FWT - IMRC Ocala Saturday summary

Guimaraes, Chaves, Marsell on top at Ocala Ocala, FL (March 8, 2008) -- The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida continued its tenth season on Saturday, closing the books on Round 5 of 6 of the 2008 FWT ...

Guimaraes, Chaves, Marsell on top at Ocala

Ocala, FL (March 8, 2008) -- The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida continued its tenth season on Saturday, closing the books on Round 5 of 6 of the 2008 FWT International Rotax Max Challenge. Almost 170 drivers converged on the Ocala Gran Prix facility to continue the record-smashing season.

These drivers and teams from around the globe are chasing the fully funded rides to the 2008 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals (RMCGF) that will be awarded to the points champions of the Rotax DD2, Rotax Senior and Rotax Junior classes. In addition, FWT RMC Masters and Mini Max class Points Champions paid entry packages to the United States or Mexican Grand Nationals. Complimenting the FWT awards structure are Skip Barber Racing School Three Day Competition Courses for points champions in Rotax Senior and Junior (an $8000 value).

S1 Racing Karts Rotax Senior

No surprises once qualifying opened for the headline Rotax Senior class; 45 drivers had visions of setting the fast time, but it was Moroso dominator Felipe Guimaraes (Kart Mini) who crushed all of them and snatched the pole. Ben Searcy (Champion Racing/Intrepid) turned in a valiant effort to earn the off-pole position, while title hopeful Fabio Orsolon (Max Papis Racing with Fittipaldi) ended up third.

From the start of the pre-final, it was clear that Guimaraes was again going to have a big day as he assumed his customary position at the front. Searcy held down second, while Fabio locked down third until Pier-Luc Ouellette (pulling double duty for SRA Karting) went from fourth into third with a bold move into the final turn at the end of Lap 1. Christophe Boisclair (SRA Karting/Arrow) was right in the mix as well as Orsolon was losing places fast, dropping to sixth before gathering himself up and getting back into fifth. Points contender Victor Pedrosa continued to struggle, running a distant 16th.

Lap 7 and Felipe was nicely settled into the lead with Searcy forced to play second fiddle; Ouellette and Boisclair were firmly established in third and fourth. Behind them the battle was for fifth, as Pearce Herder, Orsolon and Federico Moreno ran nose to tail.

No changes up front, though Ouellette closed up onto Searcy's rear bumper as the white flag came out. No drama in the end: Guimaraes led them home by over 3.5 seconds, followed by Searcy, Ouellette, Boisclair, and Orsolon.

The final outcome was never in doubt as Guimaraes rocketed into the lead, Ouellette was into second, Searcy third, while Orsolon threw a mega block all the way to the infield grass to hold onto fourth as they came around to complete Lap 1. It was Boisclair who Fabio had endeavored to keep behind him, ultimately to no avail.

Up front and with six laps gone, Guimaraes was consistently a tenth or two faster than any of his pursuers, while Pier-Luc began to feel the heat from Searcy. At the halfway point there were no changes; Guimaraes had almost two seconds in hand over Ouellette, Searcy, Boisclair and Orsolon.

Ultimately, Guimaraes added to his growing legend as he romped to an easy win in an uneventful main; Ouellette had no answer to the winning Brazilian, Searcy had to settle for best of the Americans, while Boisclair finished fourth and Orsolon struggled home to a fifth-placed finish.

Preliminary calculations indicate that Guimaraes must win tomorrow in order to have a chance at the title, combined with an Orsolon finish of sixth or lower.

Advanced Karting Rotax Junior

Stakes were high in Rotax Junior as Gabriel Chaves, aboard his brand-new Champion Racing/Intrepid mount, leapt to the top with a 38.336. Points leader Daniel Formal (Advanced Karting/Tony Kart) lurked just .010 behind with Nick Neri (OVRP/Maranello) in third. Eric Filgueiras (Birel/Rysa Racing) and Michael Lombardi (CRG/Cameron Motorsports) rounded out the fast five.

Chaos in the first few corners of the pre-final; Chaves soared out with Neri close behind, but Formal fumbled the start and dropped from second to ninth by the end of Lap 1. Jesus Rios Jr. (PSL Karting/CRG) was up to third, but tragedy for Formal when he lost a tire on Lap 4 and parked it.

Lap 6 and Neri moved into the lead, Chaves and him having their way with the field. Behind them it was a free for all, as Rios, Lombardi, Filgueiras, Kevin Monteith (Firstkart.com) and Tatiana Calderon (Tony Kart Florida) were all seeking the quickest route into third.

Just two laps later and Gabriel went back into the lead in what was a massively entertaining battle between these drivers clearly head and shoulders above the rest. They would finish the pre-final with no further lead changes and with Rios Jr. crossing in third almost five seconds back.

That set the stage for the final, and Chaves was away cleanly into the lead with Neri in close quarters. Monteith made a superb start to finish the first lap in third, Lombardi fourth, while Rios Jr. was out on the first lap.

Neri went to the lead on Lap 6 as Nick made it clear that Chaves would have to earn this one. Similarly, Gabriel had his fill of Neri's bumper after two laps and went back to the front. The battle for third between Monteith, Filgueiras and Alex Madrigal (Tony Kart Florida) was no less fierce.

All bets were off with two to go, and the hunters threw all they could at the hunted, but Chaves kept his head and won by a couple of tenths, while the three karts embroiled in the battle for third crossed the stripe separated by even less than that.

The win was a big boost to Chaves' championship aspirations, as he is among a quartet of title hopefuls that includes Phil De La O, Neri, and Daniel Formal. However, with the RMCGF direct transfer spot on the line, and with Neri and Formal both illegible to earn it due to age requirements, Chaves has set himself as the favorite to get the expenses-paid trip to the '08 RMCGF event in November.

Cameron Motorsports DD2

From the start of qualifying, it was Stuart Marsell (BTK Motorsports/Arrow) who jumped to the top in the DD2 category, his 38.061 standing as the fast time of the session. World Champion Pier-Luc Ouellette made it an all-Arrow front row, clocking the second fastest time just .085 behind aboard his SRA Karting entry. Fidencio Guzman (Firstkart.com) was third just six thousandths in arrears, while Joey Collins (CRG/SSC) was fourth. Surprisingly, title contender Kyle Herder languished down in ninth.

Green flag for the pre-final and Marsell nicely converted his pole, leading away from Ouellette and Guzman. That trio immediately began gapping the rest of the field. Behind them, Herder was on a mission to atone for the qualifying misstep, and he was up to fourth by Lap Four.

The top three were covered by less than a second, and a glance at the lap times showed just how close they were; Marsell, Ouellette and Guzman all recorded a best lap in the 39.9 range, and Herder joined them in that same time bracket. With the top four so evenly matched, it set the stage for the final.

Huge dog fight on the first lap of the main, as Marsell got a good start, but Pier-Luc made a great move through the infield to take the lead. Guzman tucked into third behind Stuart while Herder slipped to sixth.

Nose to tail were the top three, Marsell pressuring Ouellette while Guzman pressured Marsell. Herder was recovering quickly; he was into fourth and gaining on the leading trio, while Collins was locked onto Kyle's bumper and making it a five kart battle for the lead at the crossed flags.

Lap 13 and Guzman (Mexico) was now glued to Pier-Luc's bumper (Canada), and with Marsell right there in third it was officially a fight for NAFTA supremacy. Herder had lost contact with the leaders now, and Collins was searching for a way past into fourth.

Lap 17 and Guzman had sucked enough FR125 exhaust; he scampered through the infield and snatched the lead from the world champion. Two corners later and Marsell also victimized Ouellette, who was now clearly having trouble and quickly falling into the clutches of his championship rival Herder.

Big time drama on the final lap as the wheels came off Pier-Luc's points lead; he literally lost a wheel and logged a DNF just corners from the checkered, sending the championship battle into turmoil. Herder finished third and earned the championship points lead with it, while Guzman took a gallant win with Marsell in second.

RDD Motorsports Masters

The party was on in Masters right from the start of qualifying, as title favorite Michael Riolo (Advanced Karting/Tony Kart) and Max Papis (Max Papis Racing with Fittipaldi) set alternating fast times in the early going laps. Brent Harper (CMC/Swiss Hutless) jumped to the top for about ten seconds before Papis came around again to close his fourth lap; Max settled the issue with a 39.127. Harper continued to hold down second, while Riolo did his best to better his time, improving his personal best on Lap 10 but ultimately doing no better than third.

Green flag for the pre-final and it was Mad Max to the fore, Harper tucked in behind, Riolo holding third, and Paul Montopoli up to fourth. Russel Hamel and Brent Harper briefly debated second before Harper settled down and got down to business.

Big trouble for the points leader when Riolo encountered trouble and dropped to the back of the field. At the head of it all, Papis was up by almost two seconds and in complete control. Max handily won the pre-final followed by Harper and Montopoli.

Green flag on the main and Papis dusted the field on the start, while Montopoli made a good getaway and was second by the end of Lap 1. Harper slotted into third while points leader Riolo continued to struggle; Michael started 11th, dropped to dead last, and then moved back up to twelfth.

This one was a bit short on suspense as Max walked it to the checkered, winning by five seconds. Montopoli brought it home second, Harper was third, while Hamel, Denis Lachance, and Christopher Rock (no relation to Chris) held a fierce argument over fourth.

Kart Mini of America Mini Max / RDD Motorsports Micro Max

Jack West (Juncos Racing) came off a strong weekend at Moroso, and his momentum continued unabated with a Mini Max pole position performance. Jesse Lazare, Dore Chaponick Jr. and Pietro Fittipaldi da Cruz would comprise the rest of the front two rows.

West made a clean escape at the start of the pre-final, but there was heartbreak for him on Lap 4 when he parked it in the infield, logging a DNF. That left Fittipaldi to inherit the lead... for all of two laps before Chaponick snatched it on Lap 7, only to have Pietro take it right back again. Down the main straight for the last time and Chaponick dove way, way to the inside and made it stick, a great recovery and pre-final win for Dore. Fittipaldi was a disgruntled second, Jordan Perry and Jesse Lazare finishing third and fourth, respectively.

A curious decision by West not to start the final, but he wasn't missed as the action between Chaponick and Lazare was hot and heavy. At one point mid-race, they swapped the lead four times in the span of a lap and a half, FWT announcer Ken Walker working hard to keep up with the action. It was epic stuff while all Fittipaldi could do was observe from third.

Lazare was leading when the white flag came out, and Jesse dove to the inside to hug the infield grass and defend his lead. It worked; he won by .061 over Chaponick, while Fittipaldi, Perry and Dalton Sargeant completed the top five.

Over in the Micro Max class, Patricio O' Ward (kart #666) drove like a man possessed in the pre-final, absolutely dominating from start to finish. Great battle for second as Jesse Seeley, Grant Quinlan, Logan Sargeant and Juan Manuel Correa dueled mercilessly. Seven laps in and O' Ward was five seconds up the road; at the checkered it was over six seconds. Quinlan made a brave last lap move to jump into second, stealing the spot from Seeley with just a few corners to go.

The main was devoid of suspense, as O' Ward's winning ways continued with an eight second triumph. The fight for second was much more interesting, as Quinlan and Sargeant went nose to nose right down to the checkered, with Grant earning the spot by just two tenths.

-credit: www.floridawintertour.com

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Series Kart
Drivers Ken Walker , Max Papis , Skip Barber , Kyle Herder , Felipe Guimaraes , Gabriel Chaves , Michael Riolo , Phil De La O , Tatiana Calderon , Ben Searcy , Pietro Fittipaldi , Jack West , Nick Neri , Dalton Sargeant , Jesse Lazare
Teams Juncos Racing