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Jurca and Teammate Hogg Win International Event in Spain

October 31, 2007

This past weekend, 11 drivers from North America competed at the inaugural IAME International Challenge where 31 teams made up from 16 countries, including Canada and the United States, competed in a six hour endurance race at the Circuito Internacional de Zuera in Zaragoza, Spain. Team Canada was lead by Claudio Valiante and the IAME importer Italian Motors while the USA team was headed by Jim Russell Jr. and Russell Karting, the United States IAME importer. The six hour race, with all teams running aboard FA Kart/Parilla X30/Vega packages, was split into two-three hour contest over the weekend with the team of David Jurca and Michael Hogg, running for Team Canada, taking the first race win and the overall victory. Although Jurca is American, in this event he was running for Canadian team leader Claudio Valiante.

Following the full day of practice Friday, the competition officially began with Qualifying. Canada 1 team of Jurca and Hogg continued their strong pace, placing fifth overall behind Spain, Belgium, France, and South Africa, separated by less than two-tenths. USA 1 (Brandon Adkins-Wesley Boswell-Joey Wimsett) and Canada 2 (Fritz Leesmann-Will Martindale-David Zippie) were 12th and 13th respectively while USA 2 (Mark Dismore Jr.-Devon Sandeen-Chris Scribner) were 17th out of 31 teams.

The race format would be two-three hour races and combining the finishing times to produce an overall race winner. Certain rules that were implemented were pushed to the limit and made teams come up with different strategies. No one kart could be on track for 30 minutes straight. Thus, if a driver was on track for 30 minutes and one second, they would be assessed a penalty. The pit stops were a minimum of five minutes from the time they entered pit lane, to the time they exited. This allowed the teams, who were each provided one mechanic per kart by IAME, to make any necessary changes to the kart that were needed.

Team Canada 1 quickly moved to third at the start of the first three hour race before making their first pit stop on lap 17. They eventually worked up to second before pitting again on lap 45. Following that, they took the lead on lap 67 when USA 1 ducked into pit lane. From there, they regained the lead after their third and fourth stops to take the first race win by one lap over Belgium. Team Canada 2 moved up to tenth from 15th in their first stint before pitting on lap 18. However a broken starter would while pitting would cost them 20 minutes, eventually finishing the race in 23rd, down 20 laps.

USA 2 team got the checkered flag running in sixth position. During the driver changes, they had problems getting the kart restarted. Following the officials dealing out the penalties, they were moved up to third for the first race, just two laps back of Canada 1. USA 1 team had really bad luck, crossing the line in 15th place, six laps down. The first driver stint was stopped early, near lap 14, with a cut rear tire resulting in a flat. Around lap 60, they had worked themselves to the front of the field, leading for nine laps before pitting again. Following that stop, a broken engine caused a six minute delay that saw Boswell pushing the kart in from the track for an engine change. Following penalties, they were placed 19th with a five lap punishment.

The second race put the teams back in their qualifying positions for the start rather than by the results in the first race, forcing all four North American teams to driver forward again.

Team Canada 2 rebounded from their bad luck during race one to earn a fourth place finish, putting them 15th overall. Team Canada 1 ran a conservative race except were handed a one lap penalty, dropping them to sixth in the second race. That would be enough to place Jurca and Hogg first overall by one lap, completing 142 laps in each of the races.

USA 2 again had a solid day though were assessed a one lap penalty for making a pit stop outside the pit window. They finished just one lap down in ninth place and fifth overall, three laps behind Jurca and Hogg. USA 1 had a few more issues in race two. A five lap penalty from running to long to make a stop and a miscue in the pits that caused the brake pads needing to be replaced caused a delayed them even further. In the end they finished 21st, 10 laps down and 16th overall.

“It was a great experience and was thrill to have the opportunity to compete for the United States,” commented Mark Dismore Jr. from his Indy home after returning from Spain Monday night. “I'm proud the US and Canadian drivers had a great showing running up front all weekend long. I’d be happy to return next year to compete.”

“The format was much different than what I expected,” said USA team manager Jim Russell Jr. “We had to adjust our strategy with the pit stop rules and tire management. I am proud of our drivers who did exceptionally well, each having their own driving style and worked together to find the common setup. I’m already thinking about what to change for next year.”

The winning team of Canada celebrated in Spain fashion, hitting the night scene and staying an extra day for some site-seeing around the city of Zaragoza and thus could not tracked down for some comments.

(Left to right: Claudia Valiante, Fernando Alonso, David Jurca, Michael Hogg)