Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals at Centennial in Denver Hard Fight for K&N Teen

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The Grand Nationals Rotax Max Challenge was held at the Track at Centennial in Denver, Colorado the week of August 20. High School Sophomore Jacob Pearlman of Carlsbad, California earned a spot in the main event, with a decisive qualifying race win.

Jacob Pearlman in #125 DPK/Birel with K&N Engineering Products
Jacob Pearlman in #125 DPK/Birel with K&N Engineering Products
For JP, an early practice crash bent the frame of his race kart and the week got off to a difficult start. He was also fighting a troublesome motor. Fortunately JP’s team straightened things out just in time to qualify 24th Thursday morning out of a 53 kart field. This meant he would start 12th in each of the three kart heat races.
Jacob Pearlman preps for Rotax Grand Nationals
Jacob Pearlman preps for Rotax Grand Nationals

On Saturday, only 34 of the 53 Junior Rotax karts would qualify to race in the final events on Saturday. The first 28 spots in the field were determined by the results of the three heat races. In the first 10-lap heat race, JP finished 7th. There was a crash just ahead of him in the second heat where two karts collided and went spinning across the race track. JP avoided the wreck, but was tagged in the right rear wheel and was sent spinning off the track and down an embankment. He finished the heat at 23rd.

During the final heat, JP was taken out again. “Two karts crashed into each other entering the first turn,” said Pearlman. “I was shoved into the wreck and off the track by the karts behind me. I finished 19th.”

Under the Rotax Max Nationals qualifying format, JP was now ranked 31st out of the 53 competitors. He had one last chance to be guaranteed a spot in the 34 kart final events, in the Last Chance Qualifier race. Of the 25 karts that would race, only the top 6 finishers would transfer to the final on Saturday.

“Light rain began to dot the race track,” said JP’s father Richard Pearlman. “JP lined up in the 3rd spot, inside the first row to take the green flag for the 16 lap Last Chance Qualifier.” Despite the slick track, JP moved up to 2nd place. On lap 11, JP slipped his #125 DPK/Birel with K&N Engineering Products, past the leader and into first place. JP won the race by 20 kart lengths and earned his spot in the big show. “I am really proud to have K&N Products on my kart,” said JP. “K&N is a key part to our success.”

In the final, JP started mid-pack. Unfortunately there were problems in the first lap and he went off the track down a 15 foot embankment. As the field sped away, JP worked alone to drag his kart up the hill by the front bumper to the racing surface. “He discovered race officials would not let him back in the race,” said Pearlman. “There was an animated conversation between JP and the officials, but the decision was final.”

Grand National events are very difficult and very rough. “It’s a go or go home type of environment,” said Pearlman. “We are very proud of our son.”

JP will return to Rotax action on September 22nd with the Gatorz Karting Cup at Moran Raceway. He will have another chance as the nationals largest Rotax Max Challenge Series returns to Beaumont, California for the season finale.

Follow Jacob Pearlman's progress throughout the racing season at the K&N news site.  Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.

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