This weekend marks the final chance for drivers from around the world to qualify for the 2013 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, held this year in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. The Rotax Pan American Challenge will invade NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans with this weekends event being held on the same circuit and configuration as the Grand Finals.
Attracting drivers from around the world; some already qualified and testing for next months Grand Finals, some still seeking their ticket, the Rotax Pan American Challenge is sure to be exciting this weekend and a handful of Canadians have made their way south to join the action. As of the conclusion of the pre-entry, 23 different countries will represented in New Orleans.
Canadians have been pretty successful at the Pan American Challenge in years past, as in 2011 Canada swept all seven tickets up for grabs when the event was held in New Castle, Indiana, while in 2012 in Centennial, Colorado only a few Canadians were in attendance, but still showed plenty of pace.
CKN will be trackside for this weekends event in New Orleans, with our coverage beginning on Friday October 11 with Qualifying. Saturday will feature an array of heat races before Sunday’s Prefinals and Pan American Championship Finals.
This week we will see the largest DD2 field North America has seen all year, as 21 drivers are entered in Rotax’s premier division. Like Rotax Junior and Senior, there is a wide array of countries represented and massive list of accomplished drivers competing. Notably, defending Grand Finals Champion Ben Cooper was listed to race, but a hand injury has him on the sidelines this weekend with plans to return at the Grand Finals and seek his fourth Rotax title.
From Canada, four drivers will represent the maple leaf in New Orleans. Canadian Champion Pier-Luc Ouellette (PSL Karting/CRG) leads the way as he looks to prepare himself for another Grand Finals title run. He is joined under the PSL Karting banner by Alessandro Bizzotto who has made great strides in the second half of 2013. Another pair of teammates make up the second half as Brendon Bain and Fred Woodley fly under Trevor Wickens Prime/Maranello banner. Bain has qualified for Team Canada via the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship, while Woodley is still looking to secure his ticket.
Our four drivers will have their hands full as international drivers such as Xen de Ruwe from Belgium, Andreas Backman or Sweden, and Kevin Ludi of Switzerland are entered. South African and defending Grand Finals DD2 Masters Champion Christiano Morgado has moved to DD2 this weekend as he prepares for a bid at his fourth Grand Finals title while Americans Joey Wimsett, Daniel Formal and Gavin Reichelt will all be looking to keep the Pan Am title on US soil.
With Rotax DD2 being on a CRG chassis for the Grand Finals, there is already quite a few drivers on the black brand with the potential for more this weekend.
Rotax DD2 Masters
It is great to see twenty Rotax DD2 Masters on the registration list for this weekend. While the class features quite a few American’s, there is also a handful of international talents making up the grid in New Orleans.
A pair of Canadians are entered in DD2 Masters and both have already secured their ticket to next months Grand Finals. Canadian and ECKC Champion Stuart Clark (Prime/Maranello) is looking to add to his impressive 2013 trophy shelf while Francis Mondou is using this opportunity to accustom himself to the Praga kart he will be racing next weekend. Clark has also mentioned he may take the opportunity to test the Praga this weekend.
A couple notable entries include Christophe Adams of Belgium, a multi-time Grand Finalist. American Scott Falcone recently spent some time working with Ben Cooper at the Jim Russell Karting Academy, and that makes him even more of a threat. Derek Wang also cannot be left out of our mentions and there should be some great racing this weekend from the Masters.