Following last week's ROK action, it's the turn of the Rotax Max drivers to begin their Florida Winter Tour campaign. Cody Schindel gives us the low-down.
The second half of the opening round of the 2016 Sofina Foods Florida Winter Tour presented by FIKSE Wheels hits the track this weekend in Homestead, Florida when Rotax Max racers from around the world take on the challenging Homestead Karting circuit.
As with last weekend’s ROK action, weather once again seems likely to influence competition over the coming days, with heavy rain forecast for Friday.
Rotax events offer up almost an entirely new set of drivers, although there are a few who opt to race both ROK and Rotax. This weekend will feature more than 150 drivers across seven categories ranging from seven-year-olds in Micro-Max to veterans in Rotax DD2 Masters.
All eyes will be on Rotax Senior Max this weekend as it features an all-star cast of drivers. American Luke Selliken, vice-champion of the Rotax world in 2015, has entered the event along with international stars Rinus Van Kalmthout (Netherlands), Jordon Lennox (United Kingdom), Mauricio van der Laan (Spain) and Jordan Sherratt (South Africa).
There are also a three Canadian National Champions entered including Zachary Claman DeMelo, Jesse Lazare and Gianfranco Mazzaferro. Finally, joining Selliken from the USA are hotshots Kyle Kirkwood, Matt Solarczyk, Austin Garrison, Christian Brooks as well as Senior rookies Trenton Estep, David Malukas and Darren Keane.
Motorsport stars Lance Stroll and Felix Rosenqvist were initially entered in the event as well, but have since withdrawn.
The entries in the Rotax Junior category are no slouches either and it appears to be the largest category of the weekend. Last weekend’s ROK Junior winner Michael d'Orlando is back and looking for the Homestead sweep, as is American Mathias Ramirez who finished third last year at the Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal.
Nick Brueckner and Samuel Lupien scored many big victories in 2015 and are early favorites for this weekend’s race. Perennial threats also include Eduardo Barrichello, Arthur Leist and Dylan Tavella along with Canadians Natael Cantin, Matthew Latifi, Ryan MacDermid and Lachlan Defrancesco who will attempt to fly the maple leaf on the top of the podium.
Rotax DD2 does not feature a large list of entries but still features some very talented drivers. Rubens Barrichello is back for more karting action and so is Mercedes DTM drivers Robert Wickens who will battle DD2 regulars Michael McCarthy, Alessandro Bizzotto, Dev Gore and Javier Gonzalez.
Oliver Askew has exchanged his Rotax Senior machine for a two-speed DD2 and will make his debut this weekend in the category with high expectations.
Along with feature classes Junior, Senior and DD2, four more classes are on the schedule for this weekend including Rotax Micro-Max, Mini-Max, DD2 Masters and Max Masters.
The event will broadcast for free online. Live event streaming will be available on Motorsport.com starting Friday at http://bit.ly/1mDVTsQ.