July 22, 2010 - OGP - US Rotax Grand Nationals Report

The Ocala Gran Prix/Tony Kart race team was front and center in New Castle, Indiana as they worked hard all weekend long to help their drivers succeed. When the dust had settled, DD2 driver Cody Hodgson walked away with the national championship and will join Florida Winter Tour champion Nick Neri in Italy for the Rotax World Finals later this year. Ocala Gran Prix also had the opportunity to work with Kosmic driver Daniel Formal and the team gelled nicely in two days of action to garner a third place podium result and a spot on America’s team.

With a testing weekend planned prior to the event, twelve Ocala Gran Prix drivers and the crew of more than ten travelled north to New Castle Motorsports Park to tame the mile long facility. With some quick times put down by all drivers, it looked as if the weekend would be another dominant one by the OGP crew.

“The weekend test went well and Wednesday’s official event practice was great for most drivers,” expressed OGP President Jorge Arellano. “Our junior drivers were well up to speed as both Ashley Rogero and Oliver Askew topped the time sheets on occasion. Jack West was also on his game as he was in the top five all week long and showed the speed to run with the front runners. Racing has its fair hand in luck and some of our drivers had some good luck, while others struggled with the bad luck.”

Disaster struck for 14-year-old Nick Neri in Wednesday morning’s opening practice as a freak accident would see the youngster break his arm as he looked to take control of the Rotax Senior class. Neri was sent to see the IZOD IndyCar Series doctor as he required immediate surgery that saw a plate and seven screws inserted into his arm. Now a cheerleader for the rest of the week, Neri was back at the track for the remainder of the event helping the younger team drivers with driving lines and race craft.

The surprise of the weekend for the Ocala Gran Prix squad would have to be female driver Ashley Rogero. After competing in Mini Max and Cadet all season, Rogero was battling with the junior big dogs and holding her own as the week went on. After topping one of the timed sessions on Wednesday, Rogero worked with the team and fought hard throughout Saturday’s pre final and main event scoring a solid fourth place finish. Missing Team USA by one spot, Rogero was hoping for a top twenty result when the week had started and never expected to be battling for a podium finish.

Junior pilot Jack West overcame a bent chassis in one heat race and a main event starting spot outside the top twenty to come home sixth while AJ Myers overcame a DNF in heat one to score a solid top ten result in ninth. Miami’s Pietro Fittipaldi was at the pointy end of the field throughout the week and raced wheel-to-wheel with Team USA’s future additions. A bold late braking pass in the pre final would see contact with another competitor at the end of the long straightaway and Fittipaldi would see his chance to travel overseas go away as he slid off the racing surface. Starting the main event in 39th, Fittipaldi battled hard for a top twenty result.

The dominant driver in DD2 all weekend was Californian Cody Hodgson. After qualifying on the pole and taking the first and third heat race wins, Hodgson went on to be perfect on Saturday taking the checkered flag in the pre final and final. On his way to the national title, Hodgson also scored the fastest race lap and will look to improve on his third place result from last year’s Rotax World Finals in Egypt.

Half way through the week, OGP picked up the driving skills of Floridian Daniel Formal. With Neri out of the lineup, OGP’s Mike Maurini was assigned the task of making sure Formal would be part of America’s team. After qualifying fifth and finishing second in all three heat races, Formal claimed the win in the pre final before taking the third and final podium spot in the main event.

Masters drivers Rob Maier and Jason Bell overcame incidents in the pre finals and moved forward in the main event. After starting from the tail of the field, both drivers showed their speed as Bell managed to move forward and score a solid top fifteen result while Maier would be just outside the top twenty.

Arellano added, “This was another tremendous event for OGP, New Castle Motorsports Park and the crew of the US Rotax Nationals. I have no complaints and am happy to be part of this program.”

A complete list of team results are below:

Rotax Junior
Oliver Askew – 23rd
Pietro Fittipaldi – 18th
Andrew Evans – 30th
Ashley Rogero – 4th
AJ Myers – 9th
Jack West – 6th
Ethan Low – 21st

Rotax Senior
Nick Neri - DNS
Brandon Salyer – 29th
Daniel Formal – 3rd

Rotax Masters
Jason Bell – 15th
Rob Maier – 22nd

Rotax DD2
Cody Hodgson – 1st

Rotax DD2 Masters
Nick Weil – 5th

Ocala Gran Prix will be purchasing chassis and providing testing sessions for members of Team USA. Stay tuned for future releases and dates as Ocala Gran Prix looks to ensure Team USA’s success at the Rotax World Finals.

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