With the perfect weather, over 250 competitors, and at one of the great facilities in American karting, it was the perfect set up to crown SKUSA Pro Tour National Champions last weekend. Our event coverage was presented by ORG North America, providers of some of the sharpest looking and best fitting suits in the sport. Thanks to their support we were able to bring live onboard video throughout the weekend which thousands of you were able to watch.
There were a few incidents on track, which will tend to happen with this many karts, but no red flags were thrown and overall it felt that aggressive driving behavior was down a notch from previous events. The start of the 57-kart X30 Senior Final on Saturday saw zero (yes, 0) karts spin in the opening four corners. You wouldn’t have found a soul who would have taken that bet before the green flag. The dropdown bumpers are not in place yet in SKUSA Pro Tour competition, but perhaps with the added presence of the marshalling cameras or maybe just the openness of NCMP helped to alleviate some of that.
Kremers, Norberg, and Craig are better than this
Even though overall the weekend wasn’t overly aggressive on track, it had its moments. The two front runners in the Senior championship, Ryan Norberg and Jake Craig, are two of the top drivers we have in North America. Their abilities and accomplishments speak for themselves, but with a championship on the line, things got a bit silly last weekend.
When it came down to racing on Saturday and Sunday, they could not help but hit each other, having three separate incidents, two of which came in Saturday’s Final. Craig and Norberg collided twice in that race, resulting in two penalties to Craig -- one of which was overturned. In Sunday’s Pre-Final, Craig and Norberg again touched -- this time on the straightaway of all places -- with Norberg spinning to the back of the pack. Any chance of clean racing had gone out the window at this point and emotions started to take over.
One lap later in the same race, Marijn Kremers -- Norberg's teammate -- looked over at Craig as the Tony Kart went to the inside of turn one for position. It appears in our video below that Kremers tried to pinch him down, but did so quickly and aggressively, spinning both of them and collecting the Compkart of Dante Yu in the process. You can see the move in the following video that we shot live at the 7:45 mark.
SummerNats X30 Senior - Sunday Pre-Final
X30 Senior Sunday Pre Final with Compkart and Dante Yu.Posted by Kart360 on Sunday, August 13, 2017
The two karts continued on, about to finish 25th and 26th, until Kremers slowed down the final straight, letting Colton Ramsey in between himself and Craig. This was pretty strong evidence that the Netherlands native wanted to start behind Craig and that he had intentions of continuing his aggressive tactics in the final. After that incident, SKUSA officials agreed and decided that Kremers were to be excluded from the Pre-Final and the remainder of the day.
If it wasn’t clear in Sonoma, it’s quite obvious now that PSL Karting brought in Kremers for the Pro Tour to help improve Norberg’s odds at the Championship. Tactics like this is not unprecedented, you see it from time to time, but you could say it’s uncommon. I can’t necessarily blame them for trying to improve their position for a championship -- especially in a field of 57 drivers. Would I recommend this strategy? No. But it’s what they thought was necessary.
There’s also no reason to believe PSL had instructed a driver to go on the offensive and deliberately take out another driver. I truly believe Kremers was acting out of emotion, on his own, and made a bad decision in the moment. Everything seems a bit blown out of proportion and I hope the time off between now and Vegas will give those involved time to cool down. Because in Vegas you don’t get to slide across nice green grass -- you get to hit a barrier.
X30 Senior lived up to the hype
The big story heading into New Castle was that the huge 57-kart field would all be starting on the same straightaway. No last chance qualifiers for this one.
On Saturday, onlookers got to watch as Braden Eves powered his way from 17th to first in the Final, making one of the best passes of the year in the final corner so that he could have the advantage toward the green flag.
Eves, aboard the Vemme Kart, had the best overall pace in the closing laps and made all the right moves to find himself in second on the final lap. With Craig on the low side heading into the final corner, Eves elected to go high, pulling along side and pinching Craig on the exit to block his momentum. It was the perfect maneuver and paid off big time for his second win of the year.
On Sunday, Brandon Jarsocrak got to totally redeem himself from his failures on Saturday. Jarsocrak swept the day, but it wasn’t easy. In the final, Eves was back up front and those two would have a great battle out front. Meanwhile, Craig was making his way through the field after the mayhem in the pre-final I previously mentioned. Craig, needing to finish second to win the championship, or third with fast lap, was now into third with a handful of laps left, but without the fast-lap, he needed one more spot.
As Eves and Jarsocrak battled, Craig inched closer until he was nearly on their rear bumper. Unfortunately, it was too little too late and Craig had to settle for third, mere tenths of a second from a championship that went to Norberg.
Live stream an overall success, more to come
It wasn’t without a few hiccups (mainly a faulty HDMI cable), but overall the multiple live streams we attempted went off successfully. As of this morning, we have exceeded 11,500 total views on the three live streams we were able to broadcast. All three were streamed from the driver panel on Dante Yu’s Compkart in X30 Senior where we got to see all sorts of action, including the controversial move by Kremers on Craig in Sunday’s Pre-Final.
Our plan was to also run a live camera on Carson Morgan in the Mini Swift Sunday Pre-Final and Jake French in the S1 Sunday Final, but neither of those broadcasts saw the light of day due to what we believe was a faulty HDMI cable.
We’ll have the camera equipment back again this weekend for the ROK Cup Midwest Championship at the same New Castle venue. We’ll likely try a new vantage point from the radiator as opposed to the front driver panel that SKUSA limited us to.
Benik, DKC, BBR still on top of their respective categories
There are a few teams in the paddock who are known to be a cut above the rest in experience on a certain platform. Benik Kart has turned in another championship performance in 2017 with Carson Morgan, their third year in a row. DKC has really exploded recently in their shifter kart program, earning their back-to-back championship in S2 with Riley Dickinson, and lest not forget Jake French in S1. And then there’s BBR, who have done very well for themselves in master categories. In New Castle, they backed up their 2016 Championship with Derek Wang in X30 Master.
2017 Pro Tour National Champions:
In case the National Champions of each category have been lost in the shuffle, here they are:
S1 - Jake French (Dallas Karting Complex / Sodi Kart)
X30 Senior - Ryan Norberg (PSL Karting / Birel ART)
S2 - Riley Dickinson (Dallas Karting Complex / Sodi Kart)
S4 - Jordon Musser (3G Racing / Birel ART)
S4 Super Master - Robert Marks (CRG Nordam / CRG)
X30 Master - Derek Wang (BBR Karting / FA Kart)
X30 Junior - Dylan Tavella (Iron Rock Motorsports / Tony Kart)
Mini Swift - Carson Morgan (Benik Kart)
Micro Swift - Elliot Cox (Energy Corse NA / Energy Kart)
The Rumor Mill was churning
It wouldn’t be a SKUSA event if the rumors weren’t flying. As the big teams get together and egos collide, word spreads on certain topics and we’ve got a few that stood out to us. Keep in mind, these are strictly rumors and have not been verified -- although some do come from good sources.
- As the S1 and S2 categories have dwindled, the plan next year is for SKUSA to combine S1 and S2 into one category, also moving them to the IAME X30 Shifter power plant. S4 will remain Stock Honda.
- Dropdown bumpers will be introduced at the SuperNationals. The new safety systems have already been introduced in the States via the USPKS and California ProKart Challenge series.
- This rumor is not directly related to SKUSA, but could signal things to come. The United States Pro Kart Series is moving to all IAME power next year (Yamaha is out) and introduce the new IAME X30 Shifter engine as well. Basically aligning with SKUSA’s class structure, with the exception of S4.
And lastly... do we really need to be racing for 12 hours each day?