From the Seat: Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals 2014 – Team USA

21 different stories from Valencia, Spain at the ‘Olympics of Karting’

(Photo: GoRotax.com)

Team USA Rotax Grand Finals 2014 logoeKartingNews.com is happy to wrap up the coverage of this year’s Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, held at the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero outside Valencia, Spain on November 25-29. Due to illness, the EKN staff was unable to travel overseas to Europe, but provided unparalleled updates from 2am Eastern time every day, powering through the five days of on-track action, providing updates on all 21 drivers that made up Team USA this year. Complete coverage can be found at the EKN Event Page.

Without the ability for direct connection before and after each on-track session for the USA pilots, a lot of information was left open as to what was happening with each driver during their journey toward Championship Saturday. We were able to connect with the Team USA drivers to get the first-person story on each of their Rotax Grand Finals experience.

Photos courtesy of the drivers and GoRotax.com

JUNIOR MAX

 

Austin Garrison

Austin Garrison

#157 – Austin Garrison
Age: 16
Hometown:
Davie, Florida
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series:
North Florida Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center:
Ocala Gran Prix
Sponsors:
Ocala Gran Prix
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
None
Mechanic: Austin Miles

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
Yes, the issue that the OGP team had was the layover time to Madrid to Valencia. It was only 45 minutes and it took one hour to get to the plane, so we missed our flight, so we had to wait two hours till the next flight left.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
My first impression looking at the race circuit was one of nervousness and exitement at the same time, because it was the first world finals that I have ever been to.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
My issue was when I first got to the race track , the seat that was picked out was way to small so after my first practice, we bought another one and changed It. I also had a radiator leak going on for the second session on day 2, so I only got 4 laps than I pulled in.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
I thought that the Sodi chassis brand was actually not that bad. It handled really well to be honest. It just had a different feeling in grip wise compared to the Tony Kart.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
My goal for the first few sessions was just to go out and lay down laps, and get used to the track. Since we missed our flight, I got there for the last session on day two and only got two laps. And the next morning, I didn’t learn much because it was raining, and only got four laps in the last session before qualifying because of the radiator leak.

What is your impression of the circuit?
The track layout was pretty fine actually, I enjoyed it. It’s a fast flowing track not really to many hard braking zones.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I grade my performance “okay”, I did as well as I could with what I had. Only had 6 dry laps before going out for qualifying, qualified horrible and got into other karts every single heat race. I was second fastest in one of the heats. Just had a lot of bad luck as well. Could of made some better decisions but wasn’t thinking about it at the time.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I would like to see the Rotax Grand Finals to be at a track around Canada.

Ryan Norberg

Ryan Norberg

#161 – Ryan Norberg
Age: 15
Hometown:
Orlando, Florida
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series:
North Florida Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center:
Ocala Gran Prix
Sponsors:
Razor Image, K1 RaceGear, Ocala Gran Prix
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
2013
Mechanic: Robert Bujdoso

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
I got to Valencia, Spain Sunday night and had to do late registration on Monday before the raffle.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
I was really impressed by the track and facilities, everything was kept really clean.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
When we first got our kart, we were not able to put the seat or adjust the pedals because my mechanic Robert Bujdoso was still on the plane flying from Las Vegas.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
I was really impressed with the Sodi Kar. It was really responsive through the fast corners, and it was really easy to work on.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
My initial goal of the weekend was to be fast enough for a top ten. By the end of the first practice day I finish P9 overall.

What is your impression of the circuit?
I was really comfortable with the track and loved all of the fast corners.

How would you grade your overall performance?
During the heat races I finished 16th, 34th, and 12th. Unfortunately, I was wrecked in the second heat and the wreck caused me to race in the LCQ. In the LCQ, I was into 8th but was spun out in the wet and fell out of contention to make the final. I would grade my overall performance as a B.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I would like to see the Rotax Grand Final go to La Conca again in 2015.

Sting Ray Robb

Sting Ray Robb

#163 – Sting Ray Robb
Age: 12
Hometown:
Boise, Idaho
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series:
Rotax Can-Am ProKart Challenge
Rotax Service Center
: Black Racing Engines
Sponsors:
Red Apple Marketplace
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
None
Mechanic: Blake Choquer

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
We didn’t have many surprises in our travels. Dad and I traveled to Spain and blazed a trail last month, so we knew what to look for. My Mom, Grandma and Papa came this time  It made it a bit more challenging because they had never been to Europe. They were all a huge help once we got here. We found that a minimum 2 1/2 hours between connections is nearly always needed. Going over was easier than coming home. We missed one connection going over and had to stay an extra six hours in Paris the first time we came.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
When we got to Kartodromo we loved the facility and that it seemed like there was not much ‘home track’ advantage because of it being so new.  It looked like it wasn’t quite finished when we went in October but thought they had time to finish, but they had New bathrooms!  (Have you ever been to South Garda?).  We heard they spent a lot of their funding building the road to get to the track. Probably not part of the original plan and when that happens you cannot go back and change place or time because so many things are promised months before that were not finished.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
We had no issues with the kart or engine. We like the Sodi because everyone was on it. We loved that the carb was sealed and we could only use two jets and change the needle. My dad called it genius. We have a good engine program at home and know enough that we felt after one session that the optimal jet would have been a 122 jet by reading the plug and the pipe. Unfortunately, nobody told us until after qualifying that a rule change was made right before we qualified, that we could change to a leaner 125 jet!!!!!!! We know we would have been faster on the 125. We shared all our data with EVERYONE on our team and only few wanted to share back. Some of them used the 125 jet in qualifying. Nobody from Rotax or Team USA relayed updated info to us. After that happened it became Papa’s job to check bulletins every hour for us. We are AWESOME team players. Just wish everyone else could see the importance of that.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
Our goal (prior to the warm-up that was right before qualifying) was to try a few things that we felt were unknown, without worrying about our times.  We had a pretty good idea what worked on the kart because we tested a Sodi at home for a couple days in between our test trip and the world’s. We offered test sessions to the other west coast team members but their schedules didn’t allow it.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
Our first goal – we wanted to make the main with a top 28!  My Dad figured we would have 8 total sessions before the pre final and mapped out where we needed to finish. We were in group 1 as odd number puts us on the cold track first every day. So when the track is wet and cold, we figured our session was always going to be a bit slower than the session right after in group 2. That became evident as the week moved forward. When I qualified 6th in our group, my dad sent a text saying we would probably be 15th in the “overall” because the second group would be faster. That is right where we ended up. That was with the 128 jet. One tenth of a second would have put us in about eighth or ninth. Top-10 would have been even more awesome. When we added up the results of those first eight sessions, we were very pleased going into the Prefinal. Our goals were met and exceeded. Our average finish was a 4.5! It gave me confidence to know that I had the pace to be in position to finish well. I knew my race craft was lacking a little because of my age and experience levels compared to some of the kids we were racing. We spent the last month working on just that. I felt I learned a ton in just the first heat. I was shaking when I came off the track. Heat #2 seemed easier and I finished 8th in Heat #3 and there was a penalty in front of me which put me in 7th.

What is your impression of the circuit?
Love the track – smooth and fast.

How would you grade your overall performance?
All in all, I’m disappointed in my Final performance but I did my best. My dad and mom and papa and gramma Suzy keep reminding me that I finished FIRST among the eight North American drivers. That’s great, but I’m still going to work harder to better that and represent better next year. Soooooo many people help me. My family of course. Blake Choquer and his family and team are family as well. He has taught me many life lessons. He has been teaching me over half my life. Also, I will say this:  God has a plan for me. I don’t know what it is, but I know whatever it is, the Glory is His. To be victorious is to give Glory to God. I hope I can just give Him more of it next year.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
If we make it to worlds next year, I hope it is in Brazil. A track with some ups and downs and maybe better weather. Maybe even a couple weeks sooner to help the weather situation, or in Italy.  North of that hurts our chances. I just hope I see you there, where ever it is.

Austin Versteeg

Austin Versteeg

#165 – Austin Versteeg
Age: 15
Hometown:
Sandy, Utah
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series:
MSquared Racing Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center
: Rolison Performance Group
Sponsors:
Litho Flexo Graphics, K1 RaceGear, ActivaDerm
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
None
Mechanic: Brian Fletcher

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
No issues from going to us to Spain.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
My first impression was how cool the location of the track was.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
Yes, there were some issues with the kart and motor. We couldn’t get the engine to rev past 12.4 even while being pushed. The chassis was bending after sessions so it was hard to predict what the kart was going to do

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
The Sodi Kart was pretty good. I liked it but not as much as the otk.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
My goals the first few sessions was to learn the track and the way the chassis handled, collecting as much data as possible.

What is your impression of the circuit?
I personally did not like the track layout.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I feel that my driving was an A but we couldn’t get the engine and chassis correct so that hurt me overall.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I would like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go to La Conca in Italy.

Christian Brooks

Christian Brooks

#168 – Christian Brooks
Age:
14
Hometown:
Santa Clarita, California
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series:
So-Cal Rotax Challenge
Rotax Service Center
: Nash Motorsportz
Sponsors:
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
None
Mechanic: Colin McGinnis and Chris Brooks “The A-Team”

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
We did not have any issues. We went straight to the airport after my last race at the SuperNationals in Vegas and had a great flight! I slept the entire way!What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
My first impression was “WOW!”  I loved the track layout! Walking into the competitors tent was really cool! Great to see all the signs with the racers names and country!

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
I wasn’t able to be there for the kart and engine lottery, but when I got there everything was waiting for me at my pit spot. Everything went very well!

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
I liked the Sodi chassis, but the handling and balance of the kart was much different then the Tony Kart I drive.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
My goal was to get a good feel for the track and test out different lines.

What is your impression of the circuit?
I loved what a high speed track it was. It is really good for passing and actual wheel-to-wheel racing.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I was upset that I had bad luck during qualifying. I qualified 44th, so I had to start all heats in 20th position. Being in 20th and on the outside at the start of each heat race was a difficult task, but I was able to avoid most of the wrecks in front of me which put me in 22nd for the pre-main. Unfortunately, because of skipping the pre-main I wasn’t able to move up.  I am very proud of myself for hanging on and that I crossed the checkered flag in the terrible conditions we had to race in during the main event.  I am very pleased I made it to the main event without having to be in the LCQ.   I feel as if I did a great job representing the USA in my first Rotax Grand Finals.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I would like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals head to Japan. I would really love to race in Japan.

SENIOR MAX

 

Oliver Askew

Oliver Askew

#264 – Oliver Askew
Age: 17
Hometown:
Jupiter, Florida
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: North Florida Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center:
Ocala Gran Prix
Sponsors:
Ocala Gran Prix, Bell Helmets, Sparco USA, Swiftwick Socks, Studio52, Race Tech Development, Risk Placement Management, Racing Driver Management
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
2011, 2012, 2013
Mechanic:
Mario Ioffredo

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
Yes, the OGP crew and I were traveling directly from the SKUSA SuperNationals Monday morning which gave us no time for plane delays. Though, while connecting in Chicago, we had a 1 hour delay due to ice on the plane which then led to us missing our connection flight to Valencia once we landed in Madrid. We knew going into the trip that we would most likely miss the first session on track but due to the delays we ended up only missing two which could have been much worse despite the circumstances.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
My first impression of the facility was much like my three Grand Finals prior, there were factory chassis support semis and tents lined up outside the massive tent which housed all of the paddock spaces for the many drivers for the week. The facility and track itself was very organized and well put together having that the track is only about a year or two old.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
To be honest, I didn’t have time to think of any questions or concerns, once I got to the track I had 30 minutes before I was on grid for my first session. I put my seat pads in, set the peddles, and went to parc ferme. Thanks to Peter Kalman and the guys at KMS, the chassis and seat was already put together and ready to hit the track once we got there.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
The Birel machine that I drove and was used for all 125 MAX Senior drivers was in my opinion a very good handling chassis. My mechanic Mario Ioffredo set the kart to standard and was perfectly fine from the first session on. I did not have any complaints.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
My goal for the first few sessions on track was to get a good feel for the corners which was easily done by following some of the faster drivers from the first few sessions on track that I missed. I was also focused on getting a good feel for the new carburetor settings that were used for the event and will be implemented for 2015.

What is your impression of the circuit?
The track was not hard to get used to, my first impression was that it was very fast and flowing. Momentum would play a huge factor. There were a few technical sections but most of the track was flat out, great for racing.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I would grade my overall performance as a B+. I know my qualifying session was not as I hoped for but I battled through the heats showing great speed and was in contention for a world championship in the rain soaked final. The OGP drivers along with Jake Craig and a few others should be given some credit for racing back to back, two of the biggest races of the year, while putting on great performances in both.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I think it would be nice to see the 2015 Grand Finals go to South Africa.

Phillip Arscott

Phillip Arscott

#255 – Phillip Arscott
Age: Newberg, Oregon
Hometown:
25
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: Rotax Can-Am ProKart Challenge
Rotax Service Center
: CMC
Sponsors:
Rolison Performance Group, CMC
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
2008, 2009, 2013
Mechanic:
Wes Boswell

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
No issues on the way over. The trip back was a struggle. Flight from Valencia to Madrid delayed due to fog which cause me to miss my connection in Madrid. A bunch of Team USA guys were in the same boat. Spent the night in Madrid. Went out and toured the cities with Team USA. Very interesting city!

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
I was impressed with the track, however the pits were interesting… They had a large temporary tent where everyone was pitted. This tent also included two restrooms which provided an unpleasant smell. The crew at KILG did a great job keeping them clean throughout the week. The smell turned out not to be an issue.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
No concerns

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
The Birel was a competent chassis. Responded well to changes, pretty consistent throughout the day and weekend.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
My goal was to learn the line, throttle points, braking points, and get an idea of gearing.

What is your impression of the circuit?
The track had nice variety. A couple of very technical chicanes and high speed sections. Racing was a little rough because there was no way to go two-wide through the chicanes. Either lift or go off the track!

How would you grade your overall performance?
Dry=B. For not driving that much this year I felt I had good speed. Moved up in every race. Wet=C-. Not so good here. Last time I drove in the rain was a practice session last year at NOLA. Before that, I can’t even remember! Definitely a little rusty.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I’d like to see another GF in North America. Maybe our northern neighbors???

Jake Craig

Jake Craig

#266 – Jake Craig
Age: 17
Hometown:
Mission Viejo, California
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: So-Cal Rotax Challenge
Rotax Service Center
: TruTech Racing Engines
Sponsors:
TruTech Racing Engines, 2Wild Karting, Complete Trailers
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
2011, 2013
Mechanic:
Kyle Kuntze

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
Traveling from the US to Spain went smoothly with no issues, even coming from the SuperNationals in Las Vegas

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
When I first entered the facility I was expecting it to be a little bit nicer. Comparing that to past tracks I went to for the Grand Finals.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
I was happy with the engine/kart I received, because there were no issues.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
I was impressed with the new Birel chassis. It was fairly easy to work with.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
My goal for the first few sessions were to learn the track and get the chassis under control as quickly as possible.

What is your impression of the circuit?
The track itself was very fun to drive both dry and wet.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I would not grade my performance very good. I was hoping for a much better end result, but I have nothing to blame except myself. Having a bad qualifying didn’t set me up for having good heat race results to start upfront for the final.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I think Australia would be an awesome place for the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals.

Dan Roeper

Dan Roeper

#259 – Dan Roeper
Age: 17
Hometown:
Delray Beach, Florida
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: South Florida Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center:
Ogden UK
Sponsors:
Oemetrix AAGM
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
None
Mechanic:
Bryn Nuttall

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
Didn’t have any issues traveling everything went smoothly

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
When I first arrived at the circuit it was cool to see the atmosphere with all the factory teams and the huge drivers tent.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
When I got my kart I was just hoping that I had gotten a good engine for the week.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
The chassis was the same as I usually race on so it was business as usual for me.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
In my first few sessions I just wanted to try to get on the pace as quick as possible so we could begin making changes.

What is your impression of the circuit?
The track was quite nice to drive, lots of fast corners with some slow technical ones as well.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I made a few mistakes with my racecraft that really killed me that week. Maybe a C is what I’d give myself.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I would like to see the Grand Finals go to somewhere warm!

Mason Marotta

Mason Marotta

#260 – Mason Marotta
Age: 20
Hometown:
Bakersfield, California
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: So-Cal Rotax Challenge
Rotax Service Center:
BN Racing
Sponsors:
Parents and Grandmother
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
None
Mechanic:
Ryan Perry

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
Luckily I didn’t have any problems traveling to or from Spain. We even scored the exit row on the way there for some extra leg room!

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
I remember that I was very excited to get to the track for the first time. I thought the facility was very nice but it was just the atmosphere of being at the Rotax Grand Finals for the first time and seeing people from around the world that left a lasting impression on me.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
No not at all. I’m sort of superstitious when it comes to numbers and I was really hoping to pick a chassis and engine in the 20’s. When they called my name I reached into the box and got number 23 so I was stoked about that.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
I really enjoyed driving the Birel. I remember coming off the track after the first practice session and telling Ryan Perry and my dad that the chassis felt very good.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
I just really wanted to get familiar with the track at first so I was doing laps by myself getting accustomed to the braking points and racing lines. After about two sessions I drove with groups of other drivers to practice passing trying to simulate some real race scenarios.

What is your impression of the circuit?
The track was really fun to drive. There were passing opportunities entering the straightaways as well as at the end of straightaways, so you really had to think ahead and make sure that your passes were clean so you wouldn’t lose that position into the next corner. I enjoyed racing on the circuit but the second corner was not ideal for first lap racing and seemed to always produce a wreck.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I felt that I drove well but there is defiantly some things that I took away from the Rotax Grand Finals that I need to work on. I’m disappointed with my result but it was a great experience and I learned a lot.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
Somewhere were its always sunny! Australia would be cool. Isn’t there a new track being built in California?

Ashley Rogero

Ashley Rogero

#267 – Ashley Rogero
Age: 17
Hometown:
Mooresville, North Carolina
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: GoPro Motorplex
Rotax Service Center
: AM Racing Engines
Sponsors:
Advance Automotive and friends
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
2010, 2012, 2013
Mechanic:
Jim Rogero

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
No not really.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
First getting there, I really liked the facility. I didn’t like the track at all when I went on the first track walk, but after my first session on track I started to love the layout.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
Not at all, I felt that we had a really strong engine package and a competitive kart.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
Being an OTK driver, it was kind of difficult switching over to a non-OTK chassis brand. I felt that we could make an extravagant change and not feel a thing, which I’m not use to. Other than that the chassis worked fine. My mechanic had the setup close right off the bat so we didn’t make many changes.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
The first few sessions we were trying to get use to the new carburetor, learn the track and figure out a general setup for the kart.

What is your impression of the circuit?
Walking the track I didn’t think I was going to like it at all but after the first session my opinion quickly changed as it is now one of my favorite tracks.

How would you grade your overall performance?
Prior to qualifying we were quick, just had an unfortunate qualifying session which threw off our whole weekend. We fought hard when we did get the chance to race and had a piece that was fast enough to be a front contender.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
Somewhere in Australia would be super cool!

DD2

 

Michael Ilavia

Michael Ilavia

#355 – Michael Ilavia
Age: 17
Hometown:
Houston, Texas
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: Burger King Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center
: J3 Competition
Sponsors:
Mom, Dad, Nana, and Papa
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
None
Mechanic:
Justin Stefani

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
We did not have a single problem coming or going to Spain but missed the Lufthansa strike by one day so we got very lucky coming back home.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
When we first arrived at the track I thought the way everything was set-up was great. But as the weekend went on and the rain eventually came, I wished there was a bit more facility to accommodate with the sub-par conditions.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
The only issue that we had was the paint started to peel off of the kart. As it turns out, CRG had a problem with their the November supply of karts. Other competitors had this problem and CRG chassis’ that were shipped to Vegas apparently had the same issue.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
The chassis itself was great! Any problem we had was fixable and in the rain it was amazing.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
My goal was to make the main without having to go to the LCQ and from there get a top-15 finish.

What is your impression of the circuit?
The track was a blast to drive in both the dry and the wet. It has to be in my top-5 favorite tracks.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I would give myself an A-, as we had the speed and the potential to do great but a couple of mistakes I made held us back. My lack of attention in qualifying cost us greatly as I had to start in P19 for all of my heat races. And after a mistake I made in Sunday’s Morning Warm-up, which caused the right front of the chassis to get hit pretty significantly, bent the chassis to no return which is what cost us a great amount of time in the Final.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
It would be cool for the Rotax Grand Finals to be held in a big Asian city like Singapore or somewhere in Australia.

Jonathan Kotyk

Jonathan Kotyk

Jonathan Kotyk
Age:
20
Hometown:
Atlantic Beach, Florida
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: North Florida Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center:
Ocala Gran Prix
Sponsors:
Ocala Gran Prix
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
None
Mechanic:
Chris Enderlein

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
Yes, our flight was booked for Monday morning which meant we would not arrive until Tuesday morning but when we landed in Madrid the flight that was going to take us to Valencia left early. This caused us to catch a later flight and arrive at the track later than we expected so I only was able to make the last practice session.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
The track looked really nice but my main focus was getting on track

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
We didn’t have any time to look over the kart when we arrived. The main priority was to mount the seat and weights so I could get on track. Thankfully the kart was put together well and nothing fell off or shifted.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
It was the first time that I had driven a CRG chassis. It handled much different than the Tony Kart but after a few laps I got used to it.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
The goal of the first sessions was to work on the kart setup and to understand how the new carburetor worked.

What is your impression of the circuit?
I liked the track layout and it was really good to race.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I would of liked to done better but I just could not catch a break. I was taken out in two of the three heat races.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I would like to see the Rotax Grand Finals be held in Asia (China, Japan, or Thailand) or an Eastern European country (Russia, Hungry, Romania).

Nick Neri

Nick Neri

Nick Neri
Age: 18
Hometown:
Palmetto, Florida
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: North Florida Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center:
Ocala Gran Prix
Sponsors:
Ocala Gran Prix, Bell Helmets, Razor Image, GO Designs, Dark Horse Pros
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
2009, 2010, 2013
Mechanic:
Alex Speed

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
After leaving Las Vegas on Monday morning to go straight to Spain, myself and a couple other drivers missed our connecting flight from Madrid to Valencia. Which made our already late arrival even later

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
My first impression this year was a bit distracted compared to years passed. I went straight to the track after the airport and had to rush straight into registration to get ready for practice after missing the first two sessions. I actually barely saw the track before driving on it. Normally I am someone that likes to walk the track before driving it which wasn’t possible this year.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
Even with my late arrival, getting the equipment together went really smoothly. I can’t thank my mechanic Alex Speed enough for getting everything ready so quickly and getting me on track for the final session on Tuesday.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
I personally really enjoyed driving the CRG. Going from a Tony Kart to the CRG was a big jump and the kart was very different, but I enjoy a challenge. It has been a while since I raced a non-OTK product and it was enjoyable to work with something a bit foreign to me.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
Having missed the first two practice sessions my main concern was getting caught up with everyone else. We had to use Qualifying to do some testing which put me in a less than ideal starting spot for my heats. That paired with some bad luck in my final heat made me have to work a lot harder for a decent result.

What is your impression of the circuit?
I really enjoyed driving the track, but turns two and three made starting the heat races mid pack difficult. There was a incident there every race, which was both a blessing and a curse starting mid pack. It gave me a few free spots in heats one and two but also collected me in the third heat.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I was pretty happy with my top 10 drive in the final after starting last, but am a bit disappointed with the result at the end. Having a DNF in the final heat took away my chances of a decent starting position for the race, and if we had been able to race our pre-final I believe I could of had a top 5 finish. But in the end after all the tough luck I can’t complain too much.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
As a racer I would really enjoy going back to one of my all time favorite tracks La Conca, but as a traveler I would enjoy somewhere in either Australia or Japan.

Gavin Reichelt

Gavin Reichelt

#358 – Gavin Reichelt
Age: 16
Hometown:
Rhinebeck, New York
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: Northeast Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center
: PSL Karting
Sponsors:
N/A
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
None
Mechanic:
N/A

Not available for comment

DD2 MASTERS

 

Bobby Greene

Bobby Greene

#456 – Bobby Greene
Age: 43
Hometown:
Fernandina Beach, Florida
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: N/A
Rotax Service Center:
Oakland Valley Race Park
Sponsors:
SKLTN
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
none
Mechanic:
Mike Ramirez

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
Nothing but a long flight and a little jet lag

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
Pretty good facility overall, bathrooms clean, bar was nice, parking relatively close – a restaurant onsite would have been nice.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
Both were good although the shifters were backwards for me – first gear was on right

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
Overall I liked the chassis but the brakes seemed inconsistent

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
Learn track and sort out chassis

What is your impression of the circuit?
Track was great – very smooth – fast and technical – turn 2 is too tight for 36 karts – led to a lot of early lap crashes

How would you grade your overall performance?
C-

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
South America would be cool

Erik Jackson

Erik Jackson

#467 – Erik Jackson
Age: 38
Hometown:
Long Beach, California
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: So-Cal Rotax Challenge
Rotax Service Center
: PSL SoCal
Sponsors:
Baldozier Racing, Motul, Gut Wrench Crossfit, HKE
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
2011
Mechanic: Francios Doran

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
Travels to Spain were pretty smooth considering a pretty long flight.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
The track was very impressive, fast swooping European type circuit. Somewhat narrow though and going off would be a problem, very rocky soil.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
Only concerns I had with chassis is no seat time with a Praga. In 2011, Team USA was spoiled by OGP, providing all the chassis for the classes and private testing at their track prior to the Rotax Grand Finals, which helped a lot.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
Praga is a very impressive chassis. Easy to tune, responsive to changes made. Small changes make big improvements on the track. User friendly, wouldn’t mind having one to race in the states.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
First sessions were used to get familiar with track and understanding the kart.

What is your impression of the circuit?
The track was very fast and very technical at the same time. The tight corners had to be nailed just right, if you messed up in one corner, you would blow the next 3 corners. Slow in and fast is what needed to happen.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I had a rough week racing at RGF. The competition is super tough in DD2 Masters, something like 12 world champions in our class and everyone was fast.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I’d like to see grand finals in Italy, Mexico or Brazil would be cool.

Mike Jones

Mike Jones

#460 – Mike Jones
Age: 43
Hometown:
Union Valley, Texas
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: Dallas Karting Complex
Rotax Service Center:
Dallas Karting Complex
Sponsors:
Dallas Karting Complex, Sodi Kart, Bell Helmets, Alpinestars
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
2012, 2013
Mechanic: Sean Owens

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
No issues at all. Actually one of the easiest flights I’ve experienced.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
Incredible facility, first class all the way.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
No issues or concerns. I was a bit late on arrival so (Richard) Boisclair picked my kart for me.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
I was a bit disappointed to see that Praga was still using the same chassis as they did last year. But, we were all on the same one so big deal there.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
My main goal was to get on pace with others. It was very apparent my competitors had been there for some time practicing the circuit.

What is your impression of the circuit?
Top notch all the way, awesome design.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I grade myself a D-; I should have taken the time to come over with some other Team USA members for practice.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I don’t really mind where the next race is, I’ll be there regardless.

Ken Maxfield

Ken Maxfield

#455 – Ken Maxfield
Age: 52
Hometown:
Salt Lake City, Utah
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: MSquared Racing Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center:
MSquared Karting
Sponsors:
Leading Edge Motorsports, KartSport North America, MSquard Karting
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
None
Mechanic: Garrett Maxfield

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
No issues with travel other than out of 5 travelers, Air France managed to not transfer 2 bags on our flight.  It was inconvenient to get the bags back to us.  We flew into Barcelona for some sightseeing and to adjust to the time change before driving to Valencia. After Valencia we drove to Madrid for some more sight seeing.  Spain is a beautiful county and me and my family was grateful for the opportunity to see it.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
The facility is located about 30 minutes outside of Valencia. You get to the facility on a narrow windy road that is surrounded by orange groves on both sides.  As you come around a corner you could see huge tents in the distance as you approach the facility.  I was amazed at how much temporary infrastructure was brought into the track.  I was also amazed at how much paddock space was designed into the facility to be able to host a race of this scope.  The only negative about the facility was not enough parking.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
Praga was very helpful in getting the correct seat size, and then bending the seat stays to make sure the seat fit.  There were plenty of Praga people walking around the tent to be helpful with any issues.  Praga also provided a booklet about the chassis with recommended seat position and placement.  The booklet also gave suggested front end geometry for different track conditions.  My only issue was incomplete/wrong hardware to mount the seat.  When I put the seat in the recommended position, the bottom seat bolts where not long enough, and I didn’t have enough bottom spacers.  They also did not provide the bolts and spacers to bolt the right side seat strut to the engine.  Praga had these pieces available, but you had to purchase them.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
To prepare for the Grand Finals, I purchased a brand new Praga chassis here in the US.  I wanted to get some experience with driving tuning the chassis before the Grand Finals as well as learning to drive a DD2.   So I pretty much knew the seat position and setup I was going to use for the Grand Finals.  You can’t change the axle or rear ride height of the chassis, so the only adjustments you can make are seat position and front end geometry.  The adjustments to the front end geometry were varied as I looked at other karts going to the grid.  Some had caster out, some had caster in.  Most people had the front bar in, and about 20% had it out.  I think these adjustments boil down to driver style and preference. I was able to do a rain race on the Praga here in the US.  I had a right front bearing failure due to the front hub width being wide due to the rain.  I figured that it was a defective bearing.  In the Last Chance Qualifier at the Grand Finals, we had to run a rain setup.  After doing 10 laps, I had the same right front bearing failure on the Grand Finals chassis.  When I returned the kart to Praga, I talked to one of the Praga technicians about the failure.  He said that you cannot run the front end wide or you get the failure.  It would have been nice if Praga would have disclosed that at the start of the event. Praga seemed very fair when I returned the chassis.  The bottom of the chassis was scraped up due to several off track excursions.  I was charged for a bent side pod bar, and the right front bearings that failed.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
I had the opportunity to drive a rental kart on registration Sunday.  This allowed me a chance to learn the track layout prior to my first session in the DD2.  The first session in the DD2 kart was regulated by Rotax.  All karts had to run the same gear and jet.  Rotax threw another curve at competitors by announcing a new carburetor setup with different internal components.  The carburetor was also sealed so the only adjustment that could be made to the carburetor was main jet and needle clip position. The first session out, the carburetor felt good.  It was a little rich due to the required main jet. The second session out we put the smallest size jet allowed (138—the old carburetor setup would have been a 178-190 jet) and the motor felt very responsive. My goal for the first few sessions was to learn the track and the DD2 and be mid-pack with my times.

What is your impression of the circuit?
The track was very fun to drive.  It had a very technical infield with two long straight.  It was a very smooth surface, with large curbs that one needed to avoid.  The track was not a very physical track to drive, which I enjoyed, being the oldest competitor in the whole competition.

How would you grade your overall performance?
I would give myself a very low grade for my performance.  We made a huge mistake in qualifying by not adjusting tire pressure before we went out.  We cross threaded a stud on a hub in Parc Ferme and were scrambling to get out of Parc Fereme before they shut the gates.  This mistake caused me to qualify at the back of the field, which impacted the results of the three heat races.  The racing was very aggressive and I didn’t finish a single heat race without being spun from behind or being forced off the track.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
I think it is time for Asia to get it,  Australia or New Zealand would be good choices too.

Alan Rudolph

Alan Rudolph

#454 – Alan Rudolph
Age: July 4
Hometown:
Gilbert, Arizona
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: Bondurant Rotax Max Challenge
Rotax Service Center
: PSL Karting
Sponsors:
Michael Dobbelsteyn, Bondurant, K1 RaceGear
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
2012, 2013
Mechanic: Jesse Dunham

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
No, only getting home, flights were delayed so had to stay overnight in Madrid.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
I did go there and test so seeing it for the first time back in October was much different than the way it looked this time. First of all the facility is really nice especially considering it’s only like 6 months old they have done a lot in a short period of time. The big difference from when I tested to this time is just the sheer magnitude of the Grand Finals itself. Big massive tents, rows of karts, the support rigs of the kart manufacturer, and hundreds of people. It’s just amazing to see $3m worth of karts in one place.

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
None, looked like all 72 other karts.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
I like the Praga except of some brake issues that many of us had. The brake rotors have had manufacturing problems so it felt like the rotors were very warped, but they were not, and under heavy breaking the front tires would literally chatter and bounce off the ground. The only way I could minimize this issue was to dial out most of the front brake, which was not ideal.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
Having been on the track before it was about getting the most out of the kart every time out. With only 5 sessions before qualifying you have to push, push, push every time.

What is your impression of the circuit?
It’s a really fun track to drive but for racing it was a bit tough with the chicanes. As I have stated before I am NOT a fan of chicanes, all they do is cause crashes as you could see at the start of every race in turn 2.

How would you grade your overall performance?
Hard to grade myself. In the end I was one of the fastest in every session, posted fastest lap over all in one of the heats and in one of the morning warm ups. Then to overcome all what we did between not qualifying, missing the third heat, coming from 25th to sixth in the LCQ for the final transfer spot, to not having a pre-final and ending up fifth I would say that’s pretty frickin awesome.

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
Someplace dry and warm, how about Phoenix AZ? Problem is we don’t have the proper track for something like this at the moment. Someday I will build the proper track in the proper climate and that’s where the RMCGF will be.

Derek Wang

Derek Wang

#461 – Derek Wang
Age: 36
Hometown:
Kirkland, Washington
United States Rotax Max Challenge Home Series: Rotax Can-Am ProKart Challenge
Rotax Service Center
: Kevin Glover Karting
Sponsors:
Teleion Consulting
Rotax Grand Finals Appearances:
2010, 2011, 2013
Mechanic: Diego Valverde

Did you have any issues traveling from the United States to Spain?
The trip to Spain went terribly for me. I had a cold leaving Seattle to Las Vegas for the SuperNats which turned into bronchitis by SuperSunday. I visited an Urgent Care clinic just before taking off to Spain but unfortunately the drugs were ineffective. I was unable to sleep and barely able to breathe or drive a kart. Despite having the best tuning from Diego we only managed to qualify 24th and suffered a lot of bad luck in the heat races. I wasn’t physically able to run the warm up practice sessions and our pace got worse as the week went on.

What was your first impression when you entered the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero facility?
Rotax did the best they could for a facility without a lot of infrastructure

Were there any issues or concerns when you first received your kart and engine?
No.

What are your thoughts of the chassis brand you drove?
The Praga seems to be a great chassis and it’s the same for everybody. Although we have consistently run into problems with the brakes, Diego has found a way to keep them functioning by working on them between every session.

What was the goal of your first few sessions on track?
Not crash and troubleshoot any issues.

What is your impression of the circuit?
The layout itself is challenging with some technical sections mixed in with some high speed sections. The first few corners are very difficult to get through cleanly with 36 karts and there were a lot of first lap crashes. The facilities, infrastructure, and local staff were all much worse than any of the previous World Finals locations I’ve attended. Off track, many participants suffered travel delays, theft, health issues, and challenges with the culture. So like many poorly organized races or substandard facilities, the only highlight of the event for everyone was the ability to race against in the best in the world

How would you grade your overall performance?
F

Where would you like to see the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals go?
Any first world country.

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