2016 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals: Team USA Wednesday Report

DD2 Masters heat race win by Schiavo highlight of the day along with runner-up performances in Mini and Micro

(Photo: Rotax-Kart.com)

Rotax Grand Finals 2016 logoThings got down to business in Sarno with the first day of real competition completed at the 2016 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. After two days of practice, the real battle began with qualifying and the opening round of heat races contested Wednesday at the Circuito Internazionale Napoli in southern Italy. The 360 drivers in six categories took to the 1.547km circuit with one final practice sessions in the morning that was basically a wash, with the course soaked. Thankfully, the sun shined throughout the day, with the course drying up for qualifying to line up the categories for the three rounds of heat races. DD2, DD2 Masters, Senior Max and Junior Max are split up into four groups with 36 drivers competing in the Mini and Micro divisions. The first of which took place in the afternoon, giving the competitors a first taste of wheel-to-wheel action.

Thursday, October 20 serves as the final day of heat races. Qualifying Heat #2 and Heat #3 will be held, setting up the lineups for Prefinal A and Prefinal B on Friday. Below is a recap of the Team USA performances on the day.

Micro Max

Team USA Micro Max drivers kept themselves toward the front half of the field on Wednesday. Both Egozi and LaRoque were at the front in the soaked practice session in the morning. Putting back on the dry Mojo tires, Egozi was able to post the fourth quickest lap while LaRoque only managed to place 16th. James held the fourth spot for much of the six-lap heat race, moving up in the last two laps. Into second on the final circuit, he came just 79 thousandths short of the victory. LaRoque was able to race his way up to eighth.

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

Practice 5: 1:30.775 (5th) +1.329
Qualifying: 1:11.972 (4th) +0.484
Heat 1: 2nd +0.079 (1:11.066)

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

Practice 5: 1:31.223 (8th) +1.777
Qualifying: 1:12.605 (16th) +1.117
Heat 1: 8th +4.954 (1:11.975)

Mini Max

Deukmedjian carried the flag for Team USA in Mini Max on Wednesday. The Florida driver qualifying seventh in the session, and was in the hunt for the heat race win. He led two of the seven circuits, coming out with the second position. Mars looked to be among those in contention for the pole position in qualifying, however, a very minor mechanical issue kept them from running full pace in the timed session, ending up dead last. Luca put on a show, running laps comparable to the leaders, passing half the field to end up 18th in seven laps. Torgerson was shuffled back throughout the race, not up to pace and ended up 30th.

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

Practice 5: 1:31.132 (31st) +8.421
Qualifying: 1:09.775 (36th) +1.841
Heat 1: 18th +10.578 (1:08.670)

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

Practice 5: 1:26.539 (19th) +3.828
Qualifying: 1:08.688 (18th) +0.754
Heat 1: 30th +15.570 (1:09.923)

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

Practice 5: 1:24.945 (8th) +2.234
Qualifying: 1:08.367 (7th) +0.433
Heat 1: 2nd +0.358 (1:08.512)

Junior Max

Wednesday was an improvement overall for the Junior squad of Team USA. Practice was dismal for all four, with qualifying a step in the right direction. They were bunched between 36th and 43rd, with Tavella leading the way and d’Orlando the fourth best for Team USA. Those two were in the opening heat race AB, as Tavella climbed up to 12th and dropped to 13th on the final lap. d’Orlando ran as high as 14th, shuffled back to 19th at the checkered. Ramirez showed way he was the runner-up at last year’s Rotax Grand Finals, advancing from 19th to eighth in just eight laps. Brueckner ran as high as 14th, until lap seven getting pushed down to 24th. Following the race, he was handed a 10-second penalty, thus putting him 27th in the final classification.

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

Practice 5: 1:23.188 (21st) +3.521
Qualifying: 1:03.908 (16th) +0.699
Overall: 41st +0.898
Heat Group A (Row 11)
Heat AB: 19th +11.817 (1:05.050)

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

Practice 5: 1:19.254 (2nd) +0.389
Qualifying: 1:03.697 (26th) +0.687
Overall: 34th +0.687
Heat Group B (Row 9)
Heat AB: 13th +5.934 (1:04.952)

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

Practice 5: 1:23.007 (17th) +3.340
Qualifying: 1:03.870 (16th) +0.661
Overall: 39th +0.860
Heat Group C (Row 10)
Heat CD: 10th +2.964 (1:03.144)

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

Practice 5: 1:21.515 (4th) +1.848
Qualifying: 1:03.712 (11th) +0.503
Overall: 35th +0.702
Heat Group C (Row 9)
Heat CD: 27th +24.835 (1:03.377) +10.000

Senior Max

Practice days left everyone questioning where the Team USA Senior squad was against the rest of the world. On a damp track, Brooks and Craig jumped toward the top of the time sheets, showing great wet weather talent on slick tires. For qualifying, the track was back to dry, and the speed was still absent, with the two placing outside the top-50 overall. Both were in the second heat for the Senior Max division on the day, with each working their way up the order. Lap times were more in-touch with the rest of the field and the leaders. Craig started 29th, gaining one spot a lap to cross 19th, moving up five spots thanks to penalties. Among those penalized for a loose front nose cone was Brooks. The Challenge of the Americas champ went from 26th to 13th in 10 laps, dropping to 24th in the final classification.

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

Practice 5: 1:16.817 (9th) +2.160
Qualifying: 1:03.001 (28th) +0.724
Overall: 59th +1.266
Heat Group C (Row 15)
Heat CD: 14th +10.283 (1:02.135)

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

Practice 5: 1:16.328 (7th) +1.671
Qualifying: 1:02.704 (22nd) +0.427
Overall: 52nd +0.969
Heat Group D (Row 13)
Heat CD: 24th +14.012 (1:02.391) +10.000

DD2 Masters

The high point on the day was the performance by Luis Schiavo. The now two-time Team USA member was able to qualify third overall and score his heat race win. Schiavo led all 10 laps, able to break away from the field for the victory. Behind him, Mike Jones found speed overnight to qualify 12th overall and kept the leaders in sight during the heat race. He lost one spot on the final lap, gaining it right back after penalties to finish sixth. Cleavelin, by RMCGF announcer Ken Walker, is the oldest driver in the field, making his first ever DD2 start. The veteran is getting up to speed, but was shuffled back in the heat race. Derek Wang was the other bullet in the DD2 Masters Team USA gun, missing the setup in qualifying to finish 25th overall after earning P1 in last year’s session. Wang drove up to 10th in his heat race while Mauel was unable to complete a lap.

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

Practice 5: 1:08.708 (4th) +0.535
Qualifying: 1:01.210 (11th) +0.357
Overall: 25th +0.575
Heat Group A (Row 7)
Heat AB: 10th +3.738 (1:01.458)

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

Practice 5: 1:07.134 (32nd) +1.586
Qualifying: 1:01.300 (17th) +0.665
Overall: 30th +0.665
Heat Group B (Row 8)
Heat AB: 35th +10 laps (N/A)

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

Practice 5: 1:10.074 (20th) +1.901
Qualifying: 1:01.439 (19th) +0.586
Overall: 39th +0.804
Heat Group C (Row 9)
Heat CD: 21st +14.793 (1:01.671)

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

Practice 5: 1:08.629 (3rd) +0.456
Qualifying: 1:01.061 (3rd) +0.208
Overall: 12th +0.426
Heat Group D (Row 3)
Heat CD: 6th +4.156 (1:01.746)

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

Practice 5: 1:06.052 (13th) +0.504
Qualifying: 1:00.726 (3rd) +0.091
Overall: 3rd +0.091
Heat Group C (Row 1)
Heat CD: 1st +0.309 (1:01.616)


The DD2 division is among the most competitive categories around the world, and Team USA is gaining as the days go on. Gore was working his way up the order during his heat race, after starting 23rd. After reaching 14th, Dev was shuffled back to 19th. Munoz closed out the action on the day, getting a great first few laps to break into the top-10. Heavy dicing regulated him back down the order, crossing the line in 18th but awarded a nose cone violation to lose five more spots.

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

Practice 5: 1:03.178 (19th) +0.778
Qualifying: 1:00.844 (23rd) +0.691
Overall: 39th +0.731
Heat Group C (Row 10)
Heat CD: 18th +13.108 (1:02.027)

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

Practice 5: 1:02.135 (8th) +0.361
Qualifying: 1:00.926 (19th) +0.813
Overall: 45th +0.813
Heat Group A (Row 12)
Heat AD: 19th +11.656 (1:01.376)

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