For Michael d’Orlando, American driver with the addiction to European competitions, the RMCGF will be the first world event of the season before the OK World Championship in Bahrain.
The season started with the title in the Florida Winter Tour in Rotax Junior MAX class, then the second place in the Florida Winter Tour in Junior Rok class. A second place in the US Open Grand Nationals and then a tough CIK-FIA OK Junior European championship and participation to the WSK Final Cup in Adria. Comment your season highlighting positive and negative moments...
I think I had a very successful season and starting off the year by winning the FWT championship and earning a ticket to the Grand Finals couldn’t have been a better start. Earning a chance to represent Team USA has been a goal of mine since my first season in karting 8 years ago.
And then having Birel ART support me as a factory driver is an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I have learned a lot. The experience of racing in Europe is amazing and I was happy to see how competitive I was in Portimao. The US Nationals in Sonoma was a great event and I was superfast from the first lap, and everyone else was playing catchup. But the negative was that since I was so fast the competition had to change their strategy to pushing me off the track at the start in the first turn in each of the prefinal and final - without that I guarantee I would have won.
The hardest part of my season is the travel. I go to Iona Preparatory School, which is a very competitive school, and the time it takes to catch up is a lot of very hard work and commitment. I also think the most difficult part of my racing experiences has been adapting to the dropdown bumper rule in the European races, which has hurt me every race weekend and affected my results,
…and then it comes the Mazda Road to Indy Driver Advancement Program. How did it go?
The Mazda Road to Indy Driver Advancement Program went well for me. I had a shot at getting the test day, but with the competition it was going to be hard. The interview went well for me, I answered the questions truthfully and the best I could. In the end, I don’t think there could have been anything else I could have done to change the result. I didn’t get the test day overall, but I am happy with how I presented myself.
How do you feel in representing your nation in Italy?
I feel honored to represent the US in Italy. I can’t wait to show the world what the US is able to do. I feel that this weekend will be really good and I can’t wait.
How different are competitions here in Europe? What’s different?
The competitors are very different in Europe. The competition is more aggressive and they seem to target the newcomers, and you have to earn their respect. I’ve only raced 4 races there but each and every day I am getting more comfortable and earning the respect of my fellow competitors and developing some great friendships that will last beyond karting.
Which are differences between an OK Junior and a Rotax kart in terms of driving style? Which do you prefer?
Racing OK Junior is very different from racing Rotax Junior. The tires used with the OK Junior have lots of grip and have to be used aggressively as opposed to the Rotax Junior’s tires which have to be preserved more to get the most out of them. I prefer racing the OK Junior because I can really drive and push the kart to the limit.
We know that you spent some time in Formula Medicine with Doc. Riccardo Ceccarelli. How did it go? How much time do you spend on physical and mental training?
Spending time with Formula Medicine was a great experience. I loved it. I spent three days there learning how they operate and what to do. They trained and tested me for those three days. I spent 2-3 hours each day doing mental training and 3-4 hours doing physical training. The experience was awesome and can’t wait to go back. At home, my everyday routine includes some the training techniques from Dr Ceccarelli and his team. In addition, I workout 4-5 days/week between my high school’s crew/rowing team and training with a professional boxer in a boxing gym.
Will you race the OKJ World Championship in Bahrain? Plans for the next season?
Yes, I will be racing in the OKJ World Championship in Bahrain. I can’t wait! I hear it’s an awesome track and can’t wait to race it myself. Next year I will be doing most of my races in Europe again and may do OK or KZ2. In addition, we are looking at testing in F4.