Barnes set for pro tour
Scott Barnes is set to fulfil a driving ambition by testing himself against the best karters in the United States in the Skusa Superkarts USA Pro Tour next season.
The island's No 1 driver will make the step up after coming sixth in the G1 Masters Shifters class at the Skusa SuperNationals, the “Super Bowl of karting”, in Las Vegas last weekend.
Barnes has been invited to drive for Indiana-based Harden Motorsports Group, who he raced for in Las Vegas, and believes a top-three finish is a realistic aim in what will be his first US championship series.
The first two rounds of the pro tour will be the WinterNationals in March before the series moves to the SpringNationals for rounds three and four in May. Both venues are yet to be determined.
Rounds five and six will be staged in New Castle, Pennsylvania, in August before the SuperNationals in Las Vegas next November.
“The Superkarts is the biggest pro karting tour in America,” said Barnes, who will race in the G1 Masters Shifters for drivers over the age of 30.
“I've done a race here or there, but I've never done a whole points series before.
“It's something new to shoot for and the goal will be to finish in the top three in the championships. I know I can run with these guys; I just need a little bit more seat time.”
Barnes initially struggled to adjust to the conditions at the temporary track at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, which contrasts markedly with the less demanding Rubis Southside Raceway in St David's.
He did, however, improve with each session, finishing sixth, ninth and eighth in his heats to qualify in seventh for the main race on Sunday.
“All of these guys ran in the pro tour this season and are used to the new motor package — a 175, which I've never driven before,” said Barnes ,who will team up with his overseas tuner, Derek Crockett, for the pro tour.
“We had a good start and halfway through the race, I made a pass on last year's winner [Rob Logan] to go sixth.
“I was bumper to bumper with fourth and fifth with one lap to go.
“We could have made a move for fifth on the last couple of corners, but it would have been an all-or-nothing move.
“It wasn't quite there so, unfortunately, I had to settle for sixth.
“Finishing sixth has given me a lot of confidence. I had the speed with very little seat time, driving with the new motor.”
The SuperNationals formed part of a trio of overseas races Barnes will compete in this year.
He won the Shifter Masters at the Rock Island Grand Prix in Illinois in September and is now preparing for the Daytona International Speedway next month.
Barnes, who is sponsored by Butterfield & Vallis, said he intends on cutting back on his appearances in the Bermuda Karting Club series this season as he looks to reallocate funds for the pro tour.
“I actually think that staying off the asphalt [at the Rubis Southside Raceway] will help,” said Barnes, who last season became the first local driver in two decades to win three classes — the Shifter, L206 Senior and Tag Senior.
“At the same time, I will put some laps in just to keep my endurance levels up and I'll definitely be back in the gym this winter. ”