Dekeyser Claims Inaugural Grand Prix Series Win!

The very first event for the CalSpeed Grand Prix Series took to the track last night, negotiating the Tecnico circuit for the first of the four round championship throughout the summer. Geared towards newer, less-experienced drivers, as well as other in the ‘Bronze’ license level, the GP Series saw a sold out field of 50 in action Thursday night.

The first session to hit the twists and turns of one of the most challenging circuits at CalSpeed was the optional practice session, with 37 of the entrants electing for the extra seat time. Fastest in the first group was Steven Dekeyser, a budding competition karter at Tri-C Karters in his first full season of racing. His time of 1:04.973 was good enough to pace the opening session, but with group two came more speed, and a little more experience in sport karts.

Sprint Series rookie Tiange Li would set fast time in practice two, his 1:03.711 making him the only driver to break into the 103’s; for Dekeyser, he would finish up 5th quick, as fellow Sprint Series [SE] drivers Nick Rajewski and Yinkai Zhao went 2-3, while Jayden Martinez clocked the 4th quick in his CalSpeed debut.

The first session that would matter this season though would be qualifying, with the field of 50 split into two groups, broken up by how drivers signed up for the event. Putting it on provisional pole in Qualy group one would be the aforementioned Li, his 104.013 just a little off his time in practice. As group two took to the track, more of the same names from practice were again at the top of the time sheets, all looking to make it into the top 25, and a direct transfer into the A-Main. It was a very tight session too, as Dekeyser backed up his pace form practice, clocking a fast time just .014 better than P2 in the session Yingkai Zhao, but still not enough to bump Li from the overall pole position.

When racing began it would be Allen Person leading the field away, having just missed the top 25 in qualifying by .053, it also being just his second day at the track. He would come under fire right away from another fairly new driver to CalSpeed, as Kartik Gopalakrishnan would take over lead duties by the end of lap one. Kartik would prove to be the pace setter for most of the 10 lap race, with another karting debutant Chris Pineda showing well in P2 in his first ever time on track. The driver on the move however was Josef Nalezny, starting in the 18th spot, but steadily making in roads lap after lap; with three to go he was on Pineda, and one lap later he was the new leader. The last time Josef was on track at CalSpeed it was with Machismo 12 Hour in November, and after 10 laps, he was the B-Main winner at the first ever GP Series.

Last session to roll off would be the one for all the marbles, the A-Main. After top time in qualifying, Tiange Li would leave from the first position with Steven Dekeyser alongside, but it would be the latter leading at the end of lap one. In fact, it would be the top two breaking away from the rest of the pack, with Dekeyser leading, Li giving chase, and the rest of the pack fighting for the final podium spot. That spot was held by P3 starter Yingkai Zhao for much of the race, with Nick Rajeski, and newcomer Brandon Boone, breaking away from the rest of the pack themselves. With three to go Rajewski made his move on Zhao to bump up into the hardware, with Boone following suite the same lap, but Zhao was able to fight back to beat Boone at the line. Out front, Steven Dekeyser put the icing on the cake, cutting fastest lap of the race with two to go, bringing home the win with Tiange Li second, while the rest of the pack closed in on the fight for the final piece of hardware. At the line, it was all one pack from 3rd to 9th, advantage Nick Rajewski.

Round #1 is in the books, with round #2 taking to the Sportivo layout on Thursday, June 16th; spots are filling up already, so don’t miss out!

Round #2 Registration:

GP Series Top Ten

  1. Steven Dekeyser
  2. Tiange Li
  3. Nick Rajewski
  4. Yingkai Zhao
  5. Brandon Boone
  6. Matthew Pinto
  7. Rodney Bryant Jr
  8. Matthew Slama
  9. Jayden Martinez
  10. Revin Easley

Full Results:

Point Standings Top 10

  1. Steven Dekeyser         200
  2. Tiange Li                      195
  3. Nick Rajewski              190
  4. Yingkai Zhao                185
  5. Brandon Boone           180
  6. Matthew Pinto            175
  7. Rodney Bryant Jr        172
  8. Matthew Slama          169
  9. Jayden Martinez         166
  10. Revin Easley                163

Full Standings: