BATAVIA, Ohio (story by Keith Shampine / photos by Alissa Grim) — The World Karting Association held its first ever national race at the new Motorsports Country Club of Cincinnati August 12-14 with the Vega Tire Manufacturers Cup presented by Summit Racing Equipment coming to southwest Ohio for the series’ annual Grand National.
Ten divisions competed at MCC’s national circuit, a 0.95-mile 16-turn course that kept drivers on their toes throughout the weekend. Friday and Saturday featured picture-perfect weather with temperatures mostly in the mid-70s and clear skies. Mother Nature made her presence known Sunday when rain moved into the area at the end of the morning warmup session, and sticking around through early afternoon. Nearly every qualifying session and race was run in wet conditions before the rain finally moved out for good and the track dried, allowing the last few finals of the weekend to compete in the dry.
Drivers were competing for outstanding WKA Grand National trophies, which were awarded to top-three finishers. In addition, WKA posted a number of cash purses for top-three finishers in several divisions and Summit Racing and GameStop gift cards to younger classes.
Ohio’s Isaac Malcuit was the big winner at the event as he closed his double national championship season with four feature wins at MCC. Malcuit won Mini Swift and 206 Cadet finals both days for the feat. He’d dominate Mini Swift all weekend with Jacob Schaible finishing P2 Saturday and Max Weiland P2 Sunday in the rain.
AJ Stoner did give Malcuit some good competition in 206 Cadet. Stoner was able to pass Malcuit several times in pre-final and final races Saturday and finished only 0.045 seconds back of Malcuit in Saturday’s 15-lap main. Quinn Aherns was third.
Malcuit sat out qualifying and the pre-final Sunday before making the call for the final. He’d start P7 and make his way to the front in three laps of competition. A heavy rain began to fall about midway through the 12-lap final and with the young drivers on slick tires, WKA officials opted to red flag the race and let teams switch to rain tires. The race restarted with Malcuit pulling out to a 7.3-second lead before the checkers waved in another dominating performance. Grady Cronick was second with Schaible, Stoner and Aherns finished third through fifth.
Aherns swept the new 206 Cadet Advanced class for the yellow slide. Aherns dominated both finals over Tori Daniels.
KA Senior was the largest class at the event with 15 entrants Saturday and competition was fierce. Three drivers — Gavin Bayliff, Finn Bayliff and Brandon Adkins — separated themselves from the rest of the field throughout the weekend. They’d finish in that order in Saturday’s final with Gavin scoring a 1.4-second win over his brother. Adkins would settle for P3 with Nikita Poneris P4 and Emerson Reed P5.
Sunday’s KA Senior final was one of the few classes able to run in the dry as the last race of the day. It proved to be one of the best contests of the weekend with the Bayliff brothers and Adkins trading the lead probably a dozen times throughout the 12-lapper. With just a few laps to go, Adkins and Finn Bayliff made contact in the tight Turn 11 with both drivers momentarily sliding off the track, allowing Gavin Bayliff to pull ahead. He’d race to a 0.529-second win over Adkins while Finn Bayliff crossed the stripe P3. Not happy with the contact with Adkins, there was some unsportsmanlike conduct after the race resulting in Finn Bayliff’s disqualification. This gave P3 to Drew James with Riley Pegram having her best run of the weekend for P4 and Kyle Raymond P5.
KA Junior was another hotly contested division with 14 drivers taking the green flag in Saturday’s final. Wesley Gundler scored Saturday’s win over Eli Warren after Indy Andersen crossed the finish stripe first but was penalized to P4 after an avoidable contact penalty. Luke Powers was credited with P3 and Ryan Miller P5 behind Andersen.
Sunday’s KA Junior final ran in the rain and Mateo Naranjo wheeled his Trinity Karting Group / Kart Republic to a dominating victory. Naranjo, who was quickest in nearly every Friday practice session, led most of Saturday’s final and ran into trouble late after contact with Andersen. He’d rebound for a solid 12-lap final Sunday with a 7.6-second win over Powers. Andersen finished third with Aryton Grim fourth and Love Landin rounding out the top five.
Eight youngsters entered the Kid Kart Comer division and the racing was good throughout the Grand National. Keegan Chance scored the win in Saturday’s 10-lap Kid Kart final by a convincing 15-second margin over Drew Schneider. Jaymun Trilli was third, Camila Canache fourth and Jase Macklin fifth.
On Sunday it was Canache scoring a big win by a 9.6-second advantage over Chance. Marcelo Flores led early but faded toward the end of the 8-lapper; he was able to hang on for P3. Camden Powers was P4 and George Ziminski was P5.
Grady Cronick and Danny O’Gara spit the Micro Swift finals. Cronick claimed Saturday’s Micro main event with Homer Hehemann in hot pursuit. Cronick scored the win by a 0.632-second margin over Hehemann. The pair was more than 5 seconds ahead of third-place finisher O’Gara with AJ Stoner fourth, Zion Dyer fifth and Tori Daniels sixth.
O’Gara returned Sunday to drive his best race of the weekend when it counted and triumph in the 12-lap final as the track began drying from the last shower of the day. O’Gara showed great skill in the damp conditions and dominated the race with a 6.2-second victory over Cronick. Hehemann settled for P3 in this one with Stone P4, Daniels P5 and Dyer P6.
Eli Warren and Jared Clarke split the 206 Junior races with Warren winning Saturday and Clarke holding off Warren to win Sunday. Addison Ianniello was third behind Warren and Clarke in Saturday’s 15-lapper with Cody Lindstrom fourth and Ethan Gray fifth.
Sunday’s final was one of the few races to run in the dry as the penultimate race of the day. Clarke held off the Saturday winner in this one after Warren pressured him throughout the second half of the 12-lapper. Iannello and Lindstrom were second and third for the second day in a row and Connor Kelly rounded out the top five. Ethan Gray drive a fine race in the rain in the pre-final to score the win, but ran into problems early in the final and had to settle for sixth.
Gavin Bayliff and Larry Pegram split the CIK 206 Senior 360# finals. Bayliff held off Florida’s Colin Warren to win Saturday with Finn Bayliff third, Pegram fourth and Adam Maxwell fifth.
Pegram won the Sunday final convincingly as the rain poured down. He’d cross the finish stripe more than 12 seconds ahead of Maxwell with Gavin Bayliff third. Warren and Finn Bayliff both had problems and retired early.
Click here for complete results on Race Hero from the Man. Cup Grand Nationals at MCC.
Next up for WKA’s sprint programs is a Sept. 9-11 visit to Barnesville, Georgia, where the Gold Cup Series returns to action at the quarter-mile Lamar County Speedway. The weekend marks rounds 3 of 4 of the Gold Cup after the series opened at Charlotte in June. Pre-registration is open for the event — head to worldkarting.com/series/gold-cup for the Barnesville event schedule, pre-entry, class structure and more.