EKN: Race Rotax US Trophy West Series – Tucson Race Report

Rotax 2024 West Tucson 1024x683

The second stop for the 2024 Race Rotax US Trophy West Series was the Musselman Honda Circuit in Tucson, Arizona. Rotaxians from all across the western half of North America traveled to the Tucson, Arizona circuit on March 22-24 for the third and fourth rounds of the championship program, including a full day of practice on Friday with two separate days of competition on Saturday and Sunday.

The Race Rotax US Trophy West Series features a unique format compared to other karting events with two different layouts utilized in the same weekend. The first three sessions of Friday practice were conducted in the clockwise direction – reserved for the action in Round Four on Sunday – before the track switched to the standard counter-clockwise layout – which was used for Round Three on Saturday. Race Rotax at the end of the weekend celebrated the ‘Weekend Trophy’ podium, awarding the top-three in each category based on the two Finals results over the two days.

The Senior MAX category was once again the largest of the weekend featuring 21 drivers battling over the two rounds, welcoming two new winners on the season. Macy Williams was the star of Round Three, pulling off a near sweep of the action to claim her first triumph of 2024. A 50.153 lap time for Williams was 63 thousandths quicker than Cooper O’Clair with Canadian Bradley Bitz a close third. The top two battled the entire 10 laps of the opening heat race with O’Clair earning the win. In heat two, the two had issues on lap four while fighting for position. O’Clair retired as Williams continued and fought back to earn the win. Williams was able to start the 18-lap Final from the pole position, leading wire-to-wire. O’Clair drove forward from mid-way through the pack to end up second on the podium while Canadian Griffin Dowler ended up third with fast lap of the race. O’Clair bounced back on Sunday to clear Williams in qualifying by 58 thousandths with a 50.485 lap time. He would go on to lead every lap of the two heat races and start the Final from the pole position. O’Clair held the top spot through lap 17 before Williams was able to work past for the position and the provisional victory. A 10-second jump start penalty was handed to Williams, dropping her to 11th in the final order as O’Clair, Canadians Frederique Lemieux Boss Patel made up the Round Four top-three. O’Clair was awarded the overall trophy win for the weekend to stand P1 with Round One winner Lemieux second and Williams earning third.

Several drivers were in contention in the Junior MAX division both days. Former Team USA member Nixx Eggleston cleared the 13-driver field in Saturday qualifying with a 51.069 lap time. Gage Korn was able to grab the win in Heat #1 before Kyle Drysdale advanced to the top spot in the second heat. Eggleston made quick work at the start of the 18-lap Final, moving to second on the opening circuit before taking over the lead from Olivier Mrak. From there, Eggleston drove away to a three-tenths advantage for his first win. Double PKRA winner Antoine Lemieux was second with Mrak in third. The Canadian stood out in the qualifying session for Round Four, taking to the track in the opposite direction with a 51.613 to edge out Korn and Eggleston. Korn stepped up in the heat races to lead every lap of the two heat races. He began as the driver in the top spot in the first half of the Final before slipping down. Eventually, Eggleston assumed the lead and was able to reach the checkered first for a second triumph on the weekend. Lemieux repeated in second with fast lap of the race as Drysdale beat out Korn for the third position. The two victories for Eggleston put him at the top of the weekend podium flanked by Lemieux in second and Korn in third.

It was a near perfect weekend for double PKRA Mini MAX winner Jaxon Porter. The two-time winner in 2024 set fast time during Saturday Qualifying with a 54.652 lap time to edge out Harrison Jeffery by 88 thousandths. Porter led all seven laps of the opening heat race, but was penalized for jumping the start, handing the win over to Matteo Quinto. Canadian Christian Sanguinetti fought for the win in Heat #2, only to have Porter steal the top spot by the end. In the 14-lap Final, Porter led every circuit for a third straight victory. Jeffery ended up second with Gage Grant in third. Sunday was a clean sweep for Porter with fast time in qualifying and winning both heat races. Quinto led the opening circuit of the Final, only to have Porter take the top spot back and show the way for the remainder of the race to a fourth straight victory. Jeffery won the battle for second with Quinto in third. The weekend podium ended up with Porter on the top spot, Jeffery second and with Grant holding the third place trophy.

The Micro MAX category saw another driver double up on the weekend, this time with Lucas Tarango. Following two runner-up results last month, Tarango was able to pick up his first victory of the season on Saturday. Tarango set fast time of 56.432 in Qualifying and then led every lap of the opening heat, however, a jump start penalty took the win away. This gave the top spot to Conner Lypka. Tarango rebounded in Heat #2 for the win before a green-to-checkered performance equated to a 14-second advantage for the victory over Tyson Underwood and Yutaka Sonoda. Sunday was a perfect score for Tarango as he set fast time in qualifying once again and winning both heat races. Once again in the main event, Tarango led all 14 laps to claim his second victory of the weekend. Paxton Romero improved to second with Underwood dropping to third. The weekend podium resulted in Tarango in first with the two wins while Underwood ended up second as Romero took home third place.

While there were only three drivers in the Master MAX division, all three were within reach of the top step of the podium all weekend. The trio qualified within one tenth of each other as Clayton Kesler took the top spot but it was Christoper Mann and Billy Cleavelin taking the heat wins. An issue for Cleavelin on the opening lap of the Final put him on the sidelines. The other two fought for the position over the first half of the race until Kesler took control, earning his first victory over Mann. With all three earning a victory over the first three rounds, the tie was broken on Sunday in Round Four. Mann went out to set the fast lap in qualifying before Cleavelin won both heat races. All three drivers were nose to tail throughout the Final, however, Cleavelin led wire-to-wire for his second victory of the season over Mann and Kesler. The overall weekend trophy went to Cleavelin with Kesler second and Mann third.

Full championship points after the first half of the series can be found HERE. The momentum from Tucson propels the series over to the Texas Panhandle for Round Five and Six, taking place April 19-21 at the Amarillo Kart Complex. This marks a new track for the Race Rotax series, generating a lot of buzz and excitement from Texas racers eager to compete on home turf.

The championship points for the Race Rotax US Trophy West Series are awarded based on the best six out of eight rounds, keeping the competition tight heading into the second half of the schedule. An additional layer of excitement comes at the series finale – Round Seven and Eight – at the Grand Junction Motor Speedway in Colorado on May 10-12. Eligible class champions will be awarded coveted tickets to the Rotax Grand Finals, adding even more prestige to the championship chase.

Read the full article at eKartingNews.com.

(Photo: Race Rotax - 1 AIM)

Rotax MAX Challenge
RMC Grand Finals