2019 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals – Tuesday Report

Second day of practice in the books for 14 drivers under Team USA in Italy

(Photo: Rotax-kart.com)

Two days of practice is complete for the 2019 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. The 360 drivers from nearly 60 countries completed Rounds 4, 5 and 6 of practice in the second day on track at the Circuito Internazionale Napoli. The 20th edition for the ‘Olympics of Karting’ has 14 drivers making up Team USA in Sarno, Italy, with drivers showing well in all six categories.

Event Information

Time Schedule

Live Timing


DD2: Birel ART (72 entries)

Max Hewitt (Photo: Cody Schindel – CKN)

The Lone Ranger from the Lone Star State continues to battle back from mechanical issues after the opening practice session. Hewitt is inching his way into the quicker half of the field on hand as the category continues to lower the fast time mark.

“Today we really picked up the pace. We are still behind but I feel confident going into qualifying tomorrow. It’s hard to find a good tow on the track since everyone else has teammates. Besides that everything has been running very smoothly with the help of Marjin Kremmers – 2019 FIA Karting KZ World Champion who is working under the Birel ART tent this weekend – Masters driver Derek Wang, and my mechanic Ribert Kuijpers all helping me understand the kart and the track.”

#413 – Max Hewitt

Hometown: Houston, Texas
Qualified: RTX All Star Finals (1st)
RMCGF Appearances: None

Practice 4 (odd): 30th – 59.916
Practice 5 (odd): 21st – 59.657
Practice 6 (odd): 17th – 59.585


DD2 Masters: SodiKart (72 entries)

Derek Wang (Photo: Cody Schindel – CKN)

If there is one thing that most drivers here in the United States are not used to, its running the same set of tires for six rounds of practice. That is the task these DD2 drivers are facing. The track seemed to drop off at the end of the day with the best times now below the 59-second mark for the Masters class as well. Shutt and Mauel have gotten faster, yet need to find more time to get into the 59-second bracket. Wang was able to get there, leading his group in Practice 5 before dropping time in the final session, much like everyone else at the event.

“The track has been pretty consistent with the normal progression throughout the day. Everyone is trying set up changes with the engine and chassis so we are moving up and down the order within our packs of guys running similar times. We have one set of tires for practice until qualifying. Then another set for the rest of the event. The MOJO tires have been very good.”

#507 – Tim Shutt

Hometown: Troutman, North Carolina
Qualified: Stars & Stripes Open (1st)
RMCGF Appearances: None

Practice 4 (odd): 22nd – 1:00.347
Practice 5 (odd): 29th – 1:01.353
Practice 6 (odd): 17th – 1:00.504

#514 – Derek Wang

Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Qualified: RTX All Star Finals (1st – Masters Max)
RMCGF Appearances: 8 – 2010, 2011 (DD2), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 (DD2 Masters)

Practice 4 (even): 7th – 1:00.078
Practice 5 (even): 1st – 59.820
Practice 6 (even): 7th – 1:00.210

#527 – Nathan Mauel

Hometown: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Qualified: RTX All Star Finals (1st)
RMCGF Appearances: 8 – 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017 (DD2)

Practice 4 (odd): 23rd – 1:00.364
Practice 5 (odd): 21st – 1:00.580
Practice 6 (odd): 22nd – 1:00.990


Junior: Praga (72 entries)

Luca Mars (Photo: Cody Schindel – CKN)

All three of the Junior drivers on Team USA have been inside the top-10 for their group at least once on the day. Pierson is the odd-man out, practicing in the Even group, however, on track alongside Rolison Performance Group teammate Jason Lueng. The Canadian was top-five in all three sessions on the day. Pierson found something in Practice 5 before the track was much different for the final session. Zilisch was top-seven all three rounds in the Odd group, with Mars placing top-10 at the same time.

“Today was a good day for learning. In the first session, I made some mistakes but was still among the quick drivers. In the second, I drove good with better track conditions. We tried something in the final session and it didn’t work. The track is always better for the second group on track so you can’t really compare each other. Connor and I are in the same group but we don’t run with each other because we are both trying to find drafts. The racing and times are so close. It’s going to be a difficult qualifying, but I’m going to do my best!”

#202 – Joshua Pierson

Hometown: Wilsonville, Oregon
Qualified: Stars & Stripes Trophy (1st)
RMCGF Appearances: 1 – 2017

Practice 4 (even): 14th – 1:01.254
Practice 5 (even): 7th – 1:00.669
Practice 6 (even): 23rd – 1:01.128

#205 – Luca Mars

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Qualified: Stars & Stripes Open (1st)
RMCGF Appearances: 2 – 2016 (Mini), 2018

Practice 4 (odd): 10th – 1:01.538
Practice 5 (odd): 2nd – 1:00.540
Practice 6 (odd): 9th – 1:00.926

#215 – Connor Zilisch

Hometown: Matthews, North Carolina
Qualified: RTX All Star Finals (1st)
RMCGF Appearances: None

Practice 4 (odd): 3rd – 1:01.185
Practice 5 (odd): 5th – 1:00.687
Practice 6 (odd): 7th – 1:00.886


Micro: Praga (36 entries)

Adam Brickley (Photo: Cody Schindel – CKN)

The Micro duo from Nitro Kart remain in the upper half of the field after today’s on-track sessions. Maier was a bit off early on before finding some pace in the final session to end inside the top-10. Brickly has been top-20 all day, steadily getting quicker session to session.

#4 – Adam Brickley

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Qualified: Stars & Stripes Open (1st)
RMCGF Appearances: None

Practice 4: 15th – 1:11.030
Practice 5: 16th – 1:10.204
Practice 6: 16th – 1:10.170

#9 – Ben Maier

Hometown: Stevensville, Maryland
Qualified: Stars & Stripes Open (2nd)
RMCGF Appearances: None

Practice 4: 28th – 1:11.726
Practice 5: 25th – 1:10.507
Practice 6: 8th – 1:09.792


Mini: CompKart (36 entries)

Cameron Weinberg (Photo: Cody Schindel – CKN)

As we have seen over the last two weeks at other international events, the Mini category around the world is finally catching up to the USA. The United States has led the way in terms of Cadet racing, and we are seeing the talent pool increasing and improving each year. The Mini field in Italy is tough, and after placing has high as 15th yesterday, Weinberg was not able to improve on that position today. McPherson-Wiman was not able to find the pace today, and will need more homework overnight in order to put himself in contention, racing at his first international event.

#103 – Cameron Weinberg

Hometown: Carrollton, Georgia
Qualified: Stars & Stripes Open (1st)
RMCGF Appearances: None

Practice 4: 23rd – 1:06.740
Practice 5: 19th – 1:05.958
Practice 6: 25th – 1:06.248

#109 – Alex McPherson-Wiman

Hometown: Centennial, Colorado
Qualified: Stars & Stripes Open (2nd)
RMCGF Appearances: None

Practice 4: 30th – 1:07.479
Practice 5: 35th – 1:07.408
Practice 6: 34th – 1:07.336


Senior: SodiKart (72 entries)

Jace Denmark-Gessel (Photo: Cody Schindel – CKN)

Stars & Stripes Trophy winner Norberg continued his threat as one of the top drivers in the Senior category. Norberg gained speed throughout the day, with the track falling off slightly in the final session, keeping himself inside the top-10 of the group. Keeping pace is Jace Denmark-Gessel, who did not drop off too much in the final session for his best position of the day, inside the top-10 of the Odd group. Wiley is not far off JDG, on track in the same sessions, yet needs to find a few more tenths before they head to qualifying tomorrow.

#303 – Jace Denmark-Gessel

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Qualified: Stars & Stripes Open (1st)
RMCGF Appearances: None

Practice 4 (odd): 25th – 1:00.787
Practice 5 (odd): 16th – 1:00.416
Practice 6 (odd): 8th – 1:00.460

#304 – Ryan Norberg

Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Qualified: Stars & Stripes Trophy (1st)
RMCGF Appearances: 2 – 2013, 2014 (Junior)

Practice 4 (even): 5th – 1:00.168
Practice 5 (even): 2nd – 1:00.135
Practice 6 (even): 9th – 1:00.368

#307 – Travis Wiley

Hometown: Austin, Texas
Qualified: RTX All Star Finals (replacing Nick Brueckner)
RMCGF Appearances: None

Practice 4 (odd): 26th – 1:00.804
Practice 5 (odd): 29th – 1:00.795
Practice 6 (odd): 29th – 1:00.884

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