Cape Motorsports’ d’Orlando Doubles Up at Mid-Ohio
 July 7, 2021| 
  • Team News
Cape Mo1 2021

The New Yorker closes the points gap while Nepveu and Kohlbecker chase Rookie of the Year honors

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Michael d’Orlando led the four-driver Cape Motorsports team last weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, continuing his Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship title surge by capturing two victories that vaulted him into second place in the title chase.

With three races on the weekend card, all four Cape drivers – d’Orlando (Hartsdale, NY), Spike Kohlbecker (Kirkwood, Mo.), Thomas Nepveu (Oka, Quebec, Canada), and Evan Stamer (Glen Carbon, Ill.) – knew that points would be a critical factor as they began the season’s second half. D’Orlando entered the weekend fourth in the race for the championship title (and the scholarship into the 2022 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires), while Nepveu and Kohlbecker led Rookie of the Year standings.

As is often the case during a Midwestern summer, weather played a role in the weekend’s outcome, with rapidly changing conditions (from cool and wet to hot and humid) adding to the car setup decision process. With 13 series championships to their credit (including nine straight from 2012 to 2020), the Cape brothers have the knowledge and experience to get the job done.

“We knew we'd be strong at Mid-Ohio, especially with Michael,” said Dominic and Nicholas Cape. “Everyone went quite well on the test sessions, and when it came to qualifying, Michael went for two sets of tires while Spike, Thomas and Evan each chose one set of tires. Though it is a fantastic circuit, Mid-Ohio does not race well and history shows there are usually very few passes, especially for the lead. Nonetheless, Michael brought his A-game last weekend, though getting traffic on the two final laps of qualifying hurt the run for pole. The races were a different story, with two wins and a second-place finish helping him in the championship. We were very happy with the cars and drivers’ performance at Mid-Ohio; we need all four up at the front for the next two weekends. A big thanks to all our guys on the team.”

Race 1

D’Orlando started second behind the championship leader Kiko Porto, and never let up the pressure. On a restart with six laps to go, d’Orlando made his move on the back straight and outbraked his rival to capture his first win of the season and just as importantly, move into second place in the point standings.

Kohlbecker started the race in ninth and Nepveu 11th, with both drivers battling hard through the race but unable to improve their positions. Stamer, however, earned the series’ Tilton Hard Charger award for his impressive drive from 26th to 16th at the checkered flag.

Race 2

The field took the green flag Saturday afternoon and d’Orlando, starting second next to Porto, pressed the young Brazilian but was not able to make the pass. Nepveu and Kohlbecker held their positions (fifth and ninth respectively) while Stamer advanced from 21st to 15th on the opening lap. Kohlbecker set up Christian Brooks on Lap 5 and made the move into eighth and onto the rear wing of Nolan Siegel in the front of a 15-car train.

On the penultimate lap, both d’Orlando and Kohlbecker made their moves, to no avail. As the checkered flag flew, d’Orlando came home in second while Kohlbecker, attempting to pass Siegel in Turn 4, fell back to 11th. Nepveu finished fifth, with Stamer earning his second straight Tilton Hard Charger award in 15th.

Race 3

On Sunday morning, d’Orlando once started alongside his championship rival on the first row, with Nepveu seventh, Kohlbecker 12th and Stamer 21st. At the drop of the green flag, d’Orlando pulled alongside Porto as the pair ran side-by-side for several corners. But the full course caution flag came out before the lap was done, for two separate incidents – unfortunately including Stamer, who was knocked off track. He was able to get back underway, but at the back of the field.

Coming back to green on Lap Four, d’Orlando recommenced the battle with Porto, once again pulling alongside in Turn Four and taking the lead in the Keyhole. But d’Orlando would not be able to take a breath in the lead, as two yellow flags brought Porto back to his rear wing. But on the restarts, d’Orlando jumped swiftly on the gas, and left Porto behind. Meanwhile, Nepveu and Kohlbecker engaged in fierce battles for position with Christian Brooks, Yuven Sundaramoorthy and Josh Green.

At the checkered flag, d’Orlando had scored his second victory of the weekend to close the points gap to 19 to Porto, with Kohlbecker sixth, Nepveu seventh, and Stamer 21st. Kohlbecker and Nepveu now sit one point apart in the chase for Rookie of the Year honors.

Next up for Cape Motorsports and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship will be the triple header at New Jersey Motorsports Park, August 27-29. Tune into USF2000.com for all the action!

QUOTEBOARD

d'OrlandoMICHAEL D’ORLANDO – No. 4 Focused Project Management/UFC Gym

Race 1: Start – 2nd / Finish – 1st

Race 2: Start – 2nd / Finish – 2nd

Race 3: Start – 2nd / Finish – 1st

Championship standing:  2nd

“Race one was super fun! Kiko was really fast and hard to chase down – I would get close, but then fall back from the aero wash and that was hard to overcome. It was a crazy day, extremely difficult to manage with the changing weather conditions. Thankfully I’ve been here a few times in the past so that experience really helped. I chased Kiko the entire race two and thought I could get close on that last lap but he did a great job to defend. I’m super proud of the race I drove but I wish I could have clinched that top spot again.

“Race three was amazing. It’s so cool to have an American win – and an all-American podium – on July 4th! Kiko was so fast, I had to really work to get by. After the restart, I made my move – he knew I was going to try it on the outside and he broke a little later, and I knew that would mess up his exit. It was a complete setup and a perfect move and The Capes really had it this weekend. Obviously they have a ton of experience here and we had a great car. The points are tighter now, so with five races to go, anything can happen.”

KohlbeckerSPIKE KOHLBECKER – No. 5 Ignite Autosport/Raceway Gives/Tierpoint

Race 1: Start – 9th / Finish – 14th

Race 2: Start – 10th / Finish – 11th

Race 3: Start – 12th / Finish – 10th

Championship standing:  6th

“We had tons of potential last weekend. We were fourth quickest in the first race but finished 14th, because it’s just so difficult to pass. But it was a great learning experience, albeit a bit humbling, and something I can reflect on and use in the future when it comes to qualifying decisions. We had tons of pace, but I made the choice to go with one set of tires for qualifying and now I know we should have gone with a new set late in the session. That was frustrating but a good learning point for when we go back in October – we have a good plan now for the finale. I’ll work on my sim and do a few karting races between now and the next races at New Jersey.”

NepveuTHOMAS NEPVEU – No. 2 Cromwell/Karting Excellence/Home Hardware

Race 1: Start – 11th / Finish – 13th

Race 2: Start – 5th / Finish – 5th

Race 3: Start – 7th / Finish – 9th

Championship standing:  7th

“This is a really cool track, it’s just hard to overtake, which makes qualifying so important. And the series is so competitive. I just didn’t have the pace in race one and this track is so tight that it was hard to make anything happen. We made some changes to the car for race two and that really improved the car. We had some good battles in race three, between cautions, I just wish I could have finished a bit higher up. But we’ve got five more races so I’ll keep focusing forward, I’m hoping to get another win this season – and to get the points to earn Rookie of the Year. The team has done a great job on the car this year, and Dominic has helped me a lot on data and engineering. They always give me a great car and prepare me off the track as well.”

StamerEVAN STAMER – No. 3 Ignite Autosport/Margay Racing

Race 1: Start – 26th / Finish – 16th

Race 2: Start – 21st / Finish – 15th

Race 3: Start – 21st / Finish – 24th

Championship standing:  21st

“It was a great weekend overall. We started off strong in Thursday’s test but got a little unlucky in qualifying. The track was damp during the test and again Friday morning but completely dry for qualifying and that made things difficult. We were on the back foot a bit but regained our pace and the car was good during the races. I felt that in the first and third races, we gained back what would have been our qualifying position at least. I think the top 15 finish showed our true pace. It feels good to see our progression every time out and that gives us confidence. We’ll focus hard on qualifying at New Jersey!” 

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