2022 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals – Wednesday Report

Heat races underway with opening round completed in Portugal

Kai Johnson (Photo: Race Rotax - CKN)

The third day of competition at the 2022 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals was put into the books on Wednesday at the Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão. Weather has still been a factor for the 394 drivers from around the world with early rain and then late rain to change up the conditions around the 1.531km circuit. The 11 drivers representing Team USA at the ‘Olympics of Karting’ took to the Portugal facility for the qualifying sessions in Junior and Senior Max, with completing the opening round of heat races on Wednesday.

Tuesday Report

Monday Report

Event Information

Time Schedule

Live Timing


DD2 Masters: – Praga (36 entries)

It was a safe opening heat race for Wang, who started sixth but fell back to ninth in the opening laps. He managed to avoid any trouble, crossing the line in sixth but gaining one position after penalties.

#523 – Derek Wang

Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Qualified: US Trophy Series Champion
RMCGF Appearances: 10 – 2010, 2011 (DD2), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 (DD2 Masters)

Qualified: 6th
Warm-up: No Time
Heat 1: 5th +6.092


Senior Max: – Sodikart (72 entries)

Both Senior drivers are starting the event on the positive side of the 72 drivers in the field. Due to changing conditions, the 101% rule went into effect, and the overall qualifying order was based on where drivers finished in their group. Thus, Fox was 25th overall and Ho in 37th. They are racing in the same heat group, and both received pushback bumper penalties in their opening run. They crossed the line 11th and 15th, improving their position however ended up falling back because of the five-second penalty for pushback.

#327 – Aidan Fox

Hometown: Redding, Connecticut
Qualified: US Trophy Final – 1st
RMCGF Appearances: 1 – 2017 (Mini)

Warm-up (odd): 8th – 1:11.410 +1.131
Qualifying (odd): 13th – 1:00.032 +0.399
Overall: 25th
Heat Group: A (Row 7)
Heat AvsB: 16th +9.674 (+5-seconds PBB)

#329 – Ethan Ho

Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Qualified: US Trophy Series – 2nd place
RMCGF Appearances: 1 – 2021 (DD2)

Warm-up (odd): 12th – 1:11.704 +1.425
Qualifying (odd): 19th – 1:00.167 +0.534
Overall: 37th
Heat Group: A (Row 10)
Heat AvsB: 19th +11.233 (+5-seconds PBB)


Junior Max – Sodikart (72 entries)

Two of the three Team USA drivers were in the upper half of the Junior field after qualifying, which also had to use the 101% rule to finalize the order after the two groups qualified. US Trophy Final winner O’Clair moved forward in AvsB to cross the line sixth, earning a spot after penalties. Ortiz climbed up to the 10th position until a pushback bumper penalty took away all the positions gained and more in his first heat race at the Grand Finals. Hernandez was shuffled around in the first half of the race but ended up gaining four positions after eight laps of CvsD heat race.

#212 – Jorge Ortiz

Hometown: St. Cloud, Florida
Qualified: Rotax Winter Series
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Warm-up (even): 4th – 1:16.589 +0.260
Qualifying (even): 15th – 1:01.003 +0.450
Overall: 30th
Heat Group: B (Row 8)
Heat AvsB: 20th +11.171 (+5-seconds PBB)

#233 – Cooper O’Clair

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Qualified: US Trophy Final – 1st
RMCGF Appearances: 1 (2021)

Warm-up (odd): 11th – 1:20.525 +1.922
Qualifying (odd): 13th – 1:00.963 +0.526
Overall: 25th
Heat Group: A (Row 7)
Heat AvsB: 5th +5.384

#234 – Ben Hernandez

Hometown: Massapequa Park, New York
Qualified: US Trophy Series – 2nd place
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Warm-up (even): 32nd – 1:20.859 +4.530
Qualifying (even): 32nd – 1:01.700 +1.147
Overall: 64th
Heat Group: D (Row 16)
Heat CvsD: 29th +15.743


Mini Max – Praga (72 entries)

Johnson has led the way for Team USA through the opening days in Mini. He kept his nose clean through his opening heat race CvsD, holding the fourth position. Korn found the speed that was missing with Rotax officials repairing an issue with the carburetor overnight to end warm-up not far off Johnson’s pace. He gained eight spots on track and one more after penalties to finish just outside the top-10 in his first heat. Fion Shi held his position for much of the AvsB heat race until the final lap when he was shuffled down to 18th, gaining one spot after penalties.

#124 – Gage Korn

Hometown: Aurora, Colorado
Qualified: US Trophy Final – 1st
RMCGF Appearances: 1 (2021)

Qual. Overall: 40th
Heat Group: D (Row 10)
Warm-up (even): 4th – 1:04.953
Heat CvsD: 11th +5.677

#131 – Fion Shi

Hometown: Mount Clair, New Jersey
Qualified: US Trophy Series – 2nd place
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Qual. Overall: 17th
Heat Group: A (Row 5)
Warm-up (odd): 17th – 1:06.202 +1.097
Heat AvsB: 17th +13.617

#132 – Kai Johnson

Hometown: Gulfport, Florida
Qualified: Rotax Winter Series
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Qual. Overall: 8th
Heat Group: D (Row 2)
Warm-up (even): 2nd – 1:04.749 +0.062
Heat CvsD: 4th +1.067


Micro Max – Birel ART (32 entries)

Sammut, who had engine issues in qualifying and was unable to complete a lap, charged his way forward in the only heat race of the day for Micro. He was able to gain 19 spots in eight laps, and show similar pace to those at the front. Kanjanapitak was able to advance in his heat race, up five spots as he continues to improve his pace over the event as well.

#14 – Luke Kanjanapitak

Hometown: Miami, Florida
Qualified: Rotax Winter Series
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Qualified: 29th
Warm-up: 29th – 1:10.260 +1.354
Heat 1: 24th +14.076

#17 – Marco Sammut

Hometown: Locust Valley, New York
Qualified: US Trophy Final – 1st
RMCGF Appearances: 0

Qualifyied: 36th
Warm-up: 23rd – 1:10.012 +1.106
Heat 1: 17th +10.474

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