D'Orlando Makes Series Debut at St. Pete
 March 23, 2018| 
  • Team News
DOrlando StP 2018 Recap

HARTSDALE, NY. [March 22, 2018] - It was a celebration, an inauguration, a new beginning, and then back to business for Michael d’Orlando, the young race car driver from New York, as his car racing program got underway with the completion of his first race in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. Overcoming travel weather related obstacles, schedule changes, last minute planning, and other coordination challenges, d’Orlando would leave the comfort of the karting paddock for the Mazda Road to Indy (“MRTI”) series to begin his open-wheel career in earnest.Due to the late decision to participate in the USF2000 series, the expectations were set to simply gain experience in the car and to work on learning the program with a new team, Team Benik. These expectations were simple and all were achieved or exceeded.

D’Orlando took to the streets of sunny St. Petersburg, FL in his inaugural MRTI event, on the same course as & in coordination with the Verizon IndyCar series season kickoff.Just two days prior, d’Orlando celebrated his 16th birthday with new friends and teammates, and so began the next chapter in his motorsports career.

With no prior experience competing in the USF2000 car, and only minimal testing with various teams since ending his karting career last August, d’Orlando got back to business as usual under the careful direction of Team Benik’s engineer Daniel Mitchell,Team Manager Nick Mitchell, and alongside his new teammate Sabre Cook.With only one warm-up to prepare, d’Orlando‘s first Qualifying session on Friday morning would set him 19th for the Race #1 on Saturday and his second Qualifying session would set him in the 22nd spot for Race #2 on Sunday.




"I met many new people & fans, and I just focused on learning & driving smart. I couldn't be happier to work with the guys at Benik..."


- Michael d'Orlando



Saturday’s Race #1 would prove difficult when a rear wing bracket failed and caused a down-force issue on the #51 Team Benik machine that would force him to focus on keeping the car safe & clear of the concrete barriers on the 1.8 mile/14 turn circuit for the duration of racing action, and ultimately succeeded that with a solid 16th place result. Looking to overcome the car issue from Race #1, and the disappointing qualifying result, d’Orlando showed his potential and speed in Sunday’s Race #2 pushing lap times comparable to those experienced drivers near the top of the charts and moving up as far as 15th. Ultimately an on-track unavoidable incident would force him to retire from the race three laps early, but both driver and race team management are confident in the performance and teamwork.

"I think the weekend at St Pete was a great start." states Michael d'Orlando. "Since it was my first race I really didn't know what to expect, especially with it being a street course. It was a lot to adjust to, with everything happening on & off the track, including driver meetings, autographs sessions, and charity events. I met many new people and fans, and I just focused on learning and driving smart. I couldn't be happier to work with the guys at Benik and I am excited to see what the rest of the season brings."

The next stop in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will be at Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit on May 10-12, 2018.For more information on the USF2000 series please visit their website atwww.usf2000.com.

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