Paddock Insider: 2013 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals – Tuesday
First day karts hit the track to determine Rotax world champions
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 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. The information will not be seen anywhere else, including notes, interviews and photos. For complete coverage, visit the EKN Event Page. Please feel free to comment and discuss our coverage and today’s action in the EKN Global Members Discussion area below:
Fast Laps Continue for Team USA in Final Session of the Day
The wind picked up for the second half of the day as drivers took on the third practice session of the day, the second official timed run. Blaine Rocha would pace his Even group, ending up fifth overall for the class. Kirkwood’s changes improved his pace, jumping up to the top five with Correa still right there. Also improving was Rogero, as she narrowed in on the baseline setup. Selliken, who was quick in the first timed run, went the other direction with major changes being made moving into Wednesday.
The best overall performance by Team USA was in the Senior Max category to put three in the top-five on the final round of the day. Oliver Askew was best overall, with Beasley quickest in his group to make it a USA 1-2. Phillip Arscott improved between sessions to cap off the top-five. Nick Neri stayed in the upper echelon of his group to remain among the top-10 contenders heading into qualifying tomorrow afternoon.
In the DD2 Masters class, veteran pilot Alan Rudolph has his program going the right direction, posting the fastest overall lap of the third practice session. With Grand Finals veterans like Christiano Morgado and Scott Campbell right in the thick of things, Rudolph and mechanic Jesse Dunham continue to improve their Praga DD2 enough to maintain his position in P1. Rudolph learned some valuable lessons during his first trip to the Grand Finals last year in Portugal that he will no doubt use come the heat races, but right now, it’s all about sheer speed. Texan Mike Jones is also showing the benefits of running in Portugal last year, sitting tenth after the final on-track session, just over a half-second behind Rudolph.
Just as Rudolph is pacing the DD2 Masters class, Team USA’s Daniel Formal is pushing aggressively to put his name in the hat for the DD2 win. After making a mid-session adjustment in session three, he rolled back on track and topped Kevin Ludi for P1, positioning him as the driver to watch in qualifying on Wednesday. Joey Wimsett was also incredibly quick, timing in third in his group behind Ferenc Kanscar and former World Champion Pier-Luc Ouelette, which put him fourth overall as only Formal was able to go faster than the top-three from the Odd group.
First Go-Around Toward World Championship
The second on-track practice session were the first timed laps for the competitors. Junior Max was up first, with seven on Team USA. Lot’s of positive attitude throughout the camp, as everyone felt very comfortable with the pace so far on a very green track. Blaine Rocha set the pace in the Even number group, finishing off P3 in group with Rolison Performance Group teammate Luke Selliken fourth. Jamaican Thomas Issa was eighth with US champion Juan Manuel Correa fifth in the Odd group.
Same can be said with the Senior group as four of the six finished within the top-10 of their group. Oliver Askew, Nick Neri and Phillip Arscott ended up top-10 overall with Askew posting best lap for Team USA. Most were happy with the chassis set-up, aside from a couple drivers having rear hubs sliding in. Engine adjustment is on the task list heading into the final session of the day.
Topping the charts in the Even session for DD2 Masters was Alan Rudolph. The veteran karter was second overall, holding the top spot in his group for the entire 15-minute distance. Five of the six Team USA drivers sat in the top-20 overall with Scott Falcone, Rene Martinelli, Mike Jones and Derek Wang starting out the event on a good note.
Team USA went P1 in DD2 class as well with US Rotax Grand Nationals and Pan-American Challenge champion Daniel Formal posting fast lap in his group. The Florida driver ended up P2 overall when combined, but certainly puts him among the early contenders. Joey Wimsett and Fritz Leesmann were fourth and sixth in the Odd group, putting three of the five Americans into the top-10 overall.
Largest Paddock in the World
To welcome 360 drivers from around the world, you need one of the largest paddock spaces available. Thanks to the great design layout of the NOLA Motorsports Park facility, everything from vender row, and all the competitors fit behind the front straight section of the facility. Two rows of ten foot deep tents provide the area for the competitors to call home for the week, making it feel like each driver has their own 10×10 tent. It is mixed emotions as some prefer the large circus tent that really makes you feel like you are at a world championship event. Others, it’s just another race as you claim your own spot, and really don’t have time to run into other competitors from other countries, expect to and from the parc ferme area.
Home Sweet Home
For Team USA, along with Team Canada, Team Mexico and other South American countries, the trip to NOLA is not much of a change. Those drivers living within a couple hours flight only experience a couple hour time difference, familiar food, familiar sites, and more importantly no feeling home sick for. Now, it’s the European, Middle East, and African countries that need to adjust to the long flight over, the American culture, and learn the NOLA circuit in the next few days. The mood around the Team USA paddock was very relaxed and positive during the build yesterday, but we will see how that changes once they hit the track Tuesday.