Updated: Mar 15
HARTSDALE, NY (March 10, 2023) –It was a challenging end to the weekend for Michael d’Orlando in his debut of the USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires series, in support of IndyCar’s Firestone Grand Prix on the streets of St Petersburg, FL. The 21-year-old from Hartsdale, NY, and University of North Carolina Charlotte student, returned to racing action on the streets of St Petersburg in the #1 USF Pro Championships race car with Turn 3 Motorsport. Looking to build on promising results in the official USF Pro Championships series test at Sebring Raceway just days before, both d’Orlando and Turn 3 looked poised to continue these competitive efforts and were confident heading into the weekend, but the notoriously difficult street circuit had different plans.
d'Orlando kicked off the season-opening event on Friday morning by posting a top-3 fastest lap time in the only practice session of the weekend. Later that afternoon he looked to improve for the Qualifying session. He quickly jumped out into the top-4 early and then topped the charts mid-session before the entire field dove to pit lane for a pitstop to change to a second set of tires for the latter half. Typically new tires allow for the penultimate laps to be achieved in the closing minutes of the session, as more rubber goes
down on the racing surface and the cars are lighter on fuel. To maximize the potential of setting his fast lap, an adjustment in tire pressure was made on his second set of tires and unfortunately d'Orlando did not feel comfortable with the change and ultimately was not able to improve his time which placed him in a disappointing sixth spot for the start of Saturday morning’s Race 1 and head-to-head action. The narrow racing surface lined by concrete barriers with very tight corners at St Petersburg, and the volume of unsettled air coming off the back of the USF Pro 2000 Tatuus IP-22 race car (aka: “aerowash”) make it a difficult circuit to advance forward, making d’Orlando’s qualifying position a challenge, although not impossible, for the 2023 USF 2000 Champion. But his luck would not change.
“The team and I were really confident heading into the weekend,” states d’Orlando. “We were pretty quick in the testing sessions at Sebring and I feel like I adapted to the new car (Tatuus IP-22) and a new team pretty quickly after spending the last three years with Cape (Motorsports) in USF2000. I know Peter (Dempsey) and Tom (Knapp) have a great car and we will be competitive all year. Our qualifying position did not reflect what we are capable of and it was disappointing.” In the first corner after the green flag of Race 1, contact from behind sent d'Orlando into a spin and off the racing circuit. By the time safety personnel could get him back on the racetrack, he was forced to settle into the 17th position and a lap down from the rest of the field. Knowing this position would be almost impossible to overcome, d’Orlando and Turn 3 took the opportunity to make a run for a better qualifying position for Race 2 the next day. Newer tires on a better racing surface at this point typically result in faster lap times, and qualifying laps for Race 2 are based on a drivers’ second fastest qualifying lap or their fastest lap from Race 1. So they pulled his #1 machine to pitlane and switched to a new set of Cooper Tires with just a few minutes left. On his first hot lap back on track, d’Orlando was poised for a time that could put him on the top of the charts when a full-course-yellow caution condition for the entire field resulted from another competitor and forced d’Orlando to slow down his speed before his fastest lap could be completed. He would officially finish 18th in Race 1. In Race 2, starting from the 9th position, d’Orlando would move up to make a charge for the 5th position in the opening laps when he was forced to make drastic evasive action to avoid being part of a crash of the two cars directly in front him. Narrowly avoiding severe consequences, although falling down the order a few spots because of his hard breaking, he would ultimately regain some lost spots back to finish 11th even with a missing tip of the nose cone. “This weekend wasn’t really what we wanted,” said d’Orlando. “With incidents in both races, it put us in a difficult position. It’s not how we wanted to come out of the first race weekend, but we know we’re quick, we know the #1 car is fast, and I know I’m fast, so I’m confident we will get it at Sebring.” d’Orlando and Turn 3 Motorsport will regroup and prepare to return to action in the USF Pro 2000 Championship at Sebring Raceway in Sebring, FL on March 23 – 26, 2023.
To help d’Orlando return to racing action in pursuit of the $664,500 scholarship to advance his career up to the Firestone Indy NXT series (currently owned and operated by Penske Entertainment Corp which also owns and operates the NTT IndyCar series), please contact Sherri d’Orlando at email@example.com or Art Wilmes at firstname.lastname@example.org. d’Orlando Enterprises LLC’s new partnership with Priority Technology Holdings provide business development and a potential for increase of revenue to clients, ultimately providing additional funding support for d’Orlando drivers and ultimately other future motorsports talent. Visit www.priorityanddellc.com or contact Tom Priore at email@example.com. To stay up to date on Michael d'Orlando, check out his new website at www.michaeldorlando.com and follow his social media on Instagram (dorlandoracing, michaeldorlandoofficial), Facebook (Michael d'Orlando Racing), Twitter (dorlandoracing and michaeldOrland1), TikTok (@michaeldorlando) and on LinkedIn. For more information on the USF Pro Championships, and to watch live streaming of Michael's races, go to www.usfpro2000.com or download the USF Pro Championships app.
About d'Orlando Enterprises LLC: d'Orlando Enterprises LLC, also known as "DELLC", is a driver management, marketing, event planning and activation company with specific focus in the amateur and professional motorsports industry. We develop unique and remarkable VIP experiences, behind the scenes access, and other entertainment opportunities for partners and corporations at race events across the country, including the Indy500. To be a part of our growing network of partners and for more information on these experiences, our drivers or alternative partnership opportunities, contact Art Wilmes of Rising Star Racing at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sherri d'Orlando at email@example.com.