- Russell Soto
Rounds 1 and 2 of Northeast Rotax Regionals at NJMP
The first two rounds of the 2016 Northeast Rotax Regional series were on the weekend of May 14th and 15th, at the Tempest Full Karting Circuit in New Jersey Motorsports Park. With the track being 1.03 miles long and having laptimes more than a minute long, it proves to be one of the more challenging tracks on the calendar.
We arrived at the track Friday to get some practice in before the long race weekend, and I was showing great pace during the first, dry half of the day. Notably banging in times consistently within hundreths of a second from Adam Rylance, the driver who would win the race on Saturday and be runner-up on Sunday. The wet did not stop me from going back out, just to get a little extra rain experience to make use of the time before heading back to the hotel for a promising race weekend.
Saturday had a forecast of no rain until 3:00 P.M, which would make the Qualifying and Pre-Final sessions dry and the final wet. It didn't end up raining, but it was definitely an eventful day. During Free practice I was third fastest, only two tenths off the driver in first. But from Qualifying to the Final I found myself struggling to keep up with the pace of the lead runners. It wasn't until lap 4 of the final that we found the reason; my engine ceased. So unfortunately I did not finish the race that day, but the team did find an engine for us to rent for the upcoming race the next day.
During the start of Sunday, I was hoping to have a promising result than the day before. The times for practice were decent, and in Qualifying I got into sixth, only half a second from the driver in pole position. Getting a good start in the Pre-final I moved to fifth, and ran well until my rear left wheel came off and stopped me from finishing the session (Pictured above is me moments after the race ended, with the kart next to the wheel that came off). Because of this, I had to start last for the Final, in the 16th position. Moving up to 9th, I battled with the drivers in 8th and 7th, being ahead of them for most of the race until the end. Due to a steering issue, they finished ahead of me, meaning that I finished 9th for the day.
As a whole, this was definitely not one of my better weekends. I left without an engine and no good results, but you learn more from a day with issues than a day without any, and I look forward to the future races where I can come out stronger.