2021 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals – Tuesday Report

Final day of practice in Bahrain for Team USA

(Photo: BRP-Rotax)

Day 2 of competition went into the books on Tuesday at the 2021 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals from the Bahrain International Karting Circuit. Following Monday’s first three rounds of practice, the 376 drivers on hand for the ‘Olympics of Karting’ completed the final three sessions of practice on Tuesday, December 14. It was a full day under the sun around the 1.4km circuit for each session, as the 14 drivers representing Team USA made final adjustments towards qualifying and the heat races.

Event Information

Time Schedule

Live Timing

Team USA / Race Coverage

Monday Team USA Report

Monday RMCGF Report

DD2: Birel ART (72 entries)

The DD2 roster for Team USA has the least amount of experience in their respective category. Ethan Ho has a few test sessions under his belt, but also has been racing shifterkart at the Senior level for the last two seasons. For the other driver – Alex McPherson-Wiman is making his Senior debut at the prestigious Rotax Grand Finals in one of the toughest categories in the world. Alex won the Junior title, but due to being 15-years of age, was not permitted to compete in the Junior category in Bahrain. Looking forward to the challenge, he is making his second straight trip to the Rotax Grand Finals.

“Today was great. DD2 is a lot faster than anything I have driven this year with only one other test session before coming to Bahrain. It’s harder to drive but I have it figured out now. The track has so much grip and it’s a lot of fun to carry the speed around these corners. The biggest adjustment is the G-load and needing to make quicker decisions due to the higher speeds. There is more fatigue with the DD2 but I am enjoying the front brakes, stopping 10-times quicker than having just rear brakes.”

#458 – Ethan Ho

Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Qualified: Rotax US Trophy Series West (2nd – Senior Max)
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Practice 4: (even) 16th – 53.211
Practice 5: (even) 16th – 53.125
Practice 6: (even) 21st – 53.123

#459 – Alex McPherson-Wiman

Hometown: Colorado
Qualified: Rotax US Trophy Series West (1st – Junior Max)
RMCGF Appearances: 1 – 2019 (Mini)

Practice 4: (odd) 29th – 53.410
Practice 5: (odd) 27th – 53.317
Practice 6: (odd) 22nd – 52.992

DD2 Master: Praga (36 entries)

Derek Wang (Photo: CKN)

Mr. Team USA Derek Wang has put himself in contention for a podium position at the Rotax Grand Finals in the past, and 2021 is no different. Coming off the success of the SKUSA SuperNationals 24 victory, third straight championship at Challenge of the Americas, Wang is looking for more hardware in a third different engine manufacturer.

“We had some up and down sessions and struggled with setup. There are a lot of drivers in the second pack with small differences translating to a lot of positions. Hopefully we have shifted the momentum in the right direction and can join the few guys at the very front.”

#522 – Derek Wang

Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Qualified: Rotax US Trophy Series West (1st – Masters Max)
RMCGF Appearances: 9 – 2010, 2011 (DD2), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 (DD2 Masters)

Practice 4: 11th – 53.708
Practice 5: 15th – 53.735
Practice 6: 5th – 53.445

#533 – John Bonanno

Hometown: Thorofare, New Jersey
Qualified: Rotax US Trophy Series East (1st – Masters Max)
RMCGF Appearances: 1 – 2018

Practice 4: 24th – 53.950
Practice 5: 12th – 53.675
Practice 6: 20th – 53.714

Senior Max: Sodikart (72 entries)

Justin White

While Macy Williams is experiencing her first Rotax Grand Finals, this is the third trip for fellow Senior Max driver Justin White. A driver who earned a ticket in 2020 before the event was cancelled, White is making his first start in the Senior category at the Olympics of Karting.

“I am glad to have the opportunity to represent Team USA here in Bahrain. This event is sure to test my abilities in the Senior Max category. Yesterday’s pace looked promising, and after three sessions, our first day performance left us feeling pretty optimistic for day two. Today turned out to be a bit more difficult. At the close of our morning session, we identified some challenges we needed to overcome. These challenges, coupled with the ever evolving track conditions, and tight competitive lap times, we found ourselves left struggling to keep up with the setup progression on the day I’m confident with our plan for tomorrow’s qualifying.”

#331 – Justin White

Hometown: Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania
Qualified: Rotax US Trophy Series East (1st – Senior Max)
RMCGF Appearances: 2 – 2013 (Mini), 2018 (Junior)

Practice 4: (odd) 22nd – 53.941
Practice 5: (odd) 23rd – 54.063
Practice 6: (odd) 30th – 54.082

#368 – Macy Williams

Hometown: Littleton, Colorado
Qualified: Rotax US Trophy Series West (1st – Senior Max)
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Practice 4: (even) 27th – 54.257
Practice 5: (even) 21st – 54.323
Practice 6: (even) 26th – 54.110

Junior Max: Sodikart (72 entries)

Cooper O’Clair (Photo: CKN)

Team USA has three victories at the Rotax Grand Finals, with the first coming in the Junior Max division in 2013 on USA soil with Juan Manuel Correa. The lone driver representing the USA this year is Cooper O’Clair. The Arizona driver has raced across the country in all engine platforms. This is his first international experience.

“Good day today all together. I struggled with track position. The draft is helpful but the way the track is or the other drivers I’m in the session with, we end up not being able to carry decent momentum through the corners. We know our pace is strong and what we need to execute correctly for tomorrow. I’m really excited to experience such an event like this and hoping to carry momentum forward from here into the 2022 season.”

#260 – Cooper O’Clair

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Qualified: Rotax US Trophy Series West (2nd – Junior Max)
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Practice 4: (even) 10th – 54.751
Practice 5: (even) 26th – 54.948
Practice 6: (even) 30th – 55.218

Mini Max: Praga (72 entries)

Gage Korn (Photo: CKN)

One of the standout performances over the two days of practice is the pace set by Team USA driver Gage Korn. One of five drivers representing Team USA, Korn has placed in the top-10 of the even group in all six sessions. Tuesday was his best results yet, placing no worse than sixth and nearly the 58-flat mark on the day. We spoke with Gage’s father Henry Korn about his progress thus far.

“It was all in the prep for this race. He did a million laps on the sim, trained in the Praga kart over the winter last year and a ton of laps before we traveled here to Bahrain. He knows the tires and we are very helpful to have Greg Welch of Forward Direction Motorsports here. Gage has been by himself every single session, so the draft or track position has not been a factor.”

#148 – Kyle Drysdale

Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona
Qualified: Rotax US Trophy Series West (1st – PKRA Finale)
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Practice 4: (even) 16th – 58.909
Practice 5: (even) 15th – 58.743
Practice 6: (even) 19th – 58.856

#158 – Gage Korn

Hometown: Aurora, Colorado
Qualified: Rotax US Trophy Series West (1st – Mini Max)
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Practice 4: (even) 4th – 58.484
Practice 5: (even) 2nd – 58.260
Practice 6: (even) 6th – 58.533

#159 – Alexander Jacoby

Hometown: Washington DC
Qualified: Rotax US Trophy Series East (1st – Mini Max – 2020)
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Practice 4: (odd) 23rd – 58.993
Practice 5: (odd) 24th – 58.842
Practice 6: (odd) 33rd – 59.203

#164 – Jackson Wolny

Hometown: Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Qualified: RTX Karting
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Practice 4: (even) 13th – 58.778
Practice 5: (even) 22nd – 58.918
Practice 6: (even) 22nd – 58.900

#169 – Rayan Mneimneh

Hometown: N/A
Qualified: Wildcard
RMCGF Appearances: 1 – 2018 (Micro)

Practice 4: (odd) 34th – 59.450
Practice 5: (odd) 35th – 59.726
Practice 6: (odd) 28th – 59.068

Micro Max: Birel ART (36 entries)

The youngest category of Micro Max was introduced in 2016 at the Rotax Grand Finals. USA has promoted the class well before then and has helped to produce many of the top karters and professional motorsport drivers from the USA in the last decade. It is also the opportunity to begin a karting career and for those earning a ticket, race at the Olympics of Karting. Rist began karting just over a year ago and is already racing on the world’s stage. His parents provided us with thoughts on today’s sessions.

“Today was good but he did not make much progress as he’d hope for. After a solid session in the morning, he ran into a lot of traffic in the second session. The third session was marred by spinning out trying to avoid a kart in front of him. He continues to have a positive attitude moving forward and motivated going into qualifying tomorrow.

#21 – Sebastian Rist

Hometown: Crownsville, Maryland
Qualified: Rotax US Trophy Series East (2nd – Micro Max)
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Practice 4: 19th – 1:02.346
Practice 5: 28th – 1:02.755
Practice 6: 32nd – 1:02.874

E20: Sodikart (18 entries)

Ellis Spiezia (Photo: CKN)

One of the eye-catching categories of the event is the E20 division for the all-electric karts. This class is an official division for the first time at the Rotax Grand Finals with New Jersey driver Ellis Spiezia representing the USA.

“Sessions were great today. Tire wear is the number one issue as well as being first on track every day. The sand and dust is insane! The first sector is super fun and you can carry a lot of speed. It’s like a roller coaster. Everyone is experimenting with boost in different sectors too, which will make for interesting races. The E20s are pitted in the main tent along the front wall. It’s been cool to show them off and talk to people about the experience with them.

#704 – Ellis Spiezia

Hometown: Hoboken, New Jersey
Qualified: N/A
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Practice 4: 6th – 54.270
Practice 5: 8th – 54.381
Practice 6: 12th – 54.379

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