HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 1, 2018) - A hot and sunny weekend welcomed racers back to the AMR Homestead-Miami Motorplex presented by MG Tires in late February for the 2018 Karting Challenge kickoff. 7 run groups featuring 10 total classes offered fantastic racing action throughout the day, featuring a couple of new winners and the biggest single class turnout to date.
TaG MINI OVER BEFORE IT COULD BEGIN
Out of the four front-runners from the opening round, only two were able to get onto the grid in the second stop of the 2018 championship. Max Garcia, who finished third in Round 1, suffered a broken collarbone along with series of cuts and bruises in a horrendous practice crash while testing on Saturday, March 24th. Miguel Costa was the other pilot unable to make it to the circuit, as a scheduling conflict found Costa out on the ski slopes rather than the racetrack.
The remainder of the four geared up to take full advantage. Jakub Kolar struck first by snagging his second pole award on the season. However, Jimmie Lockhart would link up with Kolar in the Pre Final to open up a fantastic battle in the closing laps. A minor slip-up from Kolar entering the braking zone in Turn 5 opened the door for Lockhart to cross him over and take the win, punching his ticket to a P1 starting spot in the Final.
The duo were set for another last lap duel in the main event until a red flag came out with four laps to go after Luke Welcome and Caleb Duenas tangled, flipping Welcome up and over. Both drivers were okay, but due to the red flag coming out after the halfway point, the Final was cut short and Lockhart was declared the winner. Jimmie's first ever victory featured Kolar in second and Leonardo Hassan rounding out the podium in third.
WELCOME TO THE world of briggs OSCAR GERTNER, ashton chilton
Oscar Gertner made his AMR Motorplex Karting Challenge debut this past Saturday, placing a solid 2nd place in his first ever qualifying session behind TB Kart's Rocco Pasquarella. Pasquarella was the driver from Round 1 who came out on the worst end of the turn 1 crash in the combined LO206 Junior / Cadet main event. Rocco returned in full force for Round 2.
Unfortunately, a poor opening lap in the Pre Final for Pasquarella sent the young driver to the tail end of the field. Gertner took full advantage to slide into the lead. Pasquarella's comeback charge in the Final brought him all the way to the rear bumper of Gertner at the flag, but he was just one lap too short. Oscar's debut ended with him on the top step of the podium, joined by Pasquarella in second and Collin Lloyd in third.
Meanwhile, LO206 Junior had its biggest showing yet, with newcomers Alejandro Ramirez, Ashton Chilton, and William Lowther all hitting the ground running in the relatively new division. Ramirez's outright pace pulled off a stunner in qualifying, with a 0.3+ gap on the field. Chilton and Lowther remained in touch with the young driver throughout the day, with Chilton using some calculated racecraft to take the Pre Final.
In the Final, Ramirez would find himself facing backwards in the carousel on Lap 3, ending his chances at matching Gertner's feat of an debut win. Chilton improved his own pace from the heat race, pulling away from Lowther and scoring the victory.
ISAMBARD'S REVENGE IN TAG JUNIor
After winning everything but the main event in Round 1, Alan Isambard put in more than his fair share of laps at the AMR Motorplex to prepare for a second try at victory in the TaG Junior division. He bested the field by nearly half a second in qualifying, and Alan went on to complete his sweep with a dominating performance in the Pre Final and Final. Ashton Chilton joined him on the podium in second with Samuel Benner snagging third.
"my ribs are fine, doc!" - ricky lehman
LO206 Senior may have decreased from 28 to 27 drivers at Round 2, but the competition level was significantly steeper. In the first four laps of the Pre Final, more than a dozen lead changes took place with nine drivers running nose-to-tail in the lead group. Along with top finishers from Round 1 such as Michel Garrido, and Elvis Faria, Round 2 featured the likes of Jordan Perry, Ben Cruttenden, Juan Villaraga, LO206 Expert Hunter Fox, and more.
After escaping the early fighting of the heat race, Perry and Garrido hooked up to pull a gap on the field. The distance was shortlived, though, as Arenas and Fox both began to creep back up on the leaders. Perry would hold on to the top spot in the end of his duel with Garrido, but the quick time of the race did not go to either one of the top two. Fastest on the racetrack honors went to RYSA Racing's Ricky Lehman, who actually crossed the line in seventh.
In the Final, a slightly calmer start set the tone. However, at the mid-way point, the battle was on. Juan Arenas took his Exprit to the front early, with Jordan Perry and Hunter Fox in toe. With four laps to go, Lehman found himself without a drafting partner attempting to hunt down the leading trio. Luckily, the shuffling ensured quickly, eventually bringing not only Lehman but Jack Copeland, Michel Garrido, Jorge Sarrabia, and Elvis Faria into the mix.
With a lap and a half to go, Juan Arenas held the lead and was defending into Turn 5. As the cluster of karts came into the braking zone, chaos followed, with only Lehman, Perry, and Copeland coming out unscathed. Going from fourth to first, Lehman appeared to be in the clear with a four kart length gap at the white flag. Perry did not give up, though, and fought tooth and nail to multiple pass attempts on the BirelART driver. Coming to the stripe, Perry found himself on top of the seat of Lehman's kart, coming up 0.045 short in the closest and wackiest race to date at AMR Motorplex. This was Lehman's return to the seat following a rib injury that he suffered at the SKUSA Winter Series in January, with possibly the most spectacular return possible. Jack Copeland was able to join the duo on the podium to finish third.
JC Karting's Salvatore Rodriguez took first in TaG Micro, with Matteo Franco-Ruggiero in second. Meanwhile, Vincent Kupinski took the win in Shifter with Andre Duek coming out on top in TaG Master. Jordan Pulice was able to also pull off a perfect day in TaG Senior, sweeping all official sessions and coming out on top over Round 1 winner Jason Angles and Brandon Simeone.
Up next is Round 3 of the AMR Motorplex Karting Challenge by MG on Sunday, May 20.
For more information on the Karting Challenge club series, CLICK HERE>>