina will also be represented in the DD2 category.
Nathan Mauel enters the final round as the Dallas Karting Complex Rotax DD2 MAX Masters points leader. Running his first year in the over-32 category, Mauel will be up against the likes of championship rivals Luis Zervigon and Joseph Licciardi, while 2007 Rotax Grand Finals champion Christophe Adams of Belgium will be gunning for the race win at the Rio.
Two-time race winner and current Falcone GP Rotax MAX Masters points leader Billy Cleavelin will look to make it a perfect run and claim the title in 2016. His closest championship rivals will not be in Vegas, putting France’s Jeremie Charon and Texan David Pergande in contention for the championship podium. 10
In Energy Kart USA Shifter Senior, the title will come down to top karting talents Nick Neri and Sabré Cook. While both will certainly be gunning for the feature win, Troy Diede and Jake French will add to the mix in Vegas and make things interesting to say the least.
Reigning Vega Tires Shifter Masters champion Ryan Kinnear will be looking to repeat in Las Vegas this week, and make it three-for-three in main event victories. Kinnear will need to hold off last year’s Shifter Veteran champ Jet Davis and Hugh Templeman, who currently sits third in the points.
The 2016 Sofina Foods US Open Presented by Fikse Wheels series finale will take place November 2-5 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. MAXSpeed Entertainment is featuring a live broadcast of the event, with coverage starting at 12pm PDT on Thursday, November 3. Tune in to http://bit.ly/1mDVTsQ to catch all of the action from Las Vegas.