Florida Winter Tour -- Sunday Recap Lee doubles up in Spec Racer, Dirani scores Pro Shifter win Homestead, FL (January 20, 2008) - The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida continued its tenth season on ...
Florida Winter Tour -- Sunday Recap
Lee doubles up in Spec Racer, Dirani scores Pro Shifter win
Homestead, FL (January 20, 2008) - The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida continued its tenth season on Sunday at the Homestead Karting facility at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Rain and gusty winds were the order of the morning, which became afternoon overcast skies for the 150 racers who came to south Florida for the FWT series opener.
PSL Karting.com Pro Shifter
Full wet setups were the call for Pro Shifter qualifying, but that did little to shift the balance of power at the top of the charts. Danilo Dirani (Tony Kart Florida) was best at coming to grips with the slippery conditions, and his pole time was almost three tenths clear of Michael Vincec (CRG/Cameron Motorsports), Alex Speed (Birel/MRP Motorsports), Saturday's winner Fritz Leesmann (CRG/PSL Karting) and Josh Schreiber (MRP/Birel America).
Come the pre-final and the track was still damp, though the constant wind was drying it in a hurry. At the start, Dirani got away poorly whereas Vincec blasted away into the lead. Danilo had to settle for second in the early going with Speed slotting into third and Leesmann in fourth. Immediately those top four spread out, separated by about half a second between one another.
Nothing dramatic until Lap 7 when Danilo went into the lead with a clean pass on Vincec into the final turn; Fritz got around Alex on the same lap, and now the top four were running nose to tail. Leesmann then got around Vincec and began pressuring Dirani for first. Three laps later and Fritz was into the lead with the token Homestead Turn 5 move and began to pull away. Speed demoted Vincec on the following lap.
The racing line was beginning to dry to the point were some of the leaders went puddle jumping to keep their Bridgestone wets from disintegrating. Schreiber also got around Vincec before the pre-final was done, with Leesmann, Dirani, and Speed ahead of him.
The track was fully dry for the main and, just before the grid was set, our polesitter Leesmann darted into the pit lane, a broken shift lever signaling the end of his day. The field went green and Schreiber found himself in the lead for the first few corners, which didn't last long once Speed slid into first with Vorrath directly behind. Lap 4 and both Vincec and Dirani went around Jordy, the Intrepid driver then having a run-in with Keith Spicer at the bottom of Turn 1, ending the day for them both.
Up front, Alex's early one second advantage over Vincec was beginning to dwindle, with Speed losing about two tenths a lap. Alex refused to be rattled and held his own, while Dirani closed up from third. Michael's CRG got loose out of Turn 3 and that allowed Danilo's Tony Kart to scoot into second. Though it had seemed inevitable for the last handful of laps, it wasn't until Lap 15 when Danilo finally got around Alex for the lead, with Vincec passing Speed on the very next corner.
That was the end of the drama at the front, as Dirani took the flag by 1.3 seconds over Vincec who in turn had a second in hand over Speed. David Ostella was a distant fourth while Arie Ouimet rounded out the top five.
Like all the other classes, it was a wet track for JICA qualifying and that brought an added element of drama. Daniel Vela and his CRG/PSL Karting mount were the stars, though Gustavo Menezes (Tony Kart USA) would start alongside on the front row.
The pre-final arrived and the track was now dry enough where some karters began to yank off their wets and put their slicks back on (a close look at the track made it an obvious and wise decision). Those who stayed on wets would soon regret it...
Wet runners Vela, Jarvis Gennari and Nigel Saurino leaped out early, but in fourth and fifth were Sage Karam and Menezes on slicks. By Lap 3, Sage was 3 seconds back but he and Gustavo were now the fastest karts on the track. By the eighth lap, Sage was seven tenths faster, into third and only 1.3 behind the leader. Gustavo in fourth was flying, even three tenths faster than Sage and closing.
The guys on wets were now in severe trouble, just past halfway it was Karam into the lead and Gustavo into third. Three corners later and Menezes was into second. Two laps later and he was in the lead. Karam was close behind, while fellow slickman Taylor Miinch was third.
Big drama in the final when defending FWT class champ Gennari parked it before the green with a flat front tire. The green flew and Gustavo dashed away into the sunset, followed by Miinch, Angel Caban and Phil De La O. Off pole sitter Sage Karam was demoted to eighth.
Gustavo was free and clear up front, but behind him it was Vela and Nick Neri slashing their way through the field. The duo was soon running second and third respectively, demoting Cuban, De La O, Miinch and Nigel Saurino.
Vela and Neri had nothing for Menezes, and that's how they would cross the line. Daniel Formal and Saurino finished fourth and fifth.
MRP/Birel America Spec Racer
Wet weather qualifying is always a good time, and on a weekend where the Vortex Rok TTs were making all the headlines, Chris Wehrheim (Team Topkart USA) put his mount on the pole, followed by Victor Cabrera (Kosmic/J3 Competition/Rok) and an overnight Vortex convert, Joey Wimsett for Champion/Intrepid.
Green flag in the pre-final and yesterday's star Cabrera got nudged aside in the first turn, ending the lap in 25th. Lap 1, Turn 5 and Wimsett was into the lead, clearly enjoying his new Rok power. Joey showed his heels to the field and immediately opened up a 2.6 second lead, while Juan Valderrama went by Wehrheim, who was probably already getting tired of seeing the Vortexes blow past him. Chris retired on Lap 5.
Curiously for a Spec Racer class (the FWT runs to the Stars of Karting class regulations), attrition was high in the pre-final, with 13 of 36 failing to reach the checkered flag. Wimsett wasn't among the retirements; he cruised to an easy win followed by Juan C. Valderrama and Saturday's winner Andy Lee.
The green dropped on the main event and Wimsett leaped away, with Valderrama looking on from second, Lee third, and Nicholas Boulle in fourth. Juan hung a tire on the curbing out of the final corner, giving Lee a free pass into second and a clear road to the leader.
Andy and his Tony Kart/Rok gobbled the distance to Wimsett, whose 1.4 second lead evaporated. Curiously, once on the Intrepid's bumper at half distance, Lee was content to sit there... and sit there... and sit there.
That is, until just one and a half laps to go, when Lee easily made the pass on Joey as they entered the infield hairpin. Andy got around and was on his way to his second win in as many days, Wimsett having nothing in the arsenal to defend. Similarly, Sean Meier made a late race pass to grab the final podium spot.
There's just no denying that the Vortex Rok's performance was the dominant talking point of this class. Rok-powered karts finished one-two-three on the track on Saturday (prior to second and third being disqualified), and on this day, the motors finished first, second, third, fourth, and fifth. The Spec Racer/TaG pot has officially been stirred further, given that the Rok also finished first and second at last year's season-ending SuperNationals. FWT officials have contacted Stars of Karting's Scott Evans and are currently evaluating this situation.
FA Kart Masters Shifter
In the pre-final, Kurt Mathewson got the holeshot on polesitter (and Saturday winner) Jason Lee, these two Indiana residents having made it an all-Hoosier show for the entire weekend. But now, having inhaled Lee's exhaust all of the previous day, Kurt looked right happy at the front in the early laps.
Jason began to make a serious inquiry about the lead after five laps, having had enough of this second place stuff. He got onto Mathewson's bumper and had a look-see, while Kurt began to look a bit defensive into the heavy braking zones. Lee got around into Turn 4, but slid wide and allowed Kurt to cut back under and reclaim the top spot.
These two ran nose to tail from there, both making minor bobbles that kept things exciting. Finally with one and a half laps to go, Lee snuck past in the infield and that settled the debate. Gustavo Vidal finished in his now customary position in third.
The main was a different story though, as Vidal picked up the pace and was able to take the fight to Lee in the second half of the final. Trailing the leader by less than a second, Vidal was looking good while Jason was looking a bit vulnerable. But the sudden pressure from Gustavo lit a fire under Lee, and Jason responded brilliantly by posting his fastest laps of the race on tours 19 and 20, and that was it. Mathewson notched the last podium spot.
J3 Competition KF2 / Rysa Racing KF3
With seven entries in the KF2 and KF3 categories, the dawn of the future of CIK karting in North America was introduced quietly, yet these very first KF races in the Americas attracted many an interested spectator. The racers watched closely, too, as both KF2 and KF3 points champions will receive Three Day Competition Courses from Skip Barber Racing School, an $8000 value. Because of the late announcement of these awards, and the introductory status of the KF classes, the FWT points championship for KF2 and KF3 awards will be a best 3 of 4 points championship beginning at the February Moroso rounds.
Daniel Formal and Fabio Orsolon repeated their class victories from the day before, and again their lap times were a discussion point. Orsolon was faster than all other classes save Pro Shifter, comfortably waxing the other shifter classes, while Formal put the KF3's torque on display with his lap times in the 48.7 range. A lap-by-lap analysis of the comparable lap times during the races shows the KF3 top two just thousands apart for an amazing number of laps.
CMW Engines Stock Moto
A somewhat depleted Stock Moto field (compared to the previous day) took to the wet track for qualifying, and it was righteously close as Bryan Eady (Intrepid/Champion) snatched the fastest time by .002 over Matthew Mair. Third fastest qualifier Jose Zanella got bumped to the bottom following a disqualification.
Pre-final action was about Eady cruising away while Zanella worked hard to make up positions. They finished 1-2, but only after Jose made a late race move to get past Mair. One would have expected a close race in the main, especially given how closely Zanella and Eady were matched the previous day, but in the final it was all Bryan and he took a comfortable win by over eight seconds.
S1 Racing Kart Cadet
As ever, the Cadet class produced the closest racing of the weekend, with both the pre-final and final serving up heaps of lead changes and top-five jostling.
Jacques Saurino had claimed the pole by almost three tenths, though it was Carlos Abreu who dashed out to the lead, with Saurino, Tyler Thomas, Austin Self and Broc Yocom close behind. The top three broke away now with Saurino in the lead, next time past the timing line it was Abreu in the lead, next lap it was Thomas, then Abreu took it right back. Carlos would end up with the pre-final win, just a tenth clear of Thomas and Mason Chelootz.
Abreu led from the start in the main event, but then with seven karts battling for the lead it became a free for all at the front. Along with Carlos, it was Saurino, Thomas, Santino Ferrucci, Chelootz, Austin Self, and Ian Tilbor joining the fray.
With Saurino back in front things began to settle down some, as it was now just a four kart draft between Jacques, Abreu, Thomas and Ferrucci. With the white flag out, Tyler and Saurino bumped into Turn 5, giving a free pass to Ferrucci and Abreu. Last corner and all bets were off, with Thomas getting shoved out of the way while Ferrucci crossed the line in first just .032 ahead of Saurino, who in turn was a tenth ahead of Abreu.