The 1st Annual US World Nitro Cup took place at Full Throttle R/C Raceway in Kissimmee, Florida. The racing format ensured excitement from the qualifiers to the mains. For the larger classes, only the top four qualifiers are guaranteed a spot on the grid, while all of the other spots are filled by bump-ups from the lower mains. The triple A format also changed the strategy that is common in regular racing formats. In the 1/8 Open class, Paolo Morganti held TQ honors for most of qualifying until an amazing run by Daniele Ielasi in the final round on Saturday morning put him in the top spot. Alberto Picco cemented his spot in the top for in the first round of qualifying, while Vincent Jackson struggled thorough the first two round until finally setting his fourth position run in round 3.
In the Masters Class, Steve Rossi took TQ honors, as the top eight were directly qualified in. On the touring car side, DJ Apolaro grabbed top qualifying honors early. He took the honors in the second round of qualifying and was able to better the time anytime the position was challenged. Two others in the top four, Jarad Scott and Jamie Corrado, had also been decided by the end of the second round of qualifying, leaving the fourth spot open for Brian Thomas to eventually capture in the third round of qualifying.
With the lower mains to be run on Saturday, and following the IFMAR style (even/odd) racing format, all of the excitement ensued. Most notably, Loran Whiting was able to bump up to the semis in both classes, while noted drivers Paul Lemieux and Diatta Collymore had great difficulties and were unable to bump into the finals. The Open class was made complete by inspired runs from Christian Lopez, Roniel Regalado, Michael Palazzola, Mike McDaniels, Brian Thomas and DJ Apolaro. Sedan drivers Maxy Velazco, Tom Esposito, Drew Quesenbury, Eric Jones, Uriah Murnan and Mike Cruze, Anthony Schimizzi and Steve McNichols were able to perform well enough to run in the Finalson Sunday.
On Sunday, the Touring finals were dominated by DJ Apolaro who won the first two of three A mains and left second and third place up for grabs. While DJ’s car proved to be legal, one third of the class were disqualified in the first A main after failing technical inspection. A top 3 finish in each of the triples gave Anthony Schimizzi second place, while Jared Scott took third place overall with a 4th place finish, and a win in the third triple.
The Master’s class was also riddled with technical disqualifications and Paulie Becattini took first with two wins, while Peter Breton and Randy Colvin to second and third respectively.
The 1/8 Open side was tighter than a drum, and took all three mains before a winner was decided. Daniele Ielasi won the first A while problems on the start with Vincent Jackson, and later in the race for Paolo Morganti put them difficult positions from podium prospects. The second of the triple as was probably amongst the most exciting races ever. The four direct qualifiers had an awesome battle through most of the race. Engine problems from Vincent Jackson caused his early removal from the track, while Daniele Ielasi was forced to pull out with less than five minutes remaining. This left the race to Picco and Morganti, who had been running P1 and P2 respectively, with fuel stops being the only thing that decided the difference. With only seconds remaining on the clock and Morganti in 2nd spot and only inches away from Picco, Paolo misjudged the entrance to the back straight slightly and needed help from a marshall. After righting the car, Morganti found himself still in 2nd place, but only inches in front of the P3 car of DJ Apolaro. Both drivers crossed the loop seconds before the clock expired and would have to race back to the finish line. Somewhere about ten feet from the line, Morganti ran out of fuel and dropped off pace. Apolaro was so close to Morganti’s Serpent that he was unable to react and bumped the P2 car enough to get him across the finish line in front of Apolaro’s Capricorn. An eventual challenge to the ROAR rules however, gave the second place finish to Apolaro and third to Paolo, with Picco taking first.
The third triple saw a determined Vincent Jackson Challenge Picco and Ielasi very early in the race and move into P1. Jackson and Picco ran hard at each other trading positions throughout most of the race. Later, on what would be Jackson’s final fuel stop, he was hit on the entrance to pit lane, which knocked his Serpent’s body askew. This allowed Picco to finish first while Jackson finished second and DJ finished third. Paolo did not run the final main. Technical inspection revealed that Picco’s car was too light during the third A-main, and his run was disqualified, which gave Jackson the win. A first and second finish in the first two mains however gave Picco top honors for the 1/8 Open class, while DJ Apolaro took second, and Daniele Ielasi took third.