EKN Trackside: 2013 Rotax Grand Final – Team USA Profile – DD2 Masters

Veteran heavy roster gives United States strong chance at world title

2013 Rotax Grand Finals Team USA logo

eKartingNews.com, the official online media partner of the United States Rotax Max Challenge, is proud to present the profiles of each member of Team USA, set to represent the Red, White and Blue at the NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans on November 10-16. With the first ever ‘Olympics of Karting’ held on United States soil, the record high 24 drivers competing in the four categories will have the entire country behind them as the fight to retain the first ever Rotax world championship, and the $10,000 bounty from the MAXSpeed Group to the first driver to secure a Rotax Grand Finals title. Over the next four days, we will look at each of the drivers that make up the 2013 Team USA for the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals.

Full EKN Trackside coverage can be found at the EKN Event Page.

A total of six drivers will take on the world, representing the USA in the DD2 Masters division. With half the group returning from last year, and the work ethic these six individuals put into their racing effort, confidence is high at matching or improving on the best results by a Team USA driver in class – runner-up by Curtis Cooksey in 2008 at La Conca, Italy. The category will utilize the Praga chassis, with four of the drivers (Falcone, Jones, Rudolph, Wang) sampling the brand during the Pan-American Challenge at NOLA last month.

TeamUSA-ScottFalconeScott Falcone
Age: 44
Hometown: Lone Tree, Colorado
United States Rotax Max Challenge: Rotax of the Rockies
Rotax Service Center: KartSport North America
Sponsors: Arrow, KartSport North America, SF Construction Inc., Falcone Custom Homes, K1 RaceGear, Alfono, Corby Concepts, Viking Power Fitness
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances: None

After missing out on the Rotax Grand Finals last year, Falcone has worked day after day preparing for this month. Earning his first ticket at the US Rotax Grand Finals with the runner-up in Masters Max, the KartSport North America driver backed it up with a third place performance at the Pan-American Challenge and was awarded the ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals behind Rudolph and Guzzi. Over the last four months, Falcone has lost nearly 40 pounds and spent time with three-time Rotax Grand Finals champion Ben Cooper to help elevate his skills behind the wheel. Falcone is driven to be among the best at NOLA.

 

(Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.us)

(Photo: Ken Johnson – Studio52.us)

Mike Jones
Age: 42
Hometown: Sachse, Texas
United States Rotax Max Challenge: Dallas Karting Complex
Rotax Service Center: Dallas Karting Complex
Sponsors: Sodi, Dallas Karting Complex, Bell Helmets, Image 1
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances: 2012

Another driver who has the speed to compete in NOLA is Jones. A veteran of the sport, the Dallas Karting Complex co-owner moved his driving focus on Rotax competition last year, earning a trip to Portugal with the Pan-American Challenge victory in Colorado. This year, Jones ran second to Rudolph at the US Rotax Grand Nationals to place himself on Team USA for a second straight year. Broken electrical wires cost him a top-five finish at the Pan-Am event last month, but the pace Jones had shows he will contend this year. The goal for Jones is to improve on the 20th position he finished last year in Portugal.

 

(Photo: PSLKarting.com)

(Photo: PSLKarting.com)

Rene Martinelli
Age: 38
Hometown: Tampa, Florida (recently moved to Roseville, Ca)
United States Rotax Max Challenge: North Florida Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center: Ocala Gran Prix
Sponsors: PSL Karting, Cat5 Grand Prix
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances: 2009, 2011, 2012

Martinelli is the most experienced Rotax Grand Finals driver on the roster once again. Making his fourth trip to the event, his first in 2009 as part of Team Mexico, the dual-citizen is primed for a strong performance this year. Unable to qualify for the main event in ’09 and last year, the PSL Karting driver is set to better his 25th position from 2011. Rene earned his ticket from the US Rotax Grand Nationals, placing third behind Rudolph and Jones, fellow Team USA members. While Martinelli did not compete at the Pan-American Challenge event last month, he was in attendance, talking with his fellow Team USA members and getting solid notes for the Rotax Grand Finals.

 

(Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.us)

(Photo: Ken Johnson – Studio52.us)

Corey Mitchell
Age: 39
Hometown: Sacramento, California
United States Rotax Max Challenge: Red Line Oil Karting Championship
Rotax Service Center: Rolison Performance Group
Sponsors: Rolison Performance Group, ZICO, NutriShop Sacramento, Brett King Design, Recovertree
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances: None

Mitchell is one of two drivers on Team USA who earned their ticket while sitting on the sidelines, or on the couch for that matter. With Falcone earning the ticket from the Pan-American Challenge, the US Rotax Grand Nationals spot in Masters Max was awarded to Mitchell. This will be the first event for Mitchell racing in the DD2 category. That was the same situation for last year’s US Rotax Grand Nationals Masters Max champion Johnny Blair, who did very well in his DD2 and Rotax Grand Finals debut. Like Blair, Mitchell is working with Rolison Performance Group to prepare for the adjustment of two-speed racing against the best in the world.

 

(Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.us)

(Photo: Ken Johnson – Studio52.us)

Alan Rudolph
Age: July 4
Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona
United States Rotax Max Challenge: Bondurant Rotax Max Challenge, Gatorz Challenge of the Americas
Rotax Service Center: PSL Karting
Sponsors: PSL Atlantic/Mike Dobbelsteyn, Bondurant SuperKart School, K1 RaceGear
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances: 2012

Its redemption time for Rudolph as he returns to his second Rotax Grand Finals. Last year’s event can be summarized by a few uncharacteristic mistakes made by the longtime veteran and BondurantSuperKartSchool instructor. Looking to move into the top-five during the main event in Portugal last year, a rare mistake sent him spinning and took him out of contention as the PSL Atlantic driver finished 18th. Now a two-time Challenge of the Americas champion, two-time US Rotax Grand Nationals winner, he added to his long CV with the Pan-American Challenge victory. With a full weekend of racing on the Praga, Rudolph is primed to challenge for the world title.

 

(Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.us)

(Photo: Ken Johnson – Studio52.us)

Derek Wang
Age: 35
Hometown: Kirkland, Washington
United States Rotax Max Challenge: Can-Am Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center: Black Racing Engines
Sponsors: Teleion Consulting
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances: 2010, 2011

This year is the first for Wang in the DD2 Masters category, earning a ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals through the new Can-Am Rotax Max Challenge. Derek’s previous two trips were in the regular DD2 category, as he earned his spots by finishing on the podium at the US Rotax Grand Nationals both times. His luck at the Rotax world championship has been absent, missing out on the main event in Egypt and Italy. In the Masters group now, Wang showed speed at the Pan-Am event, placing fourth to put three Team USA drivers in the top-five, adding to the depth this year’s roster has for the world’s best Rotaxians.

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