2016 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals: Team USA Tuesday Report

Mini/Micro drivers continue to stand out along with Wang/Schiavo duo leading DD2 Masters

(Photo: Rotax-Kart.com)

Rotax Grand Finals 2016 logoThe second day of on-track action is completed at the Circuito Internazionale Napoli in Sarno, Italy for the 2016 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. The 17th edition of the ‘Olympics of Karting’ was greeted with its first taste of wet weather as a drizzle covered the 1.547km course at the end of the day, disrupting the final Senior Max group and the entire DD2 Masters with the track drying out for the DD2 divisions for non qualifying practice. Rain tires were not distributed on the day, thus there was no It was an simple day for the 360 drivers, with just two sessions for all six categories. As more laps were put down, so was the Mojo rubber with times getting quicker and quicker for each category. With the rain, it will be interesting to see how the track comes back for Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 19 provided one final non qualifying practice session for each class, before qualifying sets the stage for the remainder of the competition. The first round of heat races complete the day as the 360 competitors begin the wheel-to-wheel action. Below is a recap of the Team USA performances on the day.


Micro Max

The Micro drivers continue to be among the top contenders through the second day of practice. Both finished the second session yesterday inside the top-four, and each remain among the top-eight. LaRoque has gained over one second since yesterday, finishing the day just 65 thousandths off the quickest time thus far in the category. With one set of tires permitted for the event, mechanic Blake Choquer is taking it easy on the Mojo rubber, putting in short stints during the practice sessions. He is working on Diego’s driving and getting the jetting down in preparation for qualifying. Egozi has also gain speed, placing eighth both sessions. Talking with his mechanic Adam Johnson, the key right now is working on grip level.

Diego LaRoque with Blake Choquer (Photo: B Choquer)

Diego LaRoque with Blake Choquer (Photo: B Choquer)

#11 – James Egozi
Miami, Florida
RMCGF Appearances: none

Practice 3: 1:12.676 (8th) +0.666
Practice 4: 1:11.980 (8th) +0.627

#12 – Diego LaRoque
Phoenix, Arizona
RMCGF Appearances: none

Practice 3: 1:12.357 (4th) +0.347
Practice 4: 1:11.418 (3rd) +0.065


Mini Max

Luca Mars and Arias Deukmedjian led the way for the Mini Max squad for Team USA. Mars posted the fastest lap of Practice 3, with Arias landing the second quickest time in Practice 4. Deukmedjian races with Andersen Racing aboard the Birel ART, and comes in understanding the chassis utilized for the weekend. Mars did testing in September aboard the Birel ART in Florida, and it certainly is showing to put him top-10 in all three sessions thus far. Working with Dan and Andy Schlosser, their focus more on-track situations with cleaning up Luca’s driving and looking ahead by finding the right passing zones. Challenge of the Americas 2016 Micro Max champion Ashton Torgerson is still in his first year racing in the Mini Max division, and gaining speed as the event goes on.

Luca Mars receiving his kart Sunday (Photo: Dan Schlosser)

Luca Mars receiving his kart Sunday (Photo: Dan Schlosser)

#51 – Luca Mars
Sewickley, Pennsylvania
RMCGF Appearances: none

Practice 3: 1:08.100 (1st)
Practice 4: 1:08.229 (5th)+0.249

#52 – Ashton Torgerson
Central Point, Oregon
RMCGF Appearances: none

Practice 3: 1:08.793 (19th) +0.693
Practice 4: 1:08.486 (13th) +0.506

#54 – Arias Deukmedjian
Orlando, Florida
RMCGF Appearances: none

Practice 3: 1:08.422 (4th) +0.322
Practice 4: 1:07.980 (2nd) +0.000


Junior Max

Heading to Italy, the expectations were high for the Junior Max roster on Team USA. The pressure is on last year’s RMCGF runner-up Mathias Ramirez with a chance to repeat his podium finish. Ramirez went just seven laps before ending his session short. The Florida driver bounced back to place 10th in his group, but only 30th overall. The rest of the squad seems to be struggling to break into the top-30.

#101 – Michael d’Orlando
Hartsdale, New York
RMCGF Appearances: none

Practice 3: 1:04.012 (26th) +0.920
Practice 4: 1:04.086 (36th) +1.387

#102 – Dylan Tavella
Massapequa, New York
RMCGF Appearances: none

Practice 3: 1:03.675 (27th) +0.912
Practice 4: 1:03.303 (24th) +0.725

#103 – Mathias Ramirez
Bradenton, Florida
RMCGF Appearances: 2015

Practice 3: 1:04.367 (32nd) +1.275
Practice 4: 1:03.034 (10th) +0.355

#113 – Nicholas Brueckner
Hockley, Texas
RMCGF Appearances: none

Practice 3: 1:03.604 (16th) +0.512
Practice 4: 1:03.159 (16th) +0.460


Senior Max

Jake Craig and Christian Brooks are among the most experienced on Team USA, even at the younger ages compared to the Masters drivers who have been racing long before they were born. Two-time US Grand Nationals champion Craig told EKN clean space on track is difficult to find, allowing for a strong setup for a fast lap. Brooks is just ahead of him in terms of lap times, with both needing to find some speed before qualifying on Wednesday.

#205 – Jake Craig
Mission Viejo, California
RMCGF Appearances: 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015

Practice 3: 1:02.837 (30th) +1.030
Practice 4: 1:02.597 (28th) +0.849

#235 – Christian Brooks
Santa Clarita, California
RMCGF Appearances: 2014, 2015

Practice 3: 1:02.688 (26th) +0.881
Practice 4: 1:02.556 (27th) +0.808


DD2

Both of the Team USA DD2 drivers showed glimpse of speed on the day. Dev Gore posted a fast time in Practice 3 to put him in the top-25, separated by just under three tenths of a second. The rain hit prior to their final session, and was drying out so the track was not at 100%. No stranger to rain, Christian Munoz was 11th in the first group to hit the track, ending up 31st overall for Practice 4.

#313 – Christian Munoz
Miami, Florida
RMCGF Appearances: 2013

Practice 3: 1:01.697 (23rd) +0.473
Practice 4: 1:01.933 (11th) +0.443

#338 – Dev Gore
Atlanta, Georgia
RMCGF Appearances: none

Practice 3: 1:01.547 (9th) +0.259
Practice 4: 1:02.159 (27th) +0.879


DD2 Masters

It’s the Wang/Schiavo show thus far in the DD2 Masters category for Team USA. Derek Wang, the top qualifier at the 2015 RMCGF, was fifth overall in the Practice 3 sessions, gaining a half-second from his fast time yesterday. Placed in the odd group, along with Billy Cleavelin – making his first DD2 start ever, and veteran Mike Jones, were caught in the drizzle that hit the track and their Practice 4 session was a wash with no rain tires. The track was able to form a dry line for the second group including even number karts, Luis Schiavo placing sixth after sitting ninth overall in Practice 3.

Derek Wang prior to Monday's practice sessions (Photo: D Wang)

Derek Wang prior to Monday’s practice sessions (Photo: D Wang)

#403 – Derek Wang
Seattle, Washington
RMCGF Appearances: 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015

Practice 3: 1:01.629 (2nd) +0.157
Practice 4: 1:18.026 (15th) +2.246

#410 – Nathan Mauel
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
RMCGF Appearances: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2015

Practice 3: 1:01.964 (15th) +0.478
Practice 4: 1:14.156 (35th) +11.504

#419 – Billy Cleavelin
Shell Beach, California
RMCGF Appearances: none

Practice 3: 1:02.072 (17th) +0.600
Practice 4: 1:28.478 (32nd) +12.698

#433 – Mike Jones
Union Valley, Texas
RMCGF Appearances: 2012, 2013, 2014

Practice 3: 1:02.063 (15th) +0.591
Practice 4: 1:20.124 (22nd) +4.344

#446 – Luis Schiavo
Miami, Florida
RMCGF Appearances: 2010, 2014, 2015

Practice 3: 1:01.737 (5th) +0.251
Practice 4: 1:03.042 (6th) +0.589

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