VP'S MS98 POWERS WINNERS AT PRI/CKI ALL-STAR KARTING CLASSIC
ORLANDO, FL (December 10, 2009) From one of the most talented international fields ever assembled for an open kart competition, it was Jan Heylen and Gary Carlton who emerged victorious in the 4 th Annual PRI/CKI All-Star Karting Classic at the PRI Show in Orlando, FL. Team SSC East/CRG earned a year’s worth of bragging rights as it crowned both the overall (All-Star Division) Champion and the Karter Division Champ. With both fueled by VP’s MS98 racing fuel, IZOD Indy Car’s Heylen held off a field comprised of 18 of the best Motorsports stars from around the world in a thrilling main event to claim the Overall Crown, while Carlton became a two-time Kart Division Champion with another of his trademark dominant performances.
The All-Stars Division field was a virtual ‘who’s who’ of Motorsports, with competitors from all over Europe and North America. Drivers from Formula 1, IndyCar, ALMS, NASCAR, NHRA, AMA Supercross/Motocross, Monster Truck, all returned to their kart racing roots, vying for bragging rights at PRI. Force India Formula 1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi, also representing SSC East/CRG, joined teammate Heylen on the podium, taking 3rd place behind his former F1 teammate and current NASCAR Sprint Cup standout Scott Speed.
The former Renault Eurocup and British Formula Ford Champion and Champ Car World Series competitor, Heylen was at the front of the pack for the entire event. After the SSC East/CRG tuners tweaked his machine in qualifying, Jan laid down the fastest lap to earn the pole. From flag to flag, he led a 25-lap pre-final that featured great nose to tail racing between himself, Speed and SSC East/CRG teammate Liuzzi. In 40-lap main event, the same trio was clearly in command. Heylen held on to take the checkered flag by 0.044 seconds over Speed, with Liuzzi tight in 3rd place. Karting legend and ALMS driver Alan Rudolph, also competing for Team SSC East/CRG, had a strong event – taking top 10’s in both the pre-final and final. He and fellow SSC East/CRG pilot, NASCAR’s Jamie McMurray, had a terrific battle for 6th and 7th in the main event.
The field of pro drivers battling Heylen for crown included: IZOD Indy Car drivers Jay Howard, last year’s winner; 2007 Champ Buddy Rice and NASCAR’s A.J. Allmendinger. Also in the star-studded line up – IndyCar’s Justin Wilson, Tomas Scheckter, Ed Carpenter, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alex Tagliani and Townsend Bell; NASCAR’s Colin Braun and McMurray, AMA star Kevin Windham; Monster Jam driver Joe Sylvester; and NHRA’s Matt Smith.
“For me, the PRI/CKI karting event is a lot of fun, but everyone here comes to win the race,” said Heylen. “Look around and you see some impressive names. As a result, the competitive level is so, so high. It was really, really tight and with the lapped traffic, at times it was really exciting.”
In the Karter Division, Carlton proved too much for a field of 35 competitors that included top talent from North America, South America, Great Britain and Europe. Carlton came into the event with the confidence of a past champion, having won in 2007. Handling the challenges of a wet track early in the day, he consistently got faster in each stage. From 4th place in qualifying, Carlton was able to avoid a major tangle that triggered a red flag early in the pre-final to take 2nd place after a great battle Kyle Wiegand for the top spot.
In the main event, the top group of Carlton, Wiegand and Chris Wehrheim outdistanced itself from the field. With Wiegand and Wehrheim fighting for 2nd, Carlton stayed in top form and was able to pull away enough to navigate cleanly through lap traffic. He cruised to his second PRI CKI Karting All-Star Classic victory by over a second. Fellow SSC East/CRG driver and 2009 CKI KF2 Champion Arie Ouimet also had a strong performance, earning a 4th place finish in the main event. The results earned both SSC East/CRG drivers a spot in the All-Stars Division main event; where Carlton would add to the successful outing by out-dueling many of Motorsports’ biggest names to take 5th place and a $500 award.
“The PRI/CKI Karting All-Star Classic is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year – I can think of no other event that features so many top drivers,” Carlton said. “Not only does it bring together competitors from racing hot spots around the world, but also drivers from so many different series. The common denominator is kart racing – it’s virtually where they all began their careers. I can’t wait to do it again next year.”
The PRI/CKI Karting All-Star Classic will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net affiliation of cable networks. Both the Karter and All-Star Divisions of the race will have their own dedicated half-hour broadcasts that will air in a minimum of 86 million households. Last year’s PRI event, with re-air dates, was viewed in more than 700,000 households helping bring karting to the mainstream media. The Karter division from the 2009 event will air on Monday, January 11, 2010, at 4:30 p.m. local time while the All-Star division will be broadcast on Monday, January 18, 2010, at 4:30 p.m.