MICHAEL D'ORLANDO BREAKS INTO THE TOP-10 AT ROAD AMERICA
July 3, 2018
It was a break through weekend for 16-year-old USF2000 rookie, Michael d'Orlando, at the famed Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, WI for the sixth and seventh rounds of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Series Powered by Mazda, in the Mazda Road to Indy series. Consistently showing speeds around the top-10 for both the practice and qualifying rounds, the young talent from Hartsdale, New York completed his weekend with his best result of the season and a sixth place finish.
Friday's schedule consisted of only one practice session before the field of 26 drivers jumped right into their two qualifying sessions. With very minimal previous experience in any car to date compared to his competition, d'Orlando was a little behind the 8-ball. In addition, he missed out on the entire first day of practice at the official series test at Road America just a week prior to this event, due to equipment issues and also missed competing in the last round of the USF2000 series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. However, under the leadership and guidance of Team Benik, d'Orlando's raw talent, focus and determination helped carry the forward momentum he started on the second day at the official test. After a top-5 showing in the morning warmup, d'Orlando earned his best qualifying results to date with an 11th place starting spot for Race One and a 7th place starting spot for Race Two.
Saturday, USF2000 was scheduled for only one on-track session, Race 1, but d'Orlando was ready for action as he took to the track. Slipping a couple spots at the start of the race, d'Orlando kept his composure as he worked his way back up to 10th before the race stewards notified his Team Benik squad of a pending on-track penalty. Although his race craft and race pace showed promising, d'Orlando was awarded a drive-through [pit-lane] penalty mid-race. After serving the penalty and rejoining the race toward the back of the field, an unfortunate full-course yellow would not allow him to recover any positions therefore relegating him to a 22nd position finish.
Sunday morning, Race Two for the USF2000 class kicked off the day bright and early, and the race action was the talk of the weekend with only 14 of the 26 car grid completing the race. But for Michael d'Orlando, it was a race that proved he should not be discounted. Starting the race in the 7th slot, the opening lap showed drivers going three and four wide through turns, jockeying for valuable positions at all costs and the utmost expense. d'Orlando was positioned in the middle of the battle but with good decision making he stayed out of trouble for the duration of the 12-lap race, keeping his head about him during the three safety cars and re-starts, to bring home his best result to date with a six place finish.
"The results at Road America were our best yet and we managed to keep up with the front part of the grid while also away from all the craziness behind & around us." explains Michael d'Orlando. "Unfortunately the drive through penalty in Race One hurt our final results but we showed we can compete in the top 10 and I am definitely happy to have stayed out of trouble in Race Two to finish sixth. It felt great to be up in the fight again. I believe this is only the beginning for us and can't wait until the next race to continue our progress."
Michael d'Orlando will be back in action with Team Benik at the Mid-Ohio circuit in Lexington, Ohio on July 26-29, 2018 for the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Series Powered by Mazda. d'Orlando Enterprises would like to extend their ongoing appreciation for the support and sponsors at UFC Gym in Mamaroneck, NY and White Plains, NY locations, Iona Preparatory School, Celtic General Contractors, DB Collaborative and Focused Project Management. Also, a special and continued Thanks for the continued leadership of the entire team at Team Benik including Dan Mitchell and Nick Mitchell and ItalSport’s Rickard Franchini.
For more information on Michael d’Orlando, and for opportunities to be a part of the development of this young talent, contact d’Orlando Racing at email@example.com or Rickard Franchini of Italsport at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Michael on social media at Instagram (dorlandoracing), Facebook (Michael d’Orlando Racing) and Twitter (dorlandoracing).