2022 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals – Thursday Report

Final rounds of heat races set the stage for Prefinal races ahead with Wang, Fox, O’Clair, Johnson and Sammut leading Team USA

Marco Sammut (Photo: Race Rotax - CKN)

Day four of the 2022 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals are in the books with the final rounds of heat races contested at the Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão on Thursday, November 24. As the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, 11 drivers carried the USA flag with them into competition, featuring changing weather conditions and fierce challenge from the 394 drivers from around the world. The stage is set now for the five categories Team USA is competing within to conduct their Prefinal races on Friday, which will determine those who make the starting fields in the 2022 main events, and those who see their Rotax Grand Finals experience come to an end.

Wednesday Report

Tuesday Report

Monday Report

Event Information

Time Schedule

Live Timing

DD2 Masters: – Praga (36 entries)

Keeping toward the front through the heat races is key, especially with only two rounds for the DD2 Masters class. US Rotax Trophy Series champion Wang has stayed toward the front of the field through qualifying and now the two heat races. He ran as high as seventh through the second heat, crossing the line 10th and gaining one spot after penalties. Wang maintains the sixth starting spot for the Prefinal where finishing in the top-10 will be the focus.

#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: 15th – 1:12.885 +1.365
Heat 2: 9th +4.873
Heat Points: 6th – 14 points

Senior Max: – Sodikart (72 entries)

Both Team USA drivers have not been able to improve their position from qualifying. Each have recorded finishes within the top-20 in all three heat races, however, both are on the bubble when it comes to transferring to the main event. Fox bounced around in the first heat, gaining a few more positions after penalties, including from Ethan Ho who was one spot ahead at the checkered flag, but suffered a pushback bumper penalty. Fox was up to 11th at one point but ended up losing five spots by the checkered flag. Nineteenth was the highest Ethan drove up to and only finished 20th. Only 15 points separate the two heading into the Prefinals, meaning Fox must maintain position while Ethan needs to make gains in his Prefinal in order to stay above the 36th transfer position.

#327 – Aidan Fox

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

Qual. Overall: 25th
Heat Group: A (Row 7)
Warm-up (odd): 13th – 1:14.633 +0.942
Heat AvsC: 12th +13.110
Heat AvsD: 16th +7.690
Heat Points: 26th – 44 points (Prefinal B)

#329 – Ethan Ho

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

Qual. Overall: 37th
Heat Group: A (Row 10)
Warm-up (odd): 24th – 1:15.760 +2.069
Heat AvsC: 20th +17.802 (+5-seconds PBB)
Heat AvsD: 20th +8.955
Heat Points: 37th – 59 points (Prefinal A)

Junior Max – Sodikart (72 entries)

Two of the three Junior drivers for Team USA are on the verge of transferring to the main events on Saturday. Cooper O’Clair is in the best position despite a rough opening heat race on the day, getting shuffled outside the top-20. He responded with drive nearly into the top-10 to close out his heat races, only to lose valuable positions to a pushback bumper penalty. He will now start Prefinal from 15th with the goal of finishing above that mark. Jorge Ortiz is on the bubble, sitting 35th in points. He had a stellar opening run to begin the day and even better provisional result of 7th in his final run, however, a pushback bumper penalty cost him 13 positions, adding 13 points to his total. He will start in the same Prefinal A, but from 18th. Ben Hernandez is on the outside looking in, set to start the same Prefinal from 27th. Sitting outside the top-40 in points, Hernandez will need a lot of help to transfer to the main event. He did record his best heat race result in the final run, placing 19th up 12 spots.

#212 – Jorge Ortiz

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

Qual. Overall: 30th
Heat Group: B (Row 8)
Warm-up (even): 6th – 1:14.179 +0.546
Heat BvsD: 12th +7.919
Heat BvsC: 20th +10.322 (+5-seconds PBB)
Heat Points: 35th – 52 points (Prefinal A)

#233 – Cooper O’Clair

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

Qual. Overall: 25th
Heat Group: A (Row 7)
Warm-up (odd): 22nd – 1:14.149 +1.873
Heat AvsC: 25th +13.889
Heat AvsD: 17th +11.427 (+5-seconds PBB)
Heat Points: 29th – 47 points (Prefinal A)

#234 – Ben Hernandez

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

Qual. Overall: 64th
Heat Group: D (Row 16)
Warm-up (even): 30th – 1:15.597 +1.964
Heat BvsD: 26th +16.818
Heat AvsD: 19th +12.775
Heat Points: 53rd – 73 points (Prefinal A)

Mini Max – Praga (72 entries)

There could be a possibility of all three Team USA drivers in Mini to transfer through to the Final on Saturday. The only blemish for Kai Johnson was his final heat. After two top-five results, Johnson crossed the line in seventh, but a pushback bumper penalty classified him in 13th to put him seventh on the grid for Prefinal A. Gage Korn gained 17 positions over the 12 laps of racing, finishing inside the top-15 in both to help put him now 18th overall in points, starting ninth for Prefinal B. Fion Shi, the US Trophy Series qualifier, is just outside, looking in. A costly pushback bumper penalty in his opening heat races cost him eight spots while he was shuffled all back 18 positions in his final heat. Sitting 39th in points, he will need to make an advancement in Prefinal A in order to qualify for the main event.

#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): 18th – 1:18.433 +1.876
Heat BvsD: 11th +6.403
Heat AvsD: 12th +4.871
Heat Points: 18th – 34 points (Prefinal B)

#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): 13th – 1:18.358 +1.371
Heat AvsC: 20th +11.255 (+5-seconds PBB)
Heat AvsD: 27th +9.958
Heat Points: 39th – 64 points (Prefinal A)

#132 – Kai Johnson

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

Qual. Overall: 8th
Heat Group: D (Row 2)
Warm-up (even): 11th – 1:18.018 +1.461
Heat BvsD: 5th +0.516
Heat AvsD: 15th +6.598 (+5-seconds PBB)
Heat Points: 13th – 24 points (Prefinal A)

Micro Max – Birel ART (32 entries)

After recording no time in qualifying due to the engine unable to refire after leaving the grid, Marco Sammut has done what he must to put himself into contention. Two 17th place finishes in the two six-lap heat races had advanced him to 14th in the points to start outside row 7 for the Prefinal. A pushback bumper penalty dropped Luke Kanjanapitak outside the top-30, set to start the Prefinal from inside row 15.

#14 – Luke Kanjanapitak

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

Qualified: 29th
Warm-up: 29th – 1:23.655 +2.826
Heat 2: 31st +32.600 (+5-seconds PBB)
Heat Points: 29th – 55 points

#17 – Marco Sammut

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

Qualifyied: 36th
Warm-up: 13th – 1:22.145 +1.316
Heat 2: 17th +14.062
Heat Points: 14th – 34 points

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