d'Orlando Goes from Upside Down to the Podium
 May 3, 2021| 
  • Team News
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HARTSDALE, NY - It was quite the scene in St Petersburg, FL last weekend with Michael d'Orlando in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship series of the Road to Indy, on the emotional rollercoaster that is motorsports. Looking to build on the solid results from the season opening event at Barber Motorsports Park, d'Orlando was met with some road blocks. Along the ride he found himself upside down but then followed it up with a spectacular recovery podium finish, all in a single day. It was an awesome display of perseverance, dedication, faith and confidence - the true traits of a race car driver.

d'Orlando and his DB Collaborative #4 Cape Motorsports prepared machine arrived on the scene of the St Petersburg Grand Prix on Thursday evening, preparing for the first road course circuit of the year alongside the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. This would be d'Orlando's third appearance in St Pete looking to build on his two top-five results in the 2020 season finale last October. With no opportunities to test on street circuits, previous experience weighed in for the 19-year-old Hartsdale, NY native. Friday action included a single practice session, followed up by two qualifying sessions, which would set the stage for Saturday's two head-to-headfifth-place starting position for Race 2, with both sessions plagued by red flags, restarts and a compromised tire strategy which played into the extremely tight results.

Saturday was the single day of head-to-head racing, with the driver and team's goal to obtain precious points for the drivers' championship. But the competition had other plans. The start of Race 1 was eventful with a multi-car crash in the opening turns bringing out a red flag and stopping on-track action for the clean-up. This forced a restart in a single-file format with d'Orlando lined up in the third slot. At the drop of the green flag in the opening corner, the devil that is street racing reared its ugly head again, when an over-zealous move by the driver behind him resulted in tire-to-tire contact sending d'Orlando airborne flipping upside down and ultimately sliding inverted to a hard stop on the concrete barrier wall. The world-class AMR Safety Team provided by INDYCAR was quickly on the scene in response, and in a carefully orchestrated manner safety extracted d'Orlando from his cockpit (still currently upside down), as his double fist pump to the crowd resulted in a roar of relief.

"Race 1 was rough to say the least," stated d'Orlando. "The race was stopped at first due to a four-car crash in a no-passing area of the track and then on the restart the driver behind me made an over aggressive move going into turn one. I couldn’t see the car until he had already hit my rear tires, popping me straight up into the air and flipped me right upside down. It was pretty startling for me at first but was relieving when the AMR Safety Team got there quickly and helped me climb out. I felt fine and completely okay and after careful evaluation by the medical staff I was quickly cleared to race again later in the afternoon. I'm disappointed the incident happened and cost me valuable points for the championship, but we will continue to fight. It's a long season."

After the dust settled, the entire Cape Motorsports team sprung into action. And it's no surprise that the confidence of the driver in his team, that his machine would be ready for action, was unparalleled. The experience and expertise of the series' most accredited race team has proven their reputation.

Back in action five hours later, d'Orlando put on a show in Race 2, moving from the fifth position to the fourth slot in the opening corners. Once again, the street circuit showed no mercy when another red-flag incident in the mid-pack forced the entire field to the pits again awaiting another single-file restart. And in true veteran fashion, when that green flag waved again, d'Orlando kept himself in an intense head-to-head battle for the third position, and showed no mercy. Patiently waiting for his opportunity and breathing down the neck of third place, in the final lap d'Orlando dramatically made the move through corners one, two and three to put himself on the podium once again. A performance that earned the highlight of the day in an "on-his-head" to "on-the-podium" spectacle.

d'Orlando continued:"Race 2 was way better. The team repaired the car the whole day and my trust in their work gave me the opportunity to race as hard as I could for that one. I fought hard from fifth place and happy to put us on the podium after such a horrible morning. I’m super happy with that result. Thanks to everyone at Cape for all the hard work, effort and support, also Thanks to the AMR Safety Team for helping me so quickly and carefully. We will look to recover some more in Indy."

The Road to Indy Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship will take a short break until their return to the most famous track in North America, Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN, the home of the Indianapolis Grand Prix on May 13-15, 2021.

d'Orlando Enterprises would like to extend their appreciation and special thanks to their partners at DB Collaborative, Focused Project Management, MG Engineering, UFC Gym - Mamaroneck NY, Dino Energy Drink, MotorMedia USA and Rising Star Racing.
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