Rotax Max Grand Finals – Team USA – Day Three
Article by: Jeff Grist
Forecasting the weather here in south-eastern Italy is like trying to remember your wife’s size when buying gifts for Christmas. It changes constantly and is really hard to right no matter how hard you try. Overnight lightening storms and light rains cleared the area as driver arrived for a very busy day of timed practice and official qualifying. Driving the streets and roadways in Italy is a life and death experience done twice daily. Pushing your sub-sub-compact to a mind numbing 130 kph only to be passed by an elderly couple doing 145 in a 20-year-old Fiat Punta can be a tough pill to swallow on the way home after at day at the track. Another beautiful, sunny and crisp morning greeted the drivers as they turned hard left off the highway into the La Conca International Circuit. The track was up on speed from the first session as drivers and tuners dialed in their set-ups and built pace in every corner. Racers tested the red and white ribbons of curbing that line the track looking for that extra inch of road to keep them from agricultural oblivion. The palm trees that line the rows of the expansive parking and paddock area sway in the light breeze keeping temperatures cool in the late afternoon.
First to hit the track was the even number Juniors. Nick Neri went up to P1 early and held on for 9th after the 15-minute session was over. Ethan Ringel crossed in 23rd spot with Dore Chaponick, who got inside the top ten, ending the session in 24th. Quickest of the session was Andrew Palmer who netted 5th in the late stages of the practice. 35 of the 36 karts were within one second of each other with fast lap going to Joel Affolter of the Netherlands with a circuit of 51.564. In the odd number group it was Louie Pagano leading the way in 9th place with Ashley Rogero in at 27th spot in her run. Pierce Lehane of Australia lit up the session with a lap of 51.272, a full 0.224 up on second place. In session two for the Juniors it was odd numbered karts up first with Pagano going a stellar 4th quickest amongst the 36 kart field, while Rogero jumped up the sheets nicely with a 16th place lap at the end of 15 minutes. For even number group is was Neri in at 12th with Chaponick setting the 15th quick time followed by Palmer in the 20th spot and Ringel hitting the time sheets in 33rd. Fast lap for the group went to Martin Kordic of Croatia with a lap of 51.391 seconds.
Daniel Formal qualified second in Senior
(Photo: Bas Kaligis - kartxpress.com)
Senior Max was a tight field with 34 of the 36 karts within one second of each other. Leading the American charge in the even group was Danny Formal with a stellar third quick lap in the session. Stepnova Nekeel hit the sheets in 17th spot with Sam Beasley clocking 31st quick. Fast lap went to Roy Curfs of the Netherlands with a lap of 50.393. In the odd number group came the quickest lap of the session was set by Edward Brand of the UK with a lap of 50.248 seconds. Jesus Rios Jr. crossed in 17th with Victor Pedrosa close behind in 22nd. In the second session it was the odd numbers heading out first and Rios Jr. the timing loop with a lap good for 20th while Pedrosa slotted into the 22nd spot. Quick was again set by Brand who went through with a lap of 50.202. The evens went out next to see if they could nail down some quick laps before qualifying. Urban Lah of Slovenia set fast time of 50.557. Formal again lead the American contingent grabbing fourth quickest lap followed by Beasley in 15th and Nekeel in 17th. The entire group was covered by under one second.
The Masters were on pace aboard their Hasse DD2 karts for a great event with three in the field, the most from any one country. The senior master lead the way as Mike Daniel crossed in 16th with Todd Ulmen in 29th and Jim Busby Jr. in 35th. Fast lap for the first session went to Martin Victorsson of Sweden with a lap of 50.012. Busby was at the Rotax counter for a new power plant that did only three laps in the first session before expiring. In session two it was Busby quickest for Team USA setting the 5th fastest lap thanks to an new rocket followed by Daniel in 22nd and Ulmen in 26th. Fastest lap of the session went to Hamish Cross of New Zealand with a circuit of 49.956.
The two-speed class of DD2 is ripping up the track with lightening fast times. The odd numbers saw Troy Castenada nearly take the session with the second quick time to Mathew Hamilton of New Zealand. Derek Wang hit the sheets in 12th with Nathan Mauel in 22nd and Andy Dunne in at 26th. Up next were the even numbered karts with Cody Hodgson taking the quick lap to 9th place and James Carey settling in the 23rd place. Fast lap went to Daniel Morad of Canada with a lap of 49.478. In the second set of practice sessions it was Castenada again leading the way with 3rd quick lap followed by Dunne who improved to take the 10th quickest time. The duo were followed by Wang in P18 with Mauel hitting the scoring sheets in 25th place. The final session for DD2 was the evens as they looked to lock down the bragging rights. Hodgson tipped in at 4th quick while Carey moved up a few spots to hold the 19th quickest lap.
Nick Neri enjoys the perks of being the top driver for Team USA in the Junior qualifying
(Photo: Bas Kaligis - kartxpress.com)
The afternoon was dedicated to fresh rubber, fast laps and official timed qualifying as drivers looked to better their odds in the heat races with a good starting spot. The weather held as the clouds moved in to shade the sun that graced the morning practice sessions. Setting in at around 64 degrees, it was great weather for racing and produced super quick laps.
In Junior it was Alvaro Otero of Spain going quickest in group one, odd number karts with a lap of 51.161. Quickest for the American squad was Pagano in 11th while Rogero crossed the stripe with the 24th quickest lap. In group two, even numbered karts it was Martin Rump of Estonia with the quickest lap of 50.985, the first driver to go under the 51 second mark. For the USA it was Neri across the line with the second quickest lap in the session followed through by Chaponick in 20th, Ringel in 22nd and Palmer in 23rd to round out the time sheets. In the combined qualifying it is Neri in second place with Pagano in 30th, Chaponick in 36th, Ringel in 38th, Palmer in 39th and Rogero in 55th. 56 drivers of he 72 are in the 51.00-second range. Fast lap went to Martin Rump of Estonia who will get pole in Group A for all three of his heat races.
Senior qualifying was up next with odd numbered karts hitting the track first. Fast lap for this group went to Edward Brand of the UK with a lap of 49.838. Tops on the time charts for the red, white and blue was Rios in 9th place followed by Pedrosa in 26th. Next up was the even numbered karts who hit a track that kept getting faster. Laying down a blistering lap was America’s Formal to take fast lap of the session followed by Nekeel in 11th place and Beasley setting a time good for 33rd. Combined times would see Formal’s fast lap was enough to take off pole and a great starting spot for the three heat races. Fast time went to Edward Brand of the UK with at time 49.838. Rios was next on the sheets for Team USA in 16th, with NeKeel tipping in at 26th, Pedrosa in 45th and Beasley in the 69th spot.
Up next was the Masters class with 36 season pilots looking for one last grasp at glory on the world stage. Quickest of the American contingent was Busby in the 7th slotted while Daniel tucked into 22nd and Ulmen settled into 27th. Fast lap and pole for all three heats went to Scott Campbell of Team Canada with a time of 49.467.
Team USA DD2 Masters drivers
(Photo: Bas Kaligis - kartxpress.com)
The final two groups would be DD2 who took to the track as the lights came on and the sun began to set. Roy Geerts of the Netherlands lead for the odd numbered session with a fast lap of 49.144. For the US squad it was Castenada in with second quickest lap followed by Wang in 15th, Dunne in 16th and Mauel in 27th. The even number drivers went next in fill darkest and dropping air temperatures. Hodgson crossed a tough 17th with Carey through in 27th place. In the combined times it was Castenada sitting in fourth spot for a third Team USA Top Five Wang in the 25th spot, Dunne in 27th, Hodgson in 41st, Mauel in 46th and Carey rounding out the group in 58th. Fast lap in session was Daniel Morad of Canada at 49.098 seconds enough to take pole for all three heat races.
Tomorrow the field takes to the track in full anger as the series of heats takes place to begin the process of setting the final grid for the Sunday racing action. A total of 14 races will be run tomorrow as each driver completes two of their three heat races. Look for more good weather as drivers get up on the wheel and look to score well in each session.
For complete coverage, visit the EKN Event Page.
Official Coverage of Team USA is brought to you by G7 Motorsports of Brookville, New York. G7 Motorsports, along with team driver Anthony Gangi Jr., captured four major US titles in 2010 including the 2010 Rotax Grand Nationals Micro Max Championship, Florida Winter Tour Rotax Micro Max Championship, the Northeast US RMax Challenge Micro Max Championship and New York State Micro Max Championship. G7 Motorsports is proud to support Team USA and the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals Program. Best of luck to all Team USA drivers.