FWT/CIK Ocala preview

FLORIDA WINTER TOUR -- OCALA "CIK" PREVIEW Season finale on tap for this weekend Ocala, FL (March 14, 2008) - The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida closes out its tenth season this weekend, March...

FLORIDA WINTER TOUR -- OCALA "CIK" PREVIEW
Season finale on tap for this weekend

Ocala, FL (March 14, 2008) - The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida closes out its tenth season this weekend, March 15-16, at the Ocala Gran Prix facility in Ocala, FL. It's been a record breaking year for the series, as the FWT has set new benchmarks in almost every significant category, from participants (over 1000), awards and prizes (over $100,000), and even web traffic (over 2 million hits coming from 73 countries). Over the next two days, champions will be crowned in eight classes, along with the Manufacturers and Nations Cup titles.

The PSL Karting.com Pro Shifter class championship is likely to come down to a thrilling two horse race between points leader Danilo Dirani (Tony Kart Florida) and Fritz Leesmann (PSL Karting/CRG). Thus far, Dirani has been more consistent, finishing on the podium in all four races this season, including a win at Homestead. Leesmann has made things a bit harder on himself, but is right there with a chance for the title on the strength of wins at Homestead and Moroso. Should either of them finish ahead of their rival on both days this weekend at Ocala, that driver would become the class champion.

However, both of them might have to deal with a potential spoiler in the form of Jordy Vorrath. The Canadian and his Champion Racing/Intrepid mount came on strong at last month's event at Moroso, where he took a dominant win that Saturday. Given that the class offers a minimum guaranteed purse of $20,000 over the course of the season, it's certain that neither Vorrath or the rest of the Pro Shifter pilots will step aside to make things easy for the title contenders.

Of all the classes on the FWT docket, the MRP Birel America Spec Racer category features the tightest championship battle between no fewer than five karters. Heading the list is Andy Lee, whose two wins and a third place give him 307 points on the season. However, Lee raced the first four events aboard a Tony Kart, yet he's switched to a Kosmic ride for this coming weekend. A slight change perhaps, but most drivers have no interest in making any major equipment changes on the eve of a championship weekend.

Looking to capitalize on any misstep made by Lee is a quartet of drivers. Ben Searcy (Champion Racing/Intrepid) scored two runner-up finishes at Moroso and thus far looks to be the most capable challenger. Not to be overlooked are Pat Ianucci (G-Phactory/Sodi Kart), Sean Meier (Kosmic/DL Racing), and Edward Fortier (Maranello/X Services).

And aside from the championship battle, the subplot in Spec Racer is how the Vortex Rok TT engines will perform under the rules changes implemented for the coming weekend. Early reports from the track are that the Roks have been somewhat tamed, and that a few drivers who switched from their Parilla Leopards to the Vortex are contemplating switching back again. And don't be surprised if there's one renegade driver with a Rotax Max package come the first qualifying session on Saturday morning.

Back at season's start, Firstkart.com JICA was predicted to be one of the closest championship battles, but it hasn't worked out that way. Nick Neri (Maranello/OVRP) has enjoyed a stellar season thus far, having finished on the podium in all four races (two wins, a second, and a third).

The rest of the JICA field hasn't been as consistent and are looking up at Neri's 80 point lead. None of his primary challengers have won a race this year; current runner-up Spencer Pigot has two fourth place finishes, a sixth, and a seventh on his scorecard. Pigot comes to Ocala needing to utterly dominate both mains and hope that Neri encounters significant trouble throughout the event.

Though the J3 Competition KF2 and Rysa Racing KF3 classes haven't garnered as many entries as expected, the points battles in both categories will almost certainly go down to the last lap of the Sunday mains. In KF2, Christopher Grektorp (PDB America) and Fabio Orslon (Tony Kart Florida) are currently tied in points, with Grektorp having the tie-breaker due to his Moroso win. Lurking just behind them is Joey Wimsett (Champion Racing/Intrepid), and with these KF points battles being settled on a best 3 of 4 format, any of these three racers could come away with the title and the Skip Barber Racing School Three Day Competition course that goes with it. And though Daniel Formal (Advanced Karting) won both Moroso KF3 races, he's just a few points clear of Michael Silva (Xtreme) and Ricardo Duenas (Speedsouth), so the crown and the Skip Barber school are both there for the taking.

One of the more interesting battles of the weekend could likely be in the Masters Shifter division. Gustavo Vidal (PSL Karting/CRG), Jason Lee (MKP Motorama), John DeLoca (JDS/Tony Kart), and Kurt Mathewson (Evolution/CRG) all stand with a chance to clinch the championship, as these four drivers are separated by just 50 points. Combined, they account for ten podiums on the season. Vidal was spotted practicing as early as Thursday afternoon, so it's clear that Gustavo is pulling out the stops on his championship bid.

A quick glance at the season results in CMW Engines Stock Moto reveals that Bryan Eady (Champion/Intrepid/Leading Edge) has won three of four races with a runner-up finish to go along with it. With such dominant results, one might think that he's a lock for the title. But not so fast: Matthew Mair (Capricorn Racing/Tony Kart) has a win, two seconds, and a third, and trails by just 35 points. Expect these two rivals to go at it tooth and nail all weekend.

Meanwhile, it's still anybody's championship in S1 Racing Kart Cadet. Santino Ferrucci leads the field with his three wins, but Carlos Arbreu, Jacques Saurino, and Austin Self are all in with a chance at the class title.

To learn more about the Florida Winter Tour and to see a complete list of the $100,000+ worth of awards for 2008, visit www.floridawintertour.com.

-credit: fwt

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Series Kart
Drivers Skip Barber , Danilo Dirani , Andy Lee , Spencer Pigot , Ben Searcy , Nick Neri , Jason Lee , Santino Ferrucci