2021 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals – Thursday Report

Prefinal grids set following last heat races conducted in Bahrain

Gage Korn is the top Mini Max driver under Team USA, sitting 11th after three rounds of heat races (Photo: CKN)

Day four of the 2021 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals were held at the Bahrain International Karting Circuit on Thursday, December 16. It was the second day of wheel-to-wheel racing for the seven divisions competing, featuring 376 drivers from all over the globe. Every category contested their second heat race, with those categories with 72 drivers holding a third round of heats. Points from those heat races will set the grids for the Prefinals under the lights on Saturday, with Micro, DD2 Master and E20 grids set by just the two heat races they conducted. Points from the Prefinals will be added to those from the Heats, providing the final rankings to the main events on Saturday. Several drivers of the 14 representing Team USA had a good second day of racing to help position themselves further up the order heading into the ‘Frantic Friday’.

Event Information

Time Schedule

Live Timing


Team USA / Race Coverage

Wednesday Team USA Report

Wednesday RMCGF Report

Tuesday Team USA Report

Tuesday RMCGF Report

Monday Team USA Report

Monday RMCGF Report

Team Canada Coverage – CanadianKartingNews.com


DD2: Birel ART (72 entries)

Ethan Ho did what he needed to do on the day, maintain position. He grabbed one spot in Heat 2 but slipped back to seventh in Heat 3. Unfortunately, a pushback bumper penalty dropped him down to 14, costing him 7 points. It only dropped him two spots in the Heat Points total, as he will go from 7th in Prefinal A. Alex McPherson-Wiman was making early progress in his Heat 2 run until contact took him out of the race after three laps. He made up a couple spots in the closer but added more positions after penalties. Sitting 62nd, he needs a lot of help to move up into the top-36 to qualify for the main event.

#458 – Ethan Ho

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

Qualifying: (even) 5th – 52.410
Overall: 10th +0.329
Heat Group: B (Row 3)

Warm-up: (even) 4th – 53.148
Heat 2: (BvsD) 5th +4.309
Heat 3: (BvsC) 14th +9.566 (PBB)
Heat Points: 13th – 25 points (Prefinal A)

#459 – Alex McPherson-Wiman

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

Qualifying: (odd) 30th – 53.088
Overall: 59th +1.007
Heat Group: C (Row 15)

Warm-up: (odd) 17th – 53.816
Heat 2: (AvsC) 33rd +6 Laps (PBB)
Heat 3: (BvsC) 23rd +13.789
Heat Points: 62nd – 83 points (Prefinal B)


DD2 Master: Praga (36 entries)

With only two heat races for the DD2 Master class, a lot of emphasis was on not losing positions for the two USA drivers. Wang pulled off early in warm-up after nearly getting taken out. In the only race on the day for the class, he fell back to ninth and fought back to fourth. At the checkered, he lost two spots to finish sixth, moving up one spot after penalties to start the Prefinal from the outside of Row 2. For Bonanno, he went back to his baseline setup from the opening day and was able to make progress in the heat race. He was up to 15th at one point until falling back to 18th at the checkered. A pushback bumper penalty dropped him further, putting Bonanno on the outside of Row 13 for the Prefinal.

#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)

Qualifying: 6th – 53.201

Warm-up: 28th – 55.149
Heat 2: 5th +5.134
Heat Points: 4th – 10 points

#533 – John Bonanno

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

Qualifying: 22nd – 53.659

Warm-up: 12th – 54.025
Heat 2: 24th +16.295 (PBB)
Heat Points: 26th – 50 points


Senior Max: Sodikart (72 entries)

Both drivers in the Senior Max class for Team USA gained some ground on the day. White advanced in both heat races, climbing up eight spots to 17th before pushback bumper penalty relegated him back to 25th. It was a near match in the third heat for White, finishing inside the top-20. A great start in Heat 2 for Williams put her inside the top-20. Contact on lap two put her dead last in the third heat, including a pushback bumper penalty.

#331 – Justin White

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

Qualifying: (odd) 25th – 53.782
Overall: 49th +0.490
Heat Group: A (Row 13)

Warm-up: (odd) 16th – 54.358
Heat 2: (AvsC) 25th +17.873 (PBB)
Heat 3: (AvsD) 18th +12.701
Heat Points: 34th – 55 points (Prefinal B)

#368 – Macy Williams

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

Qualifying: (even) 26th – 53.990
Overall: 52nd +0.698
Heat Group: D (Row 13)

Warm-up: (even) 7th – 54.457
Heat 2: (BvsD) 17th +11.282
Heat 3: (AvsD) 35th +24.584 (PBB)
Heat Points: 40th – 62 points (Prefinal B)


Junior Max: Sodikart (72 entries)

Top-20 results in the final two heat races for the lone Team USA driver in the Junior Max division. Cooper gained nine spots in the opening heat on the day, gaining one spot after penalties. The third heat of the event was another stellar drive up four spots, gaining several more after the stewards adjusted the results. As the points sit now, O’Clair qualifies for the main event by three positions. He will have to maintain or gain spots in order to hold a grid position.

#260 – Cooper O’Clair

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

Qualifying: (even) 28th – 54.714
Overall: 55th +0.539
Heat Group: C (Row 14)

Warm-up: (even) 27th – 55.774
Heat 2: (AvsC) 17th +9.864
Heat 3: (BvsC) 18th +6.019
Heat Points: 33rd – 51 points (Prefinal A)


Mini Max: Praga (72 entries)

Four of the five Team USA Mini Max drivers are in position to make the main event. Two are looking to have a secured spot locked up based on not losing spots in the Prefinal. Gage Korn leads the way, record two more top-10 results to start Prefinal A from the sixth position. Kyle Drysdale has been consistent across the board, moving into the top-15 for both of his heat races on the day to improve eight positions overall, starting in Prefinal A in the 12th spot. Jackson Wolny and Rayan Mneimneh are on the verge of breaking into the top-36 overall to make the main event on Saturday. Wolny’s heat points position could have been better if not for a in his third heat after recording his best result in Heat #2. He starts Prefinal B from 20th, needing to gain spots in order to advance up the point rankings. Mneimneh rebounded from a tough opening heat race, recording two top-20 finishes. That helped him advance up 12 spots from qualifying, needing to follow Wolny forward in Prefinal B. Alexander Jacoby is on the outside looking in, sitting back beyond the top-65. Pushback bumper penalty and a DNF did not help in his effort to make the main event on Saturday. He will start Prefinal B from 34th.

#148 – Kyle Drysdale

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

Qualifying: (even) 16th – 58.595
Overall: 31st +0.356
Heat Group: C (Row 8)

Warm-up: (even) 18th – 59.106
Heat 2: 14th +8.340
Heat 3: 11th +4.240
Heat Points: 23rd – 41 points (Prefinal A)

#158 – Gage Korn

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

Qualifying: (even) 9th – 58.500
Overall: 17th +0.261
Heat Group: A (Row 5)

Warm-up: (even) 14th – 58.923
Heat 2: (AvsC) 5th +2.489
Heat 3: (AvsD) 10th +3.760
Heat Points: 11th – 24 points (Prefinal A)

#159 – Alexander Jacoby

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

Qualifying: (odd) 33rd – 59.373
Overall: 66th +1.134
Heat Group: B (Row 17)

Warm-up: (odd) 32nd – 59.918
Heat 2: 31st +39.907 (PBB)
Heat 3: 36th +2 Laps
Heat Points: 68th – 96 points (Prefinal B)

#164 – Jackson Wolny

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

Qualifying: (even) 19th – 58.612
Overall: 37th +0.373
Heat Group: A (Row 10)

Warm-up: (even) 31st – 59.751
Heat 2: (AvsC) 11th +5.309
Heat 3: (AvsD) 36th +6 Laps (PBB)
Heat Points: 40th – 63 points (Prefinal B)

#169 – Rayan Mneimneh

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

Qualifying: (odd) 28th – 59.034
Overall: 56th +0.795
Heat Group: D (Row 19)

Warm-up: (odd) 28th – 59.441
Heat 2: (BvsD) 15th +7.559
Heat 3: (AvsD) 19th +8.617
Heat Points: 44th – 67 points (Prefinal B)


Micro Max: Birel ART (36 entries)

The Micro Max division has seen a lot of mixing up between the two heat races. Team USA driver Sebastian Rist was able to advance 11 spots in the opening heat yesterday. Today, he showed speed in the warm-up with top-10 pace but fell back four spots in the heat race. Despite that, he will start the Prefinal from Row 9 for a chance to move further up in the main event grid.

#21 – Sebastian Rist

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

Qualifying: 23rd – 1:02.202

Warm-up: 10th – 1:02.292
Heat 2: 27th +13.553
Heat Points: 17th – 39 points


E20: Sodikart (18 entries)

Spiezia only had the one heat race as well in the new E20 category making its RMCGF debut as an official class. He took only one lap in warm-up with only one set of tires allotted for the drivers after qualifying. Tire management is key for the heavier E20 karts. He didn’t have the best start and lost two positions on the opening lap, and later, had another driver push him wide in one of the corners. He went on to keep himself inside the top-10, and will start the Prefinal from Row 4.

#704 – Ellis Spiezia

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

Qualifying: 7th – 53.822

Warm-up: N/A
Heat 2: 10th +8.620
Heat Points: 7th – 14 points

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