Canadians racked up three race wins and an additional podium result in the opening round of the 2021 Challenge of the Americas presented by Royce and Baxter as Italian Motors duo Remo Ruscitti and Michael Valiante controlled the ROK Shifter divisions in Phoenix, Arizona.
In a talented 20-kart ROK Shifter Senior field, Ruscitti was able to sweep the weekend’s competitive sessions, earning two Pole-Positions, two PreFinal wins and two dominant Final wins.
Saturday’s race was a challenge of tire management as the gritty Phoenix Kart Racing Association circuit took its toll on the new LeVanto Tires. Ruscitti was pressured throughout the entire Final but never surrendered the lead en route to the win.
It was a much different Final on Sunday. With rain lingering and a mist causing all kinds of challenges, Ruscitti was able to build up a large gap to his competitors. With two laps to go, the rain finally began to fall and Ruscitti did his best to manage the final lap to stay on track and complete the weekend sweep.
Marking his return to kart racing on the weekend was legend Michael Valiante. He suited up for competition in ROK Shifter Masters and while admitting to fatigue during the longer sessions, Valiante held on for the Saturday victory. He slipped back to second place just after the halfway mark but capitalized on his opportunity to regain the top spot and didn’t look back from there.
Unfortunately on Sunday Valiante had to withdraw from his pole position for the final with an injury, but nonetheless showed he can still throw down and has mentioned to CKN he will be back.
In total there were five Canadians competing in the Challenge opener.
Alex Chartier showed great pace and race craft throughout the weekend, but the Finals weren’t his friend. He was forced to retire on Saturday with eight laps remaining and on Sunday, after leading the first half of the Final and eventually finishing in third, lost his result in the scale house, rolling across just underweight. Continuing to gain experience, Chartier will find the podium in 2021.
Making his debut in ROK Shifter, Ryan Martin and CRG machine found out what it’s like to race with the big boys. He scored a thirteenth place finish on Saturday and was racing inside the top-ten of the Sunday Final until he collided with another driver with only a handful of laps remaining. Holding on through the falling rain of the final two laps and a number of retirees, Martin was ranked twelfth at the finish line.
Finally, Uncle Jimmy Gregory competed in 100cc Masters this weekend and along with his good friend Fred Causer, enjoyed their weekend of competition that led to a sixth and seventh place results.
Round two of the Challenge of the Americas presented by Royce and Baxter heads to CalSpeed Karting in Fontana, California in February. Karts will tackle the semi-permanent parking lot circuit next to Auto Club Speedway on February 26-27-28. Registration is open on http://challengekarting.com with more info about the series available on their website.