FWT: Ocala rounds 5, 6 preivew

Points championships and Rotax Awards on the line this weekend Ocala, FL (March 6, 2008) - The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida wraps up its 2008 International Rotax Max Challenge this weekend in Ocala, ...

Points championships and Rotax Awards on the line this weekend

Ocala, FL (March 6, 2008) - The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida wraps up its 2008 International Rotax Max Challenge this weekend in Ocala, Florida. Celebrating its tenth season of competition, this year's Florida Winter Tour has smashed all previous series records for entries and participants. With the final two rounds of the FWT IRMC being held over the coming days, the drivers points championships, the Manufacturers and Nations Cup titles will all be settled at the popular bull-ring Ocala Gran Prix facility.

Up for grabs is an unprecedented prize package that remains unmatched in North American Rotax competition. FWT IRMC champions in Rotax DD2, Senior and Junior will be awarded air fare and hotel accommodations for the driver, chassis rental, engine rental, race tires, trolley rental, lead rental, fuel and oil at the 2008 RMCGF. In addition, FWT RMC Masters and Mini Max class points champions receive paid entry packages to the United States or Mexican Grand Nationals (must meet U.S. Grand National driver requirements). Series runner-ups in all FWT RMC classes will be given an allocation to the '08 US Grand Nationals.

More chips go into the pot with the addition of Skip Barber Racing School Three Day Competition Courses for points champions in Rotax Senior and Junior (an $8000 value), while Autosports Media will award free press releases to every Senior and Junior race winner, along with a $1,000 web site voucher for the points champions of all FWT Rotax classes.

With the FWT having cemented its status as the largest IRMC series in the world, series' organizers are pleased to welcome Robert Gumperberger to the Ocala weekend. Gumperberger is the BRP Global Marketing Specialist for the Rotax Max Challenge and Rotax kart sales. His duties involve worldwide development of the Rotax Max Challenge program and annual development of the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals event.

S1 Racing Karts Rotax Senior

The Rotax Senior class championship will likely provide the most dramatic moments of the weekend. While Fabio Orsolon (Max Papis Racing), Victor Pedrosa (CRG/SSC East) and Oliver Aquino (Tony Kart Florida) currently sit one-two-three respectively in the points, that trio of racers must be nervously looking over their shoulder for Felipe Guimaraes (Kart Mini). It was Guimaraes who come to Rounds 3 and 4 in Moroso and utterly crushed the competition, the Brazilian in a class of his own for the entire weekend.

The big story will be whether Orsolon and Pedrosa in particular can record steady finishes on both days here in Ocala, for the slightest misstep will open the door for Guimaraes to burst through and snatch the class championship, along with the coveted direct transfer spot to the RMCGF to be held at year's end, let alone the Skip Barber competition course that goes to the champ.

Advanced Karting Rotax Junior

Due to the fact that the International Rotax Sporting Regulations dictate that Junior Rotax racers must have reached his/her 13th birthday before September 30th, FWT points leader Daniel Formal and Nick Neri (currently in fourth) are not eligible to win the direct transfer spot to the RMCGF. It is only the existence of a unique and controversial U.S. Rotax rules structure that allows non-eligible participants to race in this class in 2008.

So while Formal (Advanced Karting) currently holds a comfortable lead in the FWT points standings, it's Phil De La O (Tony Kart Florida), Daniel Vela (CRG), and Gabriel Chaves who are the frontrunners to win the transfer spot. Formal's two wins on the season are tops for the class, but De La O has been very consistent all season, starting with his win at the season opener at Homestead. Vela's Saturday win at Moroso vaulted him into the thick of the points chase, and expect the juniors to put on an epic display of racing come Sunday when the title, transfer spot, and Skip Barber award are all on the line.

Cameron Motorsports Rotax DD2

To the surprise of no one, reigning DD2 World Champion Pier-Luc Ouellette (SRA Karting/Arrow) sits atop the mountain in the current class points standings. With two wins on the season, Ouellette returns to the site of his historic win last year, when he triumphed at Ocala and earned a direct transfer spot to the '07 RMCGF. At that event in the United Arab Emirates, Pier-Luc scored a monster victory to lay claim to the title of DD2 world champ.

Standing in Ouellette's way is another SRA Karting/Arrow driver and fellow Canadian, Kyle Herder. Steady finishes in the first three rounds showed a building of momentum that led to a victory at Round 4 in Moroso. Barring a complete collapse, expect one of these two karters to claim the points title, but if either of them falter, Chemill Mercado and Stuart Marsell will be there to pick up the pieces.

RDD Motorsports Rotax Masters

The smart money in Masters has got to be on Michael Riolo, the Advanced Karting/Tony Kart driver boasting a second and two wins so far in '08. After Homestead, he was equal on points with Brad Smith, but when an illness kept Smith from racing at Moroso, Riolo took advantage with a win and a fourth. That gives him a healthy 50 point lead over Denis Lachance, who's enjoyed a steady yet unspectacular season.

But the big news in Masters has to be the entry of former open-wheel standout Max Papis. Owner of the Max Papis Racing with Fittipaldi kart team, driver of the No. 64 Atreus Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS in NASCAR Nationwide Series road course events for Rusty Wallace Inc., driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C6-R in the American Le Mans Series, Papis does it all and is no stranger to kart racing. He started racing at the age of 11, drove for the Italian National Karting team for five years, and competed in two World Championship events and three European Championship races. In 1987 he captured the prestigious Intercontinental Championship race in the Hong Kong streets over the likes of Alex Zanardi and Michael Schumacher.

Kart Mini of America Rotax Mini Max

The Mini Max category looks to be a three horse race, as Jack West, Dore Chaponick Jr. and Pietro Fittipaldi Da Cruz are all in with a chance. West has been coming into his own in this, his sophomore season, as he's produced a fourth, third, third and first out of four races this season, the win coming at the most recent round at Moroso.

Chaponick Jr. is in the best position though, as two wins and a second put him in the driver's seat for the title. Dore swept both races at Homestead, stumbled on Saturday at Moroso, but rebounded on Sunday with a strong second place finish. A smart run at Ocala should seal the deal.

But standing in his way is Fittipaldi, who a year ago was celebrating a double-win weekend here at Ocala Gran Prix. Even though Pietro has no wins thus far in '08, he's undoubtedly relishing the prospect of making a title charge at the track where he's had so much success in the past.

RDD Motorsports Rotax Micro Max

More history was made at the FWT in 2008, as the series was proud to host the first-ever official Micro Max competition anywhere in the world. So whomever claims the class title in this, the youngest age division among the six Rotax classes, will be able to boast that he was the inaugural Micro Max champion.

Similar to the situation in Senior, there are three racers who currently occupy the top three spots in the points, yet all of them are looking behind them with no small degree of trepidation. Juan Manuel Correa, Grant Quinlan, and Logan Sargeant hold down the first three positions, yet only Sargeant has earned a win on the season.

The driver making them nervous is Patricio O' Ward and his #666 kart. O' Ward came into Moroso and swept the floor, winning both races and leaping into the battle for the title. Should the Mexican manage to dominate at Ocala, and should the favorites stumble, then Patricio could steal the title in a most dramatic fashion.

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: formula kart

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Series Kart
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Michael Schumacher , Max Papis , Alex Zanardi , Skip Barber , Kyle Herder , Felipe Guimaraes , Gabriel Chaves , Michael Riolo , Fabio Orsolon , Phil De La O , Pietro Fittipaldi , Jack West , Nick Neri