The 2023 season for the United States Pro Kart Series is officially underway. The 11th season and the start of a new era with the championship program began the opening day of competition for the Southern Grand Prix at the Orlando Kart Center. A warm day at the Orlando Kart Center with stiff breeze flowing west to east across the 6/10-mile circuit and newly paved paddock, featuring four rounds of practice and the qualifying session for all eight categories in this new one-final weekend format. The grids have now been set from the action on Fast Friday for the three rounds of heat races to decide the lineups for the first main events of 2023.
Marijn Kremers will be the answer to the trivia question of ‘who was the first top qualifier in the Pro Shifter category at USPKS’. The PSL Karting / Birel ART driver cleared the field by nearly two tenths with a 50.154-second lap. The FIA World Champion will start each heat from the P1 position, with rival and former USPKS champion AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA) alongside. Myers edged out Costa Rican Danny Formal (RPG / Kosmic) for the second spot with Polish driver Karol Pasiewicz (IM / Lenzo Kart) making it four different nations in the top-four. Hunter Pickett (PSL / Birel ART) capped off the fast five in the class presented by SRP Engines.
All eyes were on two-time defending champion Ryan Norberg, and they will continue to be throughout the day on Saturday watching him start dead last in every heat race for the X30 Pro category presented by Franklin Motorsports. Norberg (RPG / Kosmic) was the favorite going into the weekend, racing at his home track. Norberg set a time of 53.582 on track, however, was unable to go across the scale above the minimum weight, missing by roughly half a pound to be placed at the 39th grid position for the start of each heat race. Diego Contecha (RPG / Kosmic) was promoted to the P1 spot, and will lead the field to the green flag throughout Saturday. Senior rookie Brandon Carr (RPM / Tony Kart) was second in the session with fellow rookie Ayden Ingratta (SCR / Redspeed) in third. Pauly Massimino (SCR / Redspeed) and Elie Goldstein (Racelab / TB Kart) completed the fast-five.
The only two winners in the field for KA100 Senior presented by Mike Doty Racing make up the top two spots in qualifying. Christian Miles (MDR / LN Racing Kart) – in only his third start in the class was able to secure the first top qualifier honor of the season with a 56.619-lap to clear the field by nearly a tenth. Former series champion Brandon Lemke (HDD / Exprit) finished the session second with Connor Ferris (TFR / Kart Republic) and Aiden Levy (TT / Kart Republic) filling out the top-four, all starting on the front row for each of the heat races. Nicholas Terlecki (HDD / Exprit) round out the fast five.
Steven Miller doubled up on the day, setting fast time in both Junior categories. The KA100 Junior presented by BBS Race Engines was first on track, with Miller (CDR / Kart Republic) posting a 57.287 lap to edge out Sebastian Garzon (Orsolon / Tony Kart) by seven hundredths. Ernesto Rivera (RPG / Kosmic), Enzo Vidmontiene (MottazSport / Parolin) and Emma Kate Scarbrough (CDR / Kart Republic) filled out the fast five. The difference was only 10 thousandths for fast time in the X30 Junior class presented by Rolison Performance Group. Miller and Rivera will go from the front row for all heat races with Teddy Musella (RPG / Kosmic) and Leonardo Escorpioni (Zanella / Tony Kart) from row two, with Vidmontiene and Scarbrough in row three.
The new KA100 Masters class presented by Speed Concepts Racing began with drama after the qualifying session. Last year’s X30 champion Danillo Ramalho (URace / Tony Kart) set fast time in the session, however, was removed from the results following tech. That promoted Mike Rolison (RPG / Kosmic) to the top of the time sheet with Martin Stone (REM / Kosmic) in second. Alex Dancho (Tony Kart), Laurentiu Mardan (Tecno Kart USA) and Tommy Andersen (HDD / Exprit) made up the fast five.
The sold-out Mini Swift class presented by DNJ International Services saw its own bit of drama. Julian Rivera (AKT / Energy) set the fast time in the session, but suffered a pushback bumper penalty that took away his fast lap of the session. That dropped him down to 35th in the order, promoting Ashton Woon (Supertune / Parolin) to the top of the charts. The top-five were all separated by 87 thousandths for their quick time, including Tristan Murhpy (RPM / Nitro Kart), Jackson Tovo (SCR / Parolin), Kai Mars (Trinity / Kart Republic) and Antonio Pizzonia Neto (Orsolon / Parolin).
A first top qualifier honor for Josh Bergman (Piquet / Sodikart) in the Micro Swift class presented by Team Ferris Racing. Bergman posted a time of 1:01.783 to clear the field by over two tenths. Juan Diego Garciarce (Orsolon / Parolin) was second in the session ahead of Pasha Ali (Parolin USA), Liam Van Beek (Parolin) and Parker Ives (RPM / Nitro Kart).
The racing begins Saturday morning with three rounds of heats to decide the grids for the main events on Sunday. Follow the coverage all weekend long on the EKN Social Media accounts for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for news, updates, photos, videos and more, including the top-10 results after each session. Listen to the racing action by heading to the EKN Live page or tune in on the EKN Radio Network.