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Luke started the 2013 season off right with a win and second place in the bitter cold Arizona desert. The 2013 Rotax Challenge of the Americas kicked off with rounds one and two in Tuscon last weekend as Luke began his bid to qualify for Team USA and the ticket to the Rotax World Finals held this year in New Orleans, LA.
Thursday & Friday Practice
Luke worked with his mechanic/driver coach Joey Wimsett and RPG team owner Mike Rolison to adjust to the Mojo D1 tires and dial grip into the chassis for the very cold and low grip track conditions. By the end of official timed practice on Friday afternoon Luke had good speed turning the second fastest time in practice and felt confident going into the race weekend.
Round One – Saturday
Luke got of to a great start to the series by winning round one by almost 3 seconds. The day did not start smoothly, however he worked through issues early in the day to finish strong. The temperatures to start the morning were in the high 20′s and water froze in Luke’s water pump. Luke went on track not knowing the cooling system was not circulating water and heat spiked in the motor so Luke pulled into the pits but it required the RPG team to quickly pull the motor and disassemble to check for damage and repaire broken gears. The motor was reassembled and back on Luke’s kart in time for qualifying. Luke was in the second group and ended the session in 5th place with no driver for the second group able to match the pace of Sonny Cervelli from group one.
In the 17 lap Pre-Luke made a strong aggressive start moving from fifth to third in corner one and to second by the end of lap one. He then chased down pole sitter Cervelli and made a pass for the lead on lap 6. From there Luke ran constant quick laps to win by a comfortable margin of 2 seconds.
In the final Luke was able to make a good start from pole then build a solid lead and cruise home for the round one win by over two seconds. Taking a very early points lead in the championship. Luke ran the second fastest time of the session behind teammate Blaine Rocha.
Round Two – Sunday
Sunday brought even lower temperature and Luke and his mechanic decided to skip morning warm up session, confident they had a good setup for qualifying. Luke and his team mate Blaine went out together in the 15 minute session and worked the draft by alternating lead and follow. They exchanged 2nd and 3rd fastest lap multiple time during the session but were unable to match Sonny Cervelli’s pole time until the last lap of the 15 minute session when Luke hit a 51.359 to take pole by .002. The top six drivers were separated by only .052
In the pre-final Luke made another great start from pole and established a 4 kart lead on the first lap. Blaine Rocha, Luke’s RPG team mate moved quickly from 4th to 2nd on the open lap and was able to catch Luke and eventually pass and take the Pre-final victory with Luke in 2nd.
The start of Sunday’s final was not Luke’s best as the Pole side line got a good jump and put Luke into 5th going into turn one on the outside. He battled quickly back up to 2nd but by that time Blaine had build a two plus second lead and Luke could only match the pace. In the end Luke crossed the line in a comfortable second place.
Next up – Phoenix
The weekend went very well and Luke established a solid points lead in the championship that he hopes to maintain or build on in rounds three and four to be held in February in Phoenix AZ. Luke swept the 2012 Challenge of the Americas and SKUSA pro tour events and looks to make another strong showing this year.
Luke with his official media sponsor M Realty produced a beautiful video highlighting Luke’s passion and drive. The video was shot on a cold winter practice day at Pat’ Acres Racing complex in Canby, OR. The winner of the video contest will receive $50,000 champion spark plugs race sponsorship for 2013. 15 other receive $5,000.
Rolison Performance Group standout Luke Selliken capped off a breakout year by becoming SKUSA! Pro-Tour National Champion at the SKUSA Supernationals. After a great start to the Pro-Tour in Phoenix where Luke swept his first TaG race en route to a championship lead. The 2nd round of SKUSA competition in Salt Lake City saw Luke overcome adversity and shine despite various issues on the the track. Finally, the Supernationals was where the Oregonian truly shined, taking on the best drivers in the world. Luke finished 3rd equally the highest finishing American in 3 years.
Luke commented on his victory,”I’m thrilled to be national champion this year especially with such a strong showing in Vegas. I hope that I can continue my success into the 2013 season. I’d like to thank Mike Rolison from RPG, Jesus Vasquez from P1 Racing Engines, my parents, my mechanic Markus for making this event a success. I could not do any of this without their hard work and support on and off the track. My sponsor M realty keeps us going and a am so grateful.