Race Report for Viking Racing, Kart #555. Gatorz Challenge of The Americas. March 19/20th 2011
March 19/20th was supposed to be our first race in the Formula Car Challenge presented by Goodyear so after a lot of winter test both in the go kart and in the car we were excited to finally get to race the formula car. Unfortunately the weather forecast for Sonoma Wine Country was really bad with severe amounts of rain and wind. The two facts that Infineon Raceway is a high damage-risk track as well as I have not driven the car in the rain yet, I made a last minute decision to cancel the car race and instead do round 5 and 6 of the Gatorz Challenge of The Americas Kart race, which coincidently was at the Infineon Kart Track this weekend.
As I am more experienced in the wet in a Kart and as the potential monetary damage to a Kart is signfiicantly lower than a carbon fiber race car, I was determined to do a good race weekend if it was raining, snowing og whatever. My last race was in November so I was excited to get going with some sort of racing or I would have ended up racing my wife with a shopping cart in Walmart!
The Challenge of The Americas is the premier Rotax winter championship and is attended by more than 100 drivers. As I knew I was going to miss this event due to the planned car race, I had not done the first two race weekends/four races. Ironically enough as I ended up doing this anyway I could have attended the whole championship.
It should soon show that the weather forecasts was more than right. It more or less rained (monsoon like in periods) non-stop for 3 days and the wind speeds was so high Saturday night that we considered moving away from our camper Saturday night 2 AM to go to a Hotel as we were concerned the camper would flip over. Sunday morning the paddock looked like a war zone with ruined tents and equipment everywhere no electricity on the entire track as well as the highways was flooded. Both the event management as well as drivers was determined to have a race, and a few delays aside everything ran great.
Back to racing let me start with stating that I have never done so much "botanizing" accumulated in my Karting career as I did in this one weekend. I was off track so many times that I collected several pounds of mud, grass and flowers! Luckily the on track garden hose was working and both driver and kart got washed several times during the weekend (which proves I made the right call not racing the car).
The event format is two individual race days with each their practice, qualifying, pre finale, main finale and awards ceremony so it is a lot of racing in one weekend - just what we needed. Despite the several trips off the racing surface we managed to qualify on P1 both days in the DD2 Masters class and the same for the pre and main finales for both days meaning that we got away from our first two races i 2011 with two very nice trophies as well as price money for Gatorz Eyewear.
All in all a very successful weekend in a horrible weather. The Challenge of The Americas races this weekend also served as the first part of the Pan American Rotax Challenge. My goal for karting this year is to qualify for the Rotax World Championships this year in the United Arab Emirates in December, and as the winner of the Pan American will get a direct ticket to the World Championships I had the best possible start.