Paddock Insider: 2013 United States Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals – Thursday
A daily look into the action as it happens at the GoPro Motorplex
EKN’s Paddock Insider is a new Trackside coverage addition, bringing you notes, updates and breaking news as it happens. The article will be a timeline of events as they happen during the 2013 United States Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals. The information will not be seen anywhere else, including interviews and photos. Please feel free to comment and discuss our coverage and today’s action in the EKN Global Members Discussion area below:
MIC CHECK – Daily Wrap-up
When I first clicked on the microphone this morning, all the talk of who was quick and who could challenge for the championship titles this week came to an end. It’s one of the things I love about qualifying. Everyone is on new tires, so that excuse goes out the window. The traffic is the same for all…you simply need to manage your track position and get clean track. And at the end of each session, we have an official order of equalized speed. If you’re fast, you’re at the top of the sheet. If you’re struggling, it takes a little longer to find your name as you skim down the list. Qualifying is our first real look at the reality of the situation. I love that.
Today’s qualifying sessions were exciting, as the order in the top-five kept shuffling for the entire session, for the most part. However, the highlight today was the SuperPole qualifying sessions for Junior Max and Senior Max. There was just something special in the air – a tension, a palpable excitement – that elusive ‘buzz’ we all like to talk about. Single car qualifying for the top-six after the timed group run, in reverse order….ya, it was awesome. The performances of Ashley Rogero, AJ Myers and Oliver Askew kicked the event up a notch, as both Rogero and Askew locked in the pole for the heats, while Myers advanced up the order with a great showing. The fence line was lined with family members, mechanics and even other drivers. And the feedback from the competitors involved was stellar – they LOVED it.
The heat races finally put the drivers sidepod-to-sidepod, and even with the dangerous nature of the heats and the need to stay out of trouble and avoid a damaging DNF, everyone raced hard. As it was just the first day, I was pleased with the level of intensity. I think tomorrow with see things kicked up to another level, building the urgency that will peak come Saturday morning. There is a lot at stake here – national titles, bragging rights, and of course, the chance to wear the red, white and blue of Team USA.
Oh ya, it’s on.
We’ll be back tomorrow for more….I hope you’ll join us here on EKN Trackside and will follow our new Paddock Insider page. - Rob Howden
Heat 1 Interviews:
Super Duper Pole
A great addition to the US Rotax Grand Nationals is the Super Pole session for the Junior and Senior categories. The top-six from qualifying were given a green-white-checkered single-kart run to set the order for the top-six in the final standings to set up the heat race grids. Each session saw some jostling in position, with Junior Max having Ashley Rogero jumping from third to first, while AJ Myers held the provisional pole from fifth until Oliver Askew stole it on his final lap. It was exciting to watch and certainly a great addition by the MAXSpeed Group.
OTK All the Way in Senior and Junior
The top-10 in both Junior and Senior Max qualifying were all OTK karts. A mix of Tony Kart, FA Kart and Kosmic filled the top-10. Times for the Junior field are all over the place right now. Yesterday’s quick time was a 48.5, with warm-up another 48.5, but qualifying was a only 48.7. They however run right after the DD2 group, which could pose more changes in the track then other groups. Senior however has been consistent with 47.4 lap times the benchmark over the last two days.
DD2 Categories Looking for Grip
Following the DD2 qualifying sessions, the top drivers Nathan Mauel and Alan Rudolph commented they were struggling for grip. The D3 tire is utilized in the DD2 categories, which is very different from the D1 and D2 tire we saw in the earlier sessions. The lap times showed it with fast lap in DD2 a full three tenths slower than yesterday’s time, while the Rudolph’s fast lap in qualifying was a half second slower than his quick time Wednesday.
Track Returns to Normal
After the first two session of qualifying, the track seems to have return to similar times prior to the heavy rain on Wednesday. Micro Max fast time was quicker, while the Masters Max was just a few hundredths off what was set in the final practice.
Quick Drivers in Warm Up
Micro Max – Reece Gold – 55.536
Masters Max – Scott Falcone – 49.354
Mini Max – Mathias Ramirez – 52.215
DD2 – Daniel Formal – 47.325
DD2 Masters – Alan Rudolph – 47.915
Junior Max – Kyle Kirkwood – 48.571
Senior Max – Nick Neri – 47.463
Warm Up Under Dry Conditions
Thursday’s action began with the question of rain or dry conditions. Thankfully, rain was no where in the area at the time and classes began their final preparation for qualifying with dry Mojo tires bolted on. As the practice sessions came to a close, the skies cleared above the track, making way for the warming sun. Heavy clouds still surround the area, so the threat of rain continues. The track looks to be in good shape after yesterday’s downpour.