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2015 Rotax MAX Team USA Preview

This is the roster that USA will send to the Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal in 2015

As drivers begin their quest to become champions at the 2015 Rotax Grand Nationals this weekend in South Carolina, we’re going to get you up to date on who has made the roster for Team USA thus far, set to compete at The International Karting Circuit of Portimao in Algarve, Portugal, November 8 to 14, 2015. After the weekend, we will have seven new team members join this list and we’ll be updating this page at that time.

Senior MAX

Kyle Kirkwood

Kyle Kirkwood

How he qualified: Florida Winter Tour Champion

It was a solid winter season for the young Floridian who, despite only picking up one feature win, claimed the title in the heavily contested Senior MAX category. It came down to the final weekend between he and Oliver Askew, but a solid set of heat races was the deciding factor in the points outcome.

After the Winter Tour, Kyle and his OGP brethren have seldom traveled outside of their home state of Florida to race, but instead focusing on local and regional programs to better their game. This is Kyle’s second trip to the Grand Finals, and first as a Senior after earning pole position as a Junior in 2013 when the United States hosted the event.

Oliver Askew

Oliver Askew
Photo Credit: Kart360.com

How he qualified: US Open points leader

After falling one position short in the Florida Winter Tour -- which saw Askew aboard his new BirelART ride for the first time -- the factory PSL Karting/BirelART Rotax pilot had his sights set on the newly formed US Open series. Leaving the opening round in Dallas in a three way tie for the points lead, Askew had to make his mark in round two in Colorado to claim his ticket. What was a close points race coming in, was anything but after they left. Askew swept everything that weekend to lay claim to his fifth Rotax Grand Finals ticket.

Luke Selliken

Luke Selliken
Luke Selliken
Photo Credit: Cody Schindel / CKN

How he qualified: Challenge of the Americas Champion

In what was an incredibly tight championship, Luke Selliken came out on top in a tense final round of the 2015 Rotax Challenge of the Americas in Sonoma, CA. Needing to better Christian Brooks, Selliken picked up a pair of runner up finishes compared to Brooks’ pair of thirds, and that was what he needed to get back to another Grand Finals.

Focusing on a regional stock car drive this summer, Selliken has only had an on-again off-again Can-Am Karting schedule to prepare himself for the Grand Finals. This not being his first ‘rodeo’, the Northwesterner will be ready under the tutelage of Mike Rolison at RPG.

DD2

Sabre Cook

Sabre Cook
Sabre Cook
Photo Credit: Cody Schindel / CKN

How she qualified: Challenge of the Americas Champion

A highly debated occurrence in March of this year was the event that gave Sabre Cook her first chance at the Rotax Grand Finals. On the final day of the Rotax Challenge of the Americas, a race official call over on-track contact gave Cook the win over Michael Ilavia. It is a topic that has long since burned out and Cook is focused on Portugal, running a BirelART at the Grand Nationals to prepare herself for the conditions that await her.

Nick Neri

Nick Neri
Photo Credit: Kart360.com

How he qualified: Florida Winter Tour vice champion

In an unprecedented level of skill at the opening round of the Florida Winter Tour, Nick Neri competed against the best competition the DD2 category has arguably ever seen. Back in January, factory pilots from Sodi Kart, CRG, Birel, and Intrepid descended on Homestead Karting for an all out battle. Neri was all business, scoring a Pre-Final win and runner up in the Final. The newly appointed Andersen Racing/BirelART driver grabbed two more podiums throughout the championship, placing him second in the final tally. Fellow BirelART driver Jordon Lennox earned the Championship, but due to other obligations gave his Grand Finals ticket to Neri, as he now goes to Rotax’s biggest event for the fifth time.

Junior MAX

Sting Ray Robb

Sting Ray Robb and Trenton Estep battle on track
Sting Ray Robb
Photo Credit: Kart360.com

How he qualified: Challenge of the Americas Champion

Sting Ray Robb has had the privilege of accepting a Grand Finals ticket at multiple venues this season (CoTA and FWT), but because Challenge of the America’s was his first ticket, he must accept that offer over his others. A back and forth battle ensued in the Southwest between Robb and Nick Brueckner this last winter season, one that saw Robb emerge victorious after Brueckner was the unfortunate victim of a fuel tampering scandal that had him removed from the event.

Robb then went on to win the Florida Winter Tour championship scandal-free in the same Junior MAX category, which, in our eyes, has claimed him the top Junior MAX pilot in the country.

Trenton Estep

Trenton Estep celebrates
Trenton Estep
Photo Credit: Kart360.com

How he qualified: US Open points leader

The driver who has emerged as Robb’s closest competitor, and possibly his equal, is that of Trenton Estep. The Koene USA Rotax driver put together a string of top results in the US Open series that vaulted him to the top of the points and gifted him a Grand Finals ticket for the first time. With Junior MAX probably being the most competitive of the classes during the first two rounds of the US Open, this is a well earned ticket to a very deserving driver.

Mathias Ramirez

Mathias Ramirez
Photo Credit: Kart360.com

How he qualified: Florida Winter Tour Vice-Champion

Ocala Gran Prix’s lead Junior driver, Mathias Ramirez, showed everyone how talented he was in his first winter season of Junior competition. Freshly out of Mini MAX, Ramirez vaulted into top level competition at the Florida Winter Tour, grabbing pole position at the opening round and later claiming two podiums -- including a win -- in the season. Ultimately being runner-up to teammate Robb, Ramirez earned his ticket through to Portugal due to Robb having already earned a ticket in Challenge of the Americas.

With undeniable outright speed, Ramirez has the opportunity to show well in Portugal. He’s learning a lot about his race craft driving against older competitors and that should help him overseas.

DD2 Masters

Paul Bonilla

Paul Bonilla
Photo Credit: Cody Schindel / CKN

How he qualified: Challenge of the Americas Champion

In his first full season in Rotax Challenge of the Americas, Paul Bonilla put down a string of six top two finishes in Masters MAX. Because international Rotax competition does not offer a Masters MAX category, Bonilla will try his hand in the DD2 Masters category. Being his first trip to the Grand Finals, on an unfamiliar Sodi Kart, and powered by an unfamiliar DD2 engine, Bonilla will have some obvious obstacles to overcome right away as he looks to contend with the sport’s best.

Derek Wang

Derek Wang at the Masters MAX podium
Derek Wang
Photo Credit: Kart360.com

How he qualified: US Open points leader

A few of this year’s team drivers are multiple visitors to the finals and Derek Wang is amongst them. Now a five time member of Team USA, this will be Wang’s third shot at DD2 Masters. Winning his ticket through the US Open series, BBR Karting’s driver won both finals, securing the ticket on Sunday in Colorado as he and Scott Falcone had made controversial contact on the last lap of the final.