FOR ROUND 3, THE WEATHER AND RACING WERE ON FIRE AT THE RIDGE DURING MOTOAMERICA
June 27, 2022
The weather was scorching, and so was the racing as the North America Talent Cup (NATC) young guns were back in action for round three alongside MotoAmerica at The Ridge Motorsports Park.
With temperatures in the nineties, the maturing road racers had their work cut out for them battling the heat and a very technical track. Some riders expressed frustration with the challenging layout, while others excelled. The NATC grid was down four riders due to injuries.
Coming into round three, Jesse James Shedden (Jesse James Racing) lead Alessandro Di Mario by eighteen points and Jayden Fernandez (Fernandez Racing) by thirty-nine points.
Di Mario wasted no time setting the fastest lap in qualifying of 1:58.779. The next closest time of 2:00.225, and qualifying P2, was set by Aiden Sneed (Aiden Sneed 613 Racing). Qualifying P3 was Alex Enriquez (California Mini Grand Prix) with a 2:00.581. The second row in qualifying went to Jayden Fernandez, Logan Cunnison (Speed Demon Racing), and Suhaib Salem (NJ Moto Racing).
Race one started out rough with two red flag restarts. The first red flag was a result of Jayden Fernandez having a nasty high-side crash that unfortunately ended his race weekend with no points. After receiving a medical evaluation, he was declared unfit. The loss of Fernandez on the grid opened up championship point opportunities for several riders.
With the first restart, Alex Enriquez had de ja vu as his bike failed to start on the starting grid. He missed the warm up lap while his team frantically tried to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, as the bike sat, the tires cooled off and as soon as Enriquez was able to set off behind the pace car on the start, he lost the rear in turn two and crashed. To make things even more intense, after a bad start, pole sitter Di Mario tried to make a pass into turn six and lost the front. The race was red flagged due to the Enriquez crash and fluid on the track. A stroke of luck for Di Mario.
After being rescheduled to the end of the day, and with time to repair the bike, Di Mario had a second chance. Di Mario did not let his luck go to waste. He was able to break away early on and never looked back, taking the checkered over three seconds ahead of Chris Clark (Rumble Kong Racing).
The fight for second and third position between Clark, Logan Cunnison, and Aiden Sneed impressed spectators and racers. Ultimately, Clark edged out Cunnison by .05 and took second spot. Sneed showed he has true grit with brave attempts to pass in a very intimidating turn thirteen.
The heat was more intense for race two. A few riders were dealing with soreness from previous crashes and there would be no relief. Other riders made key set up changes to improve confidence. One of those riders was Jesse James Shedden, who had qualified an uncharacteristic P8. Shedden had expressed frustration with the track and was riding double-duty while competing in the Mini Cup by Motul Ohvale series.
Race two saw a clean start. Again, Di Mario got out front and looked to put some distance between him and his points rivals. Setting consistent sub-two-minute lap times, he was in a league of his own. Di Mario crossed the finish line over three-seconds ahead again, to complete an impressive hat trick for the weekend; pole position, and wins in both races.
After a great start and making some impressive moves in and out of the chicane, Shedden put himself in position to compete for P2. The changes the team made to the bike helped Shedden post some impressive lap times and he slowly broke away from the pack to secure a comfortable second place finish two seconds ahead of Logan Cunnison.
Cunnison had his best weekend to date with two third place finishes. The young racer from Louisiana has showed he is a force to be reckoned with. His improvement from round one is stellar and a win may be sooner than later.
The next round will take place July 15-17 at Roebling Road Raceway in Georgia during the WERA race weekend.