“Arizona pilot represents America well in Portugal”
Phoenix, Arizona – July 7, 2010 – Team Top Kart USA driver and American pilot Phil De La O traveled to the Portimao International Circuit in Algarve, Portugal for the opening round of the WSK World Series. Competing on a new track design against some of the world’s best karters, De La O added to his experience as he scored a solid tenth place result after coming from the last chance qualifier.
“The WSK World Series is an amazing series with high quality drivers,” expressed De La O after arriving back into the United States on Monday. “The guys I raced against are some of the biggest names in the world karting scene and to have the opportunity to run with them was amazing. Our week started out pretty good and ended strong but we had some difficulties through qualifying and the heat races.”
De La O first hit the Portimao circuit on Tuesday morning for engine break-in and practice sessions that would see him close to the top of the charts right out of the box. Utilizing his natural skills and abilities, De La O drove his Top Kart factory ride to some of the quickest times of the day. The practice and test sessions continued on Wednesday morning where the KF2 pilot would see much of the same results in the early sessions as he worked with his team and tuner to dial in the elusive setup.
De La O continued, “From Wednesday afternoon throughout Thursday we started to struggle and fall behind because of the amount of grip that was being put down to the racing surface. As more and more grip was put down the further and further I fell back from the quicker drivers. We were using Vega tires which I am unfamiliar with and that was part of the problem, but also the grip level is nothing like I have ever seen in the United States.”
The last session on Thursday was qualifying for the ultra competitive KF2 class where 37 drivers would look to score the pole position. Struggling with the grip issue, De La O was unable to turn a quick time that would challenge for the top spot as he was classified in the 27th position when the checkered flag flew. Disappointed with the result, De La O walked the Portimao International Circuit with Top Kart Team Manager Antonio and tuner Ariel Castro to try and learn the racing line and how to best utilize the grip level.
“After the track walk, I was able to better understand how to use the rubber on the racing surface to my advantage. I was able to increase cornering speed, go deeper on the brakes and drive through the corners a lot quicker than I thought was capable, and I was able to prove this during Friday’s on track action.”
The morning warm-up was a good one for the Top Kart driver as he progressed up the time sheets and ran competitive laps. Proving that he was able to change his driving style, De La O looked fast and poised to race on the challenging circuit. Entering the first heat race, De La O was unsure of what to expect as his European counterparts had proved to be very quick and aggressive in practice. After taking the green flag, De La O proved that he could run with some of the top drivers in the world as he scored a 15th place result in a fast paced race.
The second heat race would prove to be a little better for the young up-and-coming driver as he improved three more positions to finish 12th. Understanding what was to come from the wheel-to-wheel action, the multi-time American champion was improving with each and every passing lap and was hoping for a solid result in the third heat and a direct transfer spot to the main event.
The third and final heat race would prove to be a tough one for the American driver as a solid run would see De La O advance close to the top ten. With some fast laps, it looked as if a top ten result would be in order before De La O was driven over by another competitor. Going off the racing surface, De La O would fall to the tail of the field as drivers streamed by him for valuable positions. With a never-give-up attitude, De La O put his head down and turned some of his quickest laps of the weekend as he looked to catch up to the group. Working the traffic well, the Top Kart driver drove to a 13th place result but would fail to make the final by a mere point.
The following day would see De La O try and qualify for the main event from the last chance qualifier. Starting inside the second row, De La O quickly advanced forward to the second position and made a bid for the lead at the second corner. Completing the pass, De La O was on the point and began to lay down fast and consistent race laps winning the race by 2.8 seconds but more importantly, a chance to continue in the day’s racing action.
“I was relieved to take the win and have a chance to continue racing,” exclaimed De La O. “We were faster than we had proven in the heat races and had to work hard to prove that in the finals.”
Starting in the 29th position, De La O looked to progress forward to improve his starting spot for the main event. Driving like a seasoned veteran, the Top Kart driver drove his machine into the top twenty before being taken out for the second time this week. Falling back, De La O recovered to pass a few competitors and claim a 22nd place result.
Understanding that he had a fast package, De La O would look for redemption in the main event as he would start outside the eleventh row. Taking advantage of some on track incidents and with some bold late braking maneuvers, De La O would move into the top ten. Flying the American flag proudly, Phil De La O Jr. would score his first career top ten result at his first event WSK World Series event.
De La O continued, “The tenth place finish was a very good result for me and the team. I was told upon completion of the event that I am the first ever American to make a final in their first WSK event as well as the first American to score a top ten result in the KF2 class. The kart was very good as always, my tuner Ariel Castro did an awesome job with making the right changes to allow me to do well. A big thanks goes to Top Kart and to my dad, as he has supported me since I was eight years old and has always been there for me.”
Phil would like to thank his sponsors and supporters for a successful year to date: Grand Products, Team Top Kart USA, Bridgestone Racing Tires, De La O Motorsports, Red Bull, AM Engines, Northwest Floor and Wall as well as his mechanic Ariel Castro.
For sponsorship opportunities and more information on Phil De La O, Jr. and De La O Motorsports, please visit them online at www.DeLaOMotorsports.com or contact Phil De La O at 602.697.1255 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .