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November 30, 2011 News
Team News: Intrepid North America - SuperNationals XV Report

Russell produced an epic weekend: back of the back to top of the podium (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
Russell produced an epic weekend: back of the back to top of the podium
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

There is no better way to put yourself on the karting map than by winning at SKUSA SuperNationals. With the event now reaching far beyond its American shores, drivers and manufacturers from around the globe converge at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas each November looking to both end the current season on a strong note, and send a message to the world karting community about the season ahead. Intrepid Kart International did exactly that a week ago, as from dawn till dusk its star-studded line-up was front and centre at SuperNationals XV.

“Overall we’re extremely pleased with the impact we made at the event,” said Intrepid North America President Marco Di Leo. “There was a massive effort put in by the entire Intrepid family and the atmosphere under our tent was electric. We had everything from eight-year-old drivers making their first National appearance to factory drivers among the best in the world. Add in some Indy drivers and an expert support team from Intrepid and it was truly a sight to see. In debuting the new product line for both Intrepid and Praga we definitely made a statement, and it was the perfect way to kick off the 2012 racing season. Scoring two dominating wins just made it that much better!”

That Intrepid hit the mark with dominating wins cannot be argued, as Teemu Suninen took the KF2 title and George Russell was mesmerizing on his way to winning TaG Jr. Yet in looking back at the week gone past, the two victories could not have come in more contrasting fashion. Suninen began by putting his Intrepid on pole position, while Russell was putting his to the side of the track after having the engine stick on his first hot lap! The result was P63, dead last in the field.

“It wasn’t the best feeling in the world doing only one-and-a-half laps in qualifying,” Russell said after going from fastest in final practice to the back of the grid. “It altered my plans, as starting from the back I had to push and push in the heats to get through all the karts ahead of me on the grid, but I knew with a very strong team behind me we would still be able to get a good result out of it.”

He did that and then some, but not before getting his weekend back on track with three epic drives in heat racing. After starting at the end of the line three separate times, Russell produced drives to fifth, third, and seventh in the heats, to qualify P5 for Super Sunday.

Suninen swept his way to the KF2 crown (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
Suninen swept his way to the KF2 crown
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

“In the heats I was very happy with my results. Everything just seemed perfect,” Russell said of Friday and Saturday action. “I don’t think anybody would have expected getting results like that starting in the position I was starting. They have to be some of the best races I have ever raced! Then the start of the final was ok, getting into fourth position around the first corner, and once I got into the lead we had a very good battle for a few laps which was good fun. The back half was good because I had quite a big gap to second, so all I had to do was be careful with not hitting the wall and maintain the gap. Overall, it was a very good race.”

“It was good working with Intrepid North America because I got on well with the people and they helped us achieve winning the SuperNationals. It was a very good feeling to win as it is a huge event. And after qualifying 63rd, it just made the feeling even better!”

Suninen, on the other hand, was never seriously challenged, and even when he was jumped at the start he worked back to the lead in short order and won all three heats and the final with fastest lap in the field. Though the field got closer each time out during heats, Suninen was well over a second clear of the field in the closest finish, and controlled the main event from flag to flag. He set the fastest lap of the race on nineteen, and was nearly five seconds clear when the checker waved after twenty-five.

A third Intrepid podium came from North American star Daniel Formal as the TaG Senior driver was second in his debut weekend. Much like Russell, Formal spent the heat races recovering from qualifying, though not to the same extent, and second was a just reward after a very impressive collection of drives.

“I made a huge mistake in qualifying in lap two so I had only two good laps in the session and it wasn’t enough,” Formal said after clocking P19. “All the heats were great though, I just never gave up. I knew it was possible to make up the ground.”

The SuperNats rookie did that and then some, as heat runs of 4-1-2 put him P4 on the grid on Super Sunday. He continued the charge from there, claiming the second step on what many call SuperNats’ toughest podium.

Formal was second in his first major race with Intrepid (Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)
Formal was second in his first major race with Intrepid
(Photo: On Track Promotions - otp.ca)

“I got backed down to eighth at the start after I got punted but I came back,” Formal continued, noting a wild lap eight where he went from fifth to second in two corners. “Yeah, I passed two people in one corner then passed the next driver in the following corner. Then I was second, but Orcic and I were constantly close in lap time so I couldn’t really do anything for the win. I feel great though. It was a tough week, but in the end it was all good!”

If there was a group of Intrepid/Praga drivers left with the ‘what-if’ feeling following SuperNats XV, it was surely the lead trio in KZ2. First effected by an engine delay, Jeremy Iglesias, Beitske Visser and 2009 winner Bas Lammers each had to contend with problems during the week. Lammers’ hurt most, as after starting from P3 and taking the lead early in the main event, a broken exhaust robbed him of power, leading to tenth. Visser was coming through the field after retiring in heat three and starting P14, and set the fastest lap in the field on her way to sixth. Iglesias retired in heat one, and lasted just two laps of the main event before contact ended his day.

“Considering they missed a day of practice due to delays beyond their control, I feel they all stepped up and tried to make the best of the situation,” Di Leo said of the KZ2 fortunes. “The Praga team moved Lucie Panackova to S1 where she finished sixth with zero experience, but the KZ drivers just couldn’t catch a break. Lammers with the exhaust while leading, Iglesias collected early, and Visser with the fastest lap coming from outside the top ten. I think if the deck was cut a little differently, a repeat of 2009 could have been in the cards!”

Intrepid North America is now in final preparations for the Red Bull Kart Fight powered by Rotax at the Performance Racing Industry show this coming weekend in Orlando. Active in both divisions, EJ Viso and Oswaldo Negri will compete in the All-Star Division while the Karting Division will see Bas Lammers, Ben Cooper, Marco Di Leo, Jesse Lazare, Daniel Formal and Daniel Estrela take to the track.

*Team Facts: Intrepid North America is based at Goodwood Kartways in Stouffville, Ontario, Canada, where drivers can progress from turning rental kart laps to world championships. The Intrepid North America race team represents the facility at National and International Championships like the Florida Winter Tour, Pan-American Rotax Max Challenge, Eastern Canadian Karting Championship and Canadian National Championships.

It has also had drivers contest the SuperKarts! USA SuperNationals, the World Karting Association Manufacturer’s Cup, the Rotax European Championship, the Rotax International Open Championship and the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. Intrepid North America operates in conjunction with Intrepid Kart Technology, HRS Racing Engines, IMAF Racing Seats, VPD, Chapman Racing Services and Intremax.

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