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Rotax Pan-Am Challenge Event Recap

OGP drivers prove they are among the world's best. (

OGP drivers prove they are among the world’s best. (

Ocala Gran Prix is one of the world’s elite teams

OGP has been recognized as one of the top Rotax teams in North America over the past few years, but this past weekend they truly asserted themselves as one of the worlds best. Strawberry Racing, almost thought of as the Tony Kart Junior team of sorts is a Rotax mega team and they brought over their big guns including World Champ Charlie Eastwood, Euro Max Junior champ Guan Yu Zhou, and third place Jai Nijjar. While all three drivers took their time at the point throughout the weekend, OGP took top honors in both categories with Oliver Askew and Ashley Rogero (yes she was Dq’d, but by her own omission).

Money doesn’t guarantee success, as we have seen throughout the years. OGP sure has plenty of it, but their success is mainly due to one of the best team atmospheres in the sport. Oh, it also doesn’t hurt to have the likes of Mike Speed, Alex Speed, and Gary Carlton leading your program.

Zach Claman-Demelo launching over the curbs in the chicane. (

Zach Claman-Demelo launching over the curbs in the chicane. (

Curb your enthusiasm

There is no doubt that NOLA Motorsports Park is one of the top karting facilities in North America with one of the best crews to go a long with it, but the track that has been chosen for a World Championship event is a bit mickey mouse. Brand-new karts that first hit the track Wednesday afternoon are now nearly scrap metal; either because the bottom of the frames are flat or because the relentless jumping of curbs have bent them to no return. The curbs were also very hard on the body. We saw Oliver Askew icing his ribs after his win and Jules Cousin with a massive bruise on his hips.

Word is that the track will be shaving down the chicane curbs in turns seven and eight, but that still leaves the massive curb in the second to last turn that possibly does most of the damage to the karts. The track did lend itself to some great racing with up to seven legit passing zones. Not sure I would want to buy one of the World Finals karts after the event in one moths time.

Ashley Rogero continues to prove she is one of the best kart drivers in the country. (

Ashley Rogero continues to prove she is one of the best kart drivers in the country. (

Rogero leaves tech to give World Finals ticket to teammate Kirkwood

The whole “who gets a ticket if someone wins who already has a ticket situation” was a bit confusing this past weekend. In some cases it would go to the driver finishing second at the Pan-Am race, in others it would go to a driver finishing as low as fourth at the US Rotax Nationals. With many drivers at the front already having tickets it made it very interesting who would be next in line as the lead changed in multiple categories.

This is a team sport and one cannot fault Rogero for doing what she did to help a teammate. With that being said how do you feel if you are Ryan Norberg, the driver that would be getting the ticket if Rogero did not refuse tech? Would you feel robbed? This is a difficult call and one can probably see both sides. Hopefully this event will make Rotax think about getting a ticket for your national team much simpler.

(Photo: PSL Karting)

(Photo: PSL Karting)

CRG proves you don’t need an OTK kart to run up front in Junior and Senior Max

CRG debuted their new Blackstar this past weekend in the hands on Jordan Lennox-Lamb, while Pedro Cardoso and Thomas Preining used the 2013 RS28. Jordan may not have won a heat, but he spent plenty of time at the front and turned very quick lap times. Who knows what could have been if he did not have that one DNF in the second heat. Lennox was able to finish in fourth in the final, but lost a lot of time in the beginning of the race when he and Neri got a bit racy on the opening lap. Both Cardoso and Preining spent time leading and Preining won his third heat. With over 50% of the fields in both junior and senior on OTK products and the number seeming to grow, Rotax needs another kart or two to prove they can win to continue their growth as a series.

(L-to-R) Xen De Ruwe, Danny Formal, Pier Luc Ouellette. (

(L-to-R) Xen De Ruwe, Danny Formal, Pier Luc Ouellette. (

Formal is a machine

Look out for Danny Formal this November, as he very well may be North America’s best chance at a World Championship this year. Was arguably the best DD2 driver in the world missing? Yes, Ben Cooper broke his hand and was unable to compete, but Danny did absolutely put a beating on multi time world champ Pier Luc Ouellette and top DD2 drivers such as Xen De Ruwe, Joey Wimsett, Ferenc Kancsar, Kevin Ludi, Fritz Leesmann, and Andreas Backman. Danny looked completely in control the entire weekend, and did we mention he doesn’t run for a big team? Him and his father tune both the kart and the engine themselves.

Tavella shows maturity

We usually do not spend much time talking about Micro Max, but young Dylan Tavella deserves a shout out for his poise and maturity after being disqualified after qualifying inspections. He was able to work his way up in all three heats to get a 12th place starting position for the prefinal where he finished third. This third place finish allowed him to get the start he needed to break away from the pack with Harry Coulton to put on a fantastic display of race craft and take home the win.