It was a very hot day for Qualifying at the US Open Karting Championship as racers converged on the Utah Motorsports Campus for the second stop of the series with temperatures approaching the 100-degree mark. Aside from the racing, it’s a unique atmosphere in the paddock this weekend at UMC as the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship is also competing, utilizing the full circuit, with both karting and bike race teams sharing the paddock space and garages.
After plenty of practice time, Friday set the tone for the weekend of racing as official qualifying took place in the afternoon, setting the grids for the first of four rounds of heat races.
It’s a very small group of drivers in Rotax Senior this weekend as only ten entries make up the category. Oregon’s Luke Selliken was a last minute entry and he made the most of the qualifying session, topping the charts and posting a time a mere 0.03 seconds quicker than NOLA race winner Oliver Askew. Kellen Ritter and Austin Garrison were third and fourth, separated by only 0.013 seconds. Notably, Trenton Estep is absent this weekend, surrendering second in the championship race and moving the focus for the Rotax Grand Finals ticket down to Ritter and Garrison, as Askew is already qualified.
The front four in Rotax Micro-Max were separated by only a tenth of a second in their Qualifying session. Carson Morgan worked closely with New Orleans winner Diego Laroque in the timed session and he was able to top the charts over Josh Pierson by 0.059 seconds. Laroque was next 0.074 back of the polesitter with Branyon Tiner fourth, 0.103 seconds back. From there it was a big gap to fifth as James Egozi and Alex Powell were the other only drivers within a second of the fastest time.
Next up on the order was Rotax Junior, the largest category of the weekend. With 29 karts entered, it’s close completion on track where Manuel Sulaiman put down a serious flyer to earn the pole-position by 0.165 seconds. Ryan MacDermid was second, followed by Hannah Greenemeier and Zoey Edenholm, with the three only 0.012 seconds apart. Aidan Keel rounded out the top five while championship leader Nick Brueckner was ninth as the top-12 are covered by less then four-tenths of a second.
It doesn’t appear that Canadian Jeff Kingsley will have any competition issues this weekend as he was more than half a second quicker than his closest competitor in Rotax DD2 qualifying. His closest rival was Alessandro Bizzotto, who is making his US Open season debut, with Dev Gore and Michael McCarthy chasing in third and fourth. Nathan Mauel was the fastest of the DD2 Masters, ranking fifth overall for the New Orleans winner.
Jak Crawford blistered off his best lap of the session on his opening lap to secure the pole-position in Rotax Mini-Max. Jeremy Fairbairn and New Orleans winner Tyler Gonzalez were within two-tenths of Crawford with Joey Brienza and Aidan Fox rounding out the top-five.
Travelling over from France for his US Open debut, Jeremie Charon just edged out Mike Rolison for the pole-position in Rotax Max Masters. The gap was only 0.029 seconds with Championship leader Billy Cleavelin third, only 0.084 seconds off.
Like round one in New Orleans, the two Shifter categories are competing together this weekend and it was newcomer Kyle Kirkwood who is showing the way. Tyler Bennett and Nick Neri were close in qualifying to rank second and third with Sabre Cook and Alex Yates rounding out the top-five. Ryan Kinnear was the quickest of the Shifter Masters, ranking ninth overall.
Friday also featured the first round of heat races for all categories with three more heats scheduled for Saturday. The starting grids for each heat are progressive meaning drivers will need to be careful no to jeopardize their remaining heats while keeping their final points tally in mind too, which will set the grids for Sundays Final races.