Johnny Johnson

3 takeaways from the Stars and Stripes Trophy

An examination of what stood out in Utah.

Stars and Stripes signage along the fences in Utah. Photo: Johnny Johnson / Kart360

I've returned home from a weekend in one of the most beautiful states in the Union: Utah. I had the pleasure to witness the very first event put on by the well-known J3 Competition organization, now the northern distributor for Rotax in the United States. The event ran on schedule and you could tell the staff was prepared and ready.

I think if you asked anyone there, and they're being honest, the turnout was a disappointment. Many last minute cancellations didn't help, but that's par for the course in this sport of ours. J3 couldn't control that, but what they could control they did so to their professional standards we've all come to know over the years.

Adams gets to yet another Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals

It wasn't easy, but Belgian Christophe Adams had his name written on the Grand Finals ticket at the end of the weekend in Master MAX. The amiable 54-year old had his hands full with Billy Cleavelin throughout the weekend in Utah as the two drivers from opposite ends of the world were never far apart on track. The win marks Adams' 14th straight trip to the Grand Finals, increasing the record he set last year. That is an astonishing accomplishment that ranks up there with any in the sport.

MOJO D2 and D5 never dropped off

Much has been said about the refreshed D2 and D5 slick tires from BRP-Rotax and we're finally starting to see their performance in racing conditions here in the States. In Utah, competitors had one set of slick tires for their entire weekend of racing and it turned out not costing anyone any time at all. The weather we saw was very mixed, ranging from wet to dry and briefly warm to mostly cool. The sun occasionally peaked out and brought temperatures up a few degrees before clouds moved back in front. With that said, the track times in each category were consistent from the first heat race through to the finals.

As an example, Rolison Performance Group driver, Ryan Norberg, had fast time in each of his five racing sessions and they were as follows:

Heat 1: 59.304
Heat 2: 59.111
Heat 3: 59.326
Pre-Final: 58.892
Final: 59.050

The best time, as you can see, came in his final, with his set of D5's already having around 60 laps on them. The D2 showed very similar results in the younger categories. Let's look at the times of Supertune USA's Enzo Deligny:

Heat 1: 1:05.472
Heat 2: 1:05.001
Heat 3: 1:04.925
Pre-Final: 1:04.646
Final: 1:04.716

Now, remember, each category put between 50-75 laps on their tires and lap times either got better or basically stayed the same. It's impressive on its face and I'm anxious to see how these tires are excepted at a more local level for racers on budgets as they learn more about them.

J3 begins their charge into event management

J3 Competition has always been known for their race team and customer service when selling their products. Last weekend they started down a new path of event promotion and organization. From the people I spoke with candidly, the event and its format had favorable opinions. Some of the highlights were:

  • The event only spanned three days on track.
  • The event allowed for ample time on track, including 15-minute free practice sessions with an open hot grid.
  • Barcode controlled equipment, including engines and tires.
  • Everything stayed on schedule and was wrapped up by 3pm on Sunday. 

Now, some of these items, especially the final point, had some benefit from a lower turnout. However, you always have to start somewhere and J3's start went off without any major or even minor hiccups, which is solid ground to be on. I expect to see double the turnout in Pennsylvania for their Stars and Stripes Open event in early August and we'll see if their formula can scale to larger audiences, which I think it will.

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