2016 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals: Team USA Thursday Report

Schiavo remains in hunt as does Mini and Micro contingent in Italy

(Photo: Rotax-Kart.com)

Rotax Grand Finals 2016 logoA world championship is bringing the best of every corner of the world together, and putting them on-track against one another to decide the winner. The Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals is a week long chess game in six categories with the another scene completed Thursday. Heat races were completed at the Circuito Internazionale Napoli in Sarno, Italy today, reorganizing the fields heading into the final two days of competition. A wet track welcomed the 360 drivers in the morning, with the warm-up sessions the first time drivers took to the 1.547km circuit on wet Mojo tires. The track began drying as the heat races began, with a few Junior drivers taking the gamble in the second grouping before the Senior groups began a full day on dry Mojo rubber. Heat #2 and #3 were contested on the day (just one heat for Micro and Mini), setting up the line up for Friday’s Prefinal events, which will decide who transfers into Championship Saturday Finals. Below is a recap of the Team USA performances on the day.

Micro Max

Team USA remains in the hunt for the first Micro Max world title. Egozi retained his fourth position after a hard-fought six-lap battle while LaRoque drove up to 10th. Both were in the same race group for the second half of the race. LaRoque advanced up to fourth at one point, but was shuffled back. This opened Egozi to take the position, putting both inside the top-10 once again. The results have moved LaRoque up to eighth for the Prefinal with Egozi starting from outside row two.

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

Warm-Up: 1:29.153 (1st)
Grid: 4th
Heat 2: 4th +2.003 (1:11.206)
Classification: 2+4=6 (P4)

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

Warm-Up: 1:31.011 (21st)
Grid: 16th
Heat 2: 10th +6.846 (1:11.878)
Classification: 8+10=18 (P8)

Mini Max

It could end being two drivers from Team USA fighting for the Prefinal lead on Friday. Arias Deukmedjian has been at the front all event, and was in the hunt once again Thursday for the heat race. He ran as high as second, holding on to third in the end. The two results combined gives him the inside row two starting position. Mars completed his first step in recovering from a poor qualifying effort. After driving up to 18th, Mars advanced to 14th today, helping him to move from 36th to 14th for a grid position tomorrow. Torgerson has not yet been able to find the speed similar to his Team USA teammates, and will go from 24th in the Prefinal.

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

Warm-Up: 1:27.055 (16th)
Grid: 36th
Heat 2: 14th +6.856 (1:08.786)
Classification: 18+14=32 (P14)

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

Warm-Up: 1:27.922 (27th)
Grid: 18th
Heat 2: 26th +12.479 (1:09.524)
Classification: 26+26=52 (24)

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

Warm-Up: 1:27.009 (15th)
Grid: 7th
Heat 2: 3rd +1.560 (1:08.409)
Classification: 2+3=5 (P3)

Junior Max

Ramirez continued his bid toward reaching the Junior Max podium for a second straight year. The 2015 runner-up drove his way to two top-12 finishes after starting 20th in each race. Even a 10-second nose cone violation during the wet opening heat on the day could not keep him from improving on the poor qualifying effort. d’Orlando also improved his position in his two heat races. The New York driver finished 11th and 17th to move himself into the top-25 overall. Tavella gambled in the opening heat, electing to go to dry Mojo tires. The move would have worked if the race was longer, and the former Challenge of the Americas Mini Max champion has work to do in his Prefinal tomorrow. Brueckner went the wrong way, dropping one spot in his first heat, and five in his second.

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

Warm-Up: 1:22.165 (6th)
Heat Group A (Row 11)
Heat AC: 11th +21.933 (1:18.120)
Heat AD: 17th +9.789 (1:03.944)
Classification: 14+11+17=41 (P23)

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

Warm-Up: 1:24.539 (17th)
Heat Group B (Row 9)
Heat BD: 26th +25.439 (1:11.643) +10.000
Heat BC: 30th +17.039 (1:04.133)
Classification: 24+26+30=80 (P60)

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

Warm-Up: 1:22.032 (4th)
Heat Group C (Row 10)
Heat AC: 7th +18.449 (1:17.003) +10.000
Heat BC: 12th +5.593 (1:03.465)
Classification: 8+7+12=27 (P14)

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

Warm-Up: 1:24.293 (23rd)
Heat Group C (Row 9)
Heat AC: 19th +27.725 (1:19.279)
Heat BC: 23rd +13.158 (1:03.401)
Classification: 27+19+23=69 (P42)

Senior Max

Craig and Brooks know how to race, and they have had to put that to the test this week in Italy. Poor qualifying efforts put them toward the back of the field overall, and outside the top-20 in each of their heat races. Craig was on a charge on the drying track in his first heat, advancing every lap to end up 10th, gaining 20 positions in 10 laps. The second was not as spectacular, but an improvement up to 21st. Brooks recorded the lucky 13 in each of his races after starting from row 13. Each have shown the pace to run with the leaders and now classified inside the top-30 overall, may have a chance to move forward in their Prefinal efforts.

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

Warm-Up: 1:26.536 (27th)
Heat Group C (Row 15)
Heat AC: 10th +11.877 (1:03.790)
Heat BC: 21st +10.580 (1:02.036)
Classification: 14+10+21=45 (P26)

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

Warm-Up: 1:27.939 (32nd)
Heat Group D (Row 13)
Heat BD: 13th +11.241 (1:02.963)
Heat AD: 13th +6.070 (1:02.140)
Classification: 24+13+13=50 (P29)

DD2 Masters

It was an error-free day for Schiavo as he remains the top dog in the DD2 Masters fight. Starting from outside row one in both heats, Luis kept it clean to the end of each 10-lap battles to finish fourth and third. Preliminary results have him second overall in the qualifying heat classifications, which should put him on the pole position for Pre Final B. Four-time Team USA member Jones is next in line, keeping himself within reach of the leaders throughout the week. The Challenge of the Americas Masters Max champion just needs to find one or two more tenths in his pace to be able to battle with the top drivers thus far. Wang suffered his worst result of the week, having a broken exhaust during a red flag incident in the Avs.C race. He was unable to continue once the race was restarted. He fought back, driving up to ninth to end his heat races, and appears to be somewhere in the top-30 heading into Friday. Cleavelin is showing the experience he has, getting faster every session. Billy was climbing his way forward in his opening heat race today, until contact put him on the sidelines four laps early. He bounced back, advancing to 13th. He along with Mauel will transfer into the Pre Finals tomorrow, needing more work to finish inside the top-17 in either race.

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

Warm-Up: 1:24.479 (21st)
Heat Group A (Row 7)
Heat AC: 33rd +10 laps (N/A)
Heat AD: 9th +2.783 (1:01.560)
Classification: 8+33+9=52

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

Warm-Up: 1:24.737 (24th)
Heat Group B (Row 8)
Heat BD: 21st +15.428 (1:02.462)
Heat BC: 18th +12.509 (1:02.040)
Classification: 35+21+18=74

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

Warm-Up: 1:23.975 (19th)
Heat Group C (Row 9)
Heat AC: 32nd +4 laps (1:03.120)
Heat BC: 13th +8.656 (1:01.894)
Classification: 21+32+13=66

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

Warm-Up: 1:21.910 (6th)
Heat Group D (Row 3)
Heat BD: 6th +2.691 (1:01.940)
Heat AD: 14th +6.411 (1:02.218)
Classification: 6+6+14=26

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

Warm-Up: 1:22.122 (4th)
Heat Group C (Row 1)
Heat AC: 4th +1.537 (1:02.175)
Heat BC: 3rd +1.352 (1:01.710)
Classification: 1+4+3=8


Neither of the two DD2 drivers on Team USA had a stellar day, however, the competition level in the category is extremely high. Munoz dropped four spots and maintained position on the day, set to start his Prefinal from outside the top-10 rows. Gore was part of an opening lap, opening corner wreck in his second heat, bending up the front end to make it impossible to continue on, recording a DNF. It is not looking promising for having a Team USA driver in the Final on Championship Saturday.

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

Warm-Up: 1:22.850 (18th)
Heat Group C (Row 10)
Heat AC: 24th +14.296 (1:01.577)
Heat BC: 20th +8.567 (1:01.456)
Classification: 23+24+20=67 (P44)

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

Warm-Up: 1:22.015 (12th)
Heat Group A (Row 12)
Heat AC: 17th +11.061 (1:01.680)
Heat AD: 35th +10 laps (N/A)
Classification: 19+17+35=71 (P50)

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