Team News: Team Koene USA Scores Double Victories at GoPro Summer Shootout
Both Michael and Nicholas d'Orlando top the blocks in Mooresville
Heading south to the GoPro Motorplex facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, Team Koene USA would head to the event with testing in mind. With the upcoming Rotax Max Challenge United States Grand Nationals at the same facility, team drivers would be using this event as a tune-up for the upcoming national event. With drivers getting up to speed quickly in both wet and dry weather, Team Koene USA would score a pair of victories and four podiums throughout the weekend.
“It was a great weekend for the team,” explained Team Principal Mike Maurini. “Both Michael and Nicholas d’Orlando were able to take a win and two podiums each, and Derek Sobel in Rotax Junior showed the speed to run for a podium result, but would have no luck in the main events.”
Saturday would see drivers start the morning off in dry conditions before weather would move into the area for the finals. Nicholas d’Orlando and the rest of the Rotax Micro Max field would get their main event in before the heavens opened and d’Orlando would run at the pointy end of the field. Leading laps, as a quartet of drivers would swap the top position, Nicholas would end the day with a solid second place result as well as the fastest lap of the race.
Older brother Michael would contest in the Rotax Mini Max class and as the rain came, tuners and mechanics would scramble to install wet weather tires and setup. Starting the final in the eighth row, the elder of the d’Orlando brothers would have a magnificent drive moving into the top-five by the end of lap two. Continuing his march forward, Michael topped the blocks to score the victory as well as secure the fastest lap of the race.
With rain moving in and out of the area, Team Koene USA’s Derek Sobel would start the Rotax Junior main event on slick tires. Running inside the top-ten throughout the day and flirting with a top-five result, a mid-race spin after hitting a puddle at the end of a curb would end his day and chances at a victory.
Back to the track on Sunday and with a slight chance of rain in the forecast, Team Koene USA would once again stand atop the podium. Nicholas d’Orlando would be the victor of the day taking the top spot in the Rotax Micro Max division with an excellent main event as he used strategy to perfection. Working with a pair of fellow competitors to pull away from the strong field, d’Orlando would be involved in a three-kart shootout for the win and after taking the top spot on the second to last circuit, never looked back and ended his weekend with a victory.
Michael d’Orlando would also run near the pointy end of the field in his division after qualifying just inside the top-ten. Wanting to finish the day in the dry and get the necessary testing in before the upcoming Grand Nationals, Michael progressed forward four spots in the prefinal to finish fifth and another three in the main event to cross the line second. Just as his younger brother did earlier in the day, Michael worked with another driver build a lead before a last lap battle would ensue. As the two swapped the top spot on several occasions, there would be no chance at a last lap, last corner pass as a major incident would bring out the red flag with only half a lap remaining. Due to his position at the finish line the lap prior, Michael would be classified in the second position.
Derek Sobel continued his improvement under the Team Koene USA tent and it was evident in qualifying as he was quickly near the top of the time sheets. Finishing the session in the fifth position, Sobel would hope for improvement in the prefinal and put himself in position for the win.
After a great start and slotting himself into the fourth position, Sobel would falter slightly and end the prefinal in sixth but would be forced to start the day’s main event from the tail of the field due to a technical error. Starting shotgun on the field and looking to march his way forward, Sobel would be involved in a first lap incident, which was no fault of his own.
Maurini continued, “Derek was unlucky in both main events in his first weekend under the team tent. He had the speed to podium and run consistently in the top-five, just luck was not on his side this weekend. Both Michael and Nicholas d’Orlando did a great job and both deserved their victories. This has given Team Koene USA great momentum heading into the Rotax Max Challenge United States Grand Nationals in three weeks time as both our engine, chassis and driver development program is now in full swing.”
Koene USA will also continue to provide their trackside support and sales program at several upcoming national events. Competitors looking for OTK, Tony Kart, Bridgestone, Mojo, Rotax and Alpinestars products can stop by the http://www.KoeneUSA.com sprinter van to get their supplies and receive assistance with their chassis and engine related questions.