Michael d’Orlando Ends 2016 Florida Winter Tour Season with Championship Title
What a stellar 2016 Florida Winter Tour campaign for Hartsdale, NY native Michael d’Orlando! In just his second season in the Junior ranks, he has proven to be one of the best Juniors in North America as he put on an impressive performance in both the Rok Cup and Rotax Max Challenge series, bringing home the Junior Rok Cup Vice-Championship title and collecting the 2016 Junior Rotax Max Challenge Championship title, earning him a spot on Team USA for the Rotax Grand Finals.
The 3-month long, 6-race-weekend dual series Florida Winter Tour would be an impressive start to the 2016 season, but it was not without it’s share of hiccups and controversy. Overcoming multiple bouts of adversity, it was Michael’s consistency on the race track that kept him in contention, and ultimately the top step of the coveted Florida Winter Tour podium.
Michael kicked off his Rok Cup FWT season strong with an impressive win at Homestead in January, and would follow that up with a dramatic 8th place finish in Ocala in February, after contact with fellow competitors late in the lap count of the main event pushed him back to that position; and then sealed the series Vice-Championship title in March with a solid 3rd place result at Palm Beach Karting complex against fierce experienced competition.
Michael’s success in Junior Rok would be complemented by his Rotax performance as he ultimately upped the ante in his Junior Rotax campaign in the Rotax Max Challenge series. Overcoming multiple setbacks in the opening round at Homestead for controversial equipment technical infractions, Michael would cross the stripe with a back-to-back win from his Rok Cup win the weekend prior; however he would later be officially scored with a second place finish after the awards presentation following the evaluation of fellow competitors protests of non-performance parts. Back to Ocala in February, again overcoming adversity with a driving infraction in the prefinal and then having to fight back from the back of the pack after first lap contact in the main event, Michael would finish 9th.
Championship weekend in Ocala in March would continue to be a test of adversity and consistency. But he would find both a little luck and show an incredible performance of perseverance. After competing in a rain soaked 12-lap prefinal with a flat tire for the duration, to finish an impressive 6th place, and seeing Championship points leader Mathias Ramirez removed from the points race with a technical disqualification, the feature race would find Michael a mere 31 points behind Canadian Ryan McDermid at the green flag.
Contact in turn one would force Michael back as far as 20th and McDermid up with the front three leaders, making it seem as if another Championship title was out of reach. But everything changed as Michael continued to charge forward for the 25-lap race and McDermid’s race ended early on with an equipment malfunction. With the race coming down between 4th place points driver Aiden Keel, the focus for the championship was now on Keel and Michael d’Orlando. But Michael would not give up and continue to charge forward to finish 6th, and Keel in 2nd, which was enough for Michael to claim the championship title along with a ticket to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals later this year in Italy and a championship watch from series sponsor, Ritmo Mundo.
“Looking back, this was definitely not an easy Florida Winter Tour and there’s great competition here,” explains Michael. “I just had to keep focused on getting the best results we could and keep pushing forward. I had great support from my team and we had the equipment to run at the front for the entire series. I’m super happy to a part of Team USA. Thank you to my friends and family for their support, my team at KoeneUSA and to MaxSpeed Entertainment for a fantastic series. I look forward to seeing what the rest of 2016 has to offer.”
Michael d’Orlando & d’Orlando Enterprises would like to extend special Thanks to their team at KoeneUSA (www.teamkoeneusa.com) including Mike Maurini & Martijn Koene and Matt Long for their tireless efforts and commitment. Thanks to the administration and staff at Iona Preparatory School for their continued support and assistance in and outside the classroom, and to their sponsors at adidas Motorsport/FysheUSA (adidasmotorsport.com), Kool Nerd Clothing (www.koolnerdclothing.com) and Focused Project Management (www.focusedpm.net).
Be sure to check out their online store for Adidas karting products and Kool Nerd apparel at www.dorlandoracingstore.com.
For more information on Nicholas d’Orlando, please visit www.dorlandoracing.com. Be sure to follow him on Facebook (Nicholas d’Orlando Racing), Twitter (@dorlandoracing) and Instagram (@dorlandoracing) to stay up to date on news, information, photos and results.