September 17, 2023

16-year-old Sontag crowned World Champion in Arizona

A new 2WD Offroad World Champion has been crowned in Arizona with 16-year-old Tater Sontag becoming the 14th different winner of the sport’s most prestigious Title with a flawless win in A2 ahead of outgoing Champion Spencer Rivkin.  Showing moments of promise in 4WD but just missing cut with P11 in qualifying, when the event switched to 2WD the Team Losi Racing driver found a form that put the American right in the mix with the World’s RC establishment.  Two TQ runs in qualifying en-route to becoming overall Top Qualifier was an indication of what was to come.  Winning A1, the nerves of the big occasion highlighted by some mistakes he would survive, that result just sent his confidence even higher.  Despite the pressure of Rivkin and newly crowned 4WD Champion Davide Ongaro taking turns at chasing him down, Tater drove a near perfect race to secure the World Title on his Championship debut.  A3 would decide who joined him on the podium at Hobby Action RC Raceway, second place qualifier Rivkin dominating from the front to lock in 2nd overall.  Holding off Schumacher team-mate Ryan Cavalieri for second in A3, Broc Champlin completed the all American podium line-up.

With the realisation of what he just achieved not yet fully set in, summing up the event Sontag said, ‘My goal coming here was just to make the Main.  I just wanted to dip my toe in the sand.  We got close in 4WD so I was super bummed to qualify 11th, then from the start of 2WD everything clicked for me.  I never expected this this year’.  Explaining 1:8 Offroad has been his main focus the last 2-years, he said he has only raced 1:10 four or five times in the last year.  Asked about the A2 win that gave him the Title, he said, ‘I had a pretty clean start with myself and Spencer getting a gap. He then had a mistake at the triple which gave me some breathing space but then Ongaro started closing me down until he had a mistake at the same place’.  He continued, ‘Spencer was coming very fast at the end but I knew if I could just keep in on four wheels and between the pipes I would be good’.  A Title TLR has been chasing for 20-years, Sontag said, ‘my car was phenomenal and super easy to drive around’.  Starting with the iconic race brand when beginning in the hobby at the age of ‘6-ish’, he said they are the only chassis sponsor he has ever had and he acknowledged the contribution team-mate Dakotah Phend has made to today’s success.

Asked to sum up his 2WD campaign,  Rivkin said, ‘Congrats to Tater, he drove an awesome race.  I gave everything I had but came up a little short’.  A driver who was widely tipped to dominant at his home track due to its very unique dirt, finishing runner-up in both 4WD and 2WD the Team Associated driver said, ‘I’m happy how it ended.  It couldn’t have been any better.  Sure I could have TQ’d but all you need to do is give yourself a chance and that’s what I did.  I put it all out there so I can be happy with that.’

Having missed the A-Mains four years ago at the last World Championships in Slovakia, Champlin said, ‘I’m happy with the podium.  We had the pace and car to be able to win.  If I had qualified better who knows’.  Posting a TQ run in the final qualifier to line-up fourth on the grid, the Las Vegas driver said A1 was a set back, his race coming undone on the opening lap.  A driver who has really come to the fore, just missing the podium in 4WD behind team-mate Michal Orlowski, he concluded, ‘it has been awesome year and we’ll try to keep it going’.

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